A Handy Guide to Take A Glance At The Ancient Glory Of Pashupatinath Temple

Posted by payalmathur on March 26th, 2019

Nepal has a significant Hindu population and they are followers of deities like Shiva and Vishnu, mostly. So, it is only natural that the country, surrounded by lofty mountains, is home to some of the eminent Hindu temples. The capital city Kathmandu has many attractions for the visitors and religiously inclined ones do not miss exploring the grand Pashupatinath Temple. The word Pashupatinath denotes the lord of the animals- which is another incarnation of Lord Shiva. The vast temple complex also includes many small temples, ashrams and cremation spots (called ghats) along the Bagmati river banks.

Nuances of the Pashupatinath Temple

The Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is among the most important religious destinations in Nepal. Since 1979, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an ancient temple made in Nepali pagoda style with the roots pointing back to 400 AD. The main temple is cubic in shape and has a golden spire. The major attractions in this temple are a huge golden statue of Nandi (made of bronze), Shiva’s Bull and the glossy Shivalinga.

The Shiva linga is the temple is also unique and it is four faced. The faces point at 4 directions and they have distinct names. They are called Aghora, Vamadeva, Sadhyojata, and Tatpurusha. In various part of the temple, you will come across sculptures and artistic paintings. The temple doors all have images of deities imprinted on them.

While the huge temple is visited by people belonging to different ethnicities and religious faith, the main temple can be accessed only by Hindus. The major festival celebrated here is Shivaratri. Thousands of devotees from adjacent countries join in the festivities during that time.

There are many ghats adjacent to the temple and they are used for cremation in traditional Hindu ways. The Arya Ghat is deemed very sacred and its water is brought to the temple for the same reason. Since this ghat is deemed auspicious, the members belonging to the Royal family of Nepal are cremated here.

Interesting facts about the Pashupatinath temple

Like many other famous temples in the country, Pashupatinath temple is associated with several legends and mythological tales. However, the historical accuracy of such legends is not always possible to determine. In April 2015, a large part of Nepal was struck by a strong earthquake with 7.8 magnitudes. While many other historic citadels and even temples were affected by the quake, the Pashupatinath Temple was left mostly untouched. The devotees claim it was saved by the divine power of the deity while others argue it was owing to the strong foundation and architecture of the temple complex.

While Hindu visitors can explore the main temple in the complex, only 4 priests have the allowance to touch the main statue of Shiva. The head priest is called Bhatt and these priests are usually from the Southern states of India.

The major festivals that take place here are Teej and Mahashivaratri. The former is a women’s festival and the worshipping female devotees in red attire perform the rituals including fasting and bathing in the holy Bagmati River. The Maha Shivaratri is attended by married women and single women who want a worthy spouse.

When and how to visit

The location of the Pashupati temple makes it easily accessible from almost anywhere in Kathmandu! There are microbuses that can take you to the temple. You also get buses from the Kathmandu international airport.  Of course, you can hire a bike and taxi for the same need. Ideally, you should visit the temple in early morning or evening because that is when the main Shiva linga can be seen. It may take 2 hours or so to explore the temple complex in detail.

Useful tips for the visitors

  1. In the Pashupatinath temple, evening aarti (5p.m. 7 p.m) and morning pujas(5 a.m. - 12 p.m) are done.

  2. Before entering the temple, you need to deposit things like cameras, leather belt, and hand-purse etc.

  3. While the sadhus or monks inside the complex oblige for posing for a picture, they may ask for money.

  4. The Nepalis are serious about religious aspects and so entering the Temple in skimpy or revealing outfits is not advisable.

  5. While exploring the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, keep valuable belongings in your bag. The area is infested with monkeys and the primates are quite bold in nature. They can snatch objects from careless visitors anytime!

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