GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) _ Friends of a recently released Middle East hostage said Monday the man plans to return to this western Colorado town where he lived for several years before moving to Lebanon.

Sybil Curtis, a close friend of Mithileshwar Singh, said she received a telephone call from the Singhs on Monday.

''He indicated he was staying in New York at a complex owned by American Beirut University,'' Curtis said. ''Dr. Singh says they were coming home in a few days but just needed some time to rest in seclusion.''

Curtis said she had kept in touch with Singh's wife, Lala Mani, during his 20-month captivity in Lebanon.

She said she and her husband were close friends with the Singhs when he taught at the Western Colorado University and Western Colorado School of Business in Grand Junction, which later merged with Technical Trades Institute, a vocational and business school still in operation.

Singh, 60, an Indian who is a resident alien of the United States, was abducted Jan. 24, 1987, at Beirut Univerity College with three American colleagues.

A group calling itself Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine claimed reponsibility for the kidnappings and said it freed Singh Oct. 3 as a goodwill gesture.

Singh had joined the university in 1983 as visiting finance professor. He later was named chairman of the business department on the Beirut campus, Curtis said.

Singh was taken to the U.S. Air Force Hospital in Weisbaden, West Germany, after his release. He left for the United States on Monday, but no details of his plans were released.

Neighbors began cleaning up the yard at the home the Singh's still own in Grand Junction. The home was in foreclosure proceedings but a savings and loan assocation with the mortgage held off pursuing the action when its officers learned Singh was a hostage.

''The weeds have just really taken over. We felt we wanted to get the yard up in shape because it was so nice when he lived there,'' neighbor Ginger Duffy said of the small gold-and-beige ranch home. ''This place was disastrous. We thought we'd get the neighborhood to do the job.''

Three others kidnapped with Singh - Jesse Turner, 41; Alann Steen, 49; and Robert Polhill, 54 - continue to be held. Six other Americans also are being held in Lebanon.