Jella Mukhi Ani Gompa, for an experience of a lifetime

Lying in the Mustang region, just a few minute walk away from the Muktinath temple is the Jella Mukhi Ani Gompa, also known as Ani Gompa, Ani meaning nun. It is maintained by Buddhist nuns, however, people of all religion and faith are free to enter the monastery. Its closeness to Muktinath, a Hindu pilgrimage where devotees from all around the world come to bath in the cold water coming from its 108 water spouts, has also added up to its attractions. Hence, the red-robed monks and nuns are also seen trekking towards the mountain mixed among the Hindu devotees, sadhus and other trekkers and tourists.

This nunnery has been there for over 1070 years and today the small Ani-gompa accommodates altogether 25 nuns of different ages, all belonging to Nyingma sect of Buddhism. This small single storey inconspicuous gompa is built out of rocks and mud, and it is painted in simple white color. It is also considered to be one of the few places on earth where all the five natural elements of life are present at once.

A modest blue natural gas flame flickers within the simple unassuming building of the gompa while a stream flows under its floor that exits out of the gompa’s wall through a bronze cow-head fountain. Experiencing the sun above and the wind around you on standing on the earth at a particular height, completes the entire five elements of life. The experience is a once in a lifetime experience which remains in the memory forever.

The village of Rani Puwan welcomes the trekkers and the devotees when they ascend from Kagbeni to Muktinath. The whole area that comes around you is a barren desert of grays, reds, yellows and purples. If not for the magnificent and dominant views of mountain ranges like Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri on the background, one might wonder if they have lost in some other part of the world. The area of Muktinath might not be hospitable for most of the year due to rain, wind and chilling cold, it still is a desirable place to be.

The place is a perfect combination of natural, cultural and religious heritage passed down to and kept alive from generations to generations. The visit to Jella Mukhi Ani Gompa is an experience of a lifetime that no one wants to miss.