Not many people seem to know the name Ranipauwa as through the years people
have referred to this place by the name of the famous temple so much that the
place itself is known as Muktinath. But the truth remains that the settlement
is still officially called Ranipauwa which means "Queen's pilgrim shelter" in
English. Queen Subarna Prabha (queen of King Rana Bahadur Shah) built a
pilgrimage here for all the devotees coming to Muktinath and hence the name
became "Ranipauwa". This pilgrim house still stands towards the west.
The settlement of Ranipauwa is to the west of the Muktinath area; the temple
is just a 10-minute walk from here. Ranipauwa will be pretty sweet if you come
here after crossing the Thorung-La. After days of walking alongside rocky
scree and with no phone and internet connection, Ranipauwa will feel like a
blessing. In the Kali Gandaki valley, network connections and internet won't
be a problem (but the internet speed will be irritatingly slow).
As for the geology of this place, it is pretty interesting. Mustang was once a
seabed along with all the high peaks of the Himalayas. Then there was a
collision of the Eurasian plates and Indo-Australian tectonic plates that gave
rise to the mighty Himalayas. Over the course of 70 million years, the seabed
of Mustang was lifted up more than 4000 m. This is precisely the reason why
you will find ammonite fossils in this region (although it is pretty rare
nowadays since most fossils have already been collected). One large ammonite
fossil is kept inside the Muktinath temple and is worshipped by both Hindus
There are safe drinking water station, health post and police check post here.
There is also a bus park here towards the far west of the town since the
entire Kali Gandaki valley now is connected via road. The road connection has
been a boon for all the pilgrims coming to Muktinath. Many pilgrims from India
and Nepal flock over to Muktinath every year since Muktinath is revered as an
important god by both Hindus and Buddhists. On the day of Janai Purnima (full
moon day), lodges will be filled with pilgrims from India and Nepal. Janai
Purnima attracts many devotees as it is considered a major festival in the
Muktinath region alongside Yartung festival which is more inclined towards the
local population. From a traveller's perspective, Yartung festival is
definitely more fun to witness.
Towards the south-west, Dhaulagiri Himal will be visible and will definitely
get a lot of stares on a full moon day.