Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Baghmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Every time I am in Nepal I try to go and visit the temple and last time, I went there with AS and my MIL. It was a cold winter morning and I really love that time of the year in Kathmadu.
The temple serves as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath and is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
According to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda one day Lord Shiva grew tired of his palace atop Mt. Kailash and so went in search of a place where he could escape to. He discovered Kathmandu Valley and, without telling anyone, he ran away from his palace and came to live in the Valley. He gained great fame there as Pashupati, Lord of the Animals, before the other gods discovered his hiding place and came to fetch him. He disguised himself as a majestic deer and would not help the other gods when they asked for his help. When Shiva did not yield to their pleas, they planned to use force. Vishnu grabbed him by his horns and they shattered into pieces. Vishnu established a temple and used the broken horns to form a linga on the bank of the Bagmati River.
As time went by, the temple was buried and forgotten. One day a cow was seen to secretly sprinkle her milk over a mound. Apparently, when the cow herders dug at the spot, they found the lost linga and again built a temple at the same spot in reverence of Lord Shiva.
After we parked the car we have to walk for a while to reach the gate of the main temple. There at lots of vendors selling flowers and necessary items for puja as well as small souvenirs and idols of Hindu gods on either side of the road.
As usual all of the vendors were eager to grab a customer and shouting at passers-by. My MIL law decided to buy a few stuffs from one vendor as we walked towards the main door. Before you reach the main door, you have to take off your shoe and socks off and wash your feet before going into the temple (imagine how cold my feet were getting in a winter morning on stone floors).
From there we approached the main door. I know that non Hindus are not permitted inside this door and you are not allowed to take leather items and camera inside.
As it was a weekday, the temple was not too busy. But there were a large group of Indian devotees in the queue. Pashupatinath is very famous among Indian Hindu and every year busloads of them come to Kathmandu to pray and worship.
Also there were many Sadhus seen in Pasupatinath. There are holy people, who live in isolation, to achieve liberation. But behind the painted faces, one never knows how pious they are.
After we walked around the main temple of Pashupati, we were going to many Lingams of Pashupati and, I happen to look down on the Baghmati River. There were funerals taking place on either side of the river. I was glad I didn’t see the dead body but they were loading logs of wood on the podiums for cremations and, the air was thick with the smell of smoke. In Hindu religion, when a person dies, they are cremated. First there are the rituals of washing the body (purifying it) and lighting lamps all around it to protect the body. Then the body is loaded on the logs and the eldest son of the family lights the fire on the log. If one has no sons, then it will be done by father, brother or any other male member of the family.
In olden days if a woman’s husband died, she was required/ pressurised to burn with him. The process is called Sati. The act of Sati, in which a Hindu widow immolates herself on her husband’s funeral pyre as a final and consummate act of loyalty and devotion, is patterned after the deed committed by a goddess to uphold the honour of her husband. I am just glad it is not practiced these days.
I still hate the other ritual Nepali women practice when their husband dies. Please read this post for more details.
After that we came out from the main door and went to get our shoes. There were lots of pigeon and cow just roaming around there so I decided to take a few photos with them.
As we left the temple, we saw a whole hoard of monkeys! I find them very frightening, especially when they show their teeth and hiss but AS was happy taking their photos.
From Pashupatinath we went to the nearby Guheswari temple.
It is one of the revered holy temples in Kathmandu, Nepal. This temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti. This refers to the popular legend where Shiva distressed was carrying the corpse of Devi Sati and Vishu annihilated it with his Sudarshan Chakra. Shiva later declared the 51 such places where Devi Sati’s body parts fell were to be worshipped as the Shakti Peethas and meditated at all these places as various forms of Bhairavas. The place where Devi Sati’s knees fell is Guheswari in Kathmandu. In Nepal the form of Shakti is Mahashira and the form of Bhairava is Kapali. King Pratap Malla built this temple in the 17th century. The temple name originates from guhya (cave) and ishwari (goddess). Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple as well.
We went inside the temple and there were not many people there. We just prayed and went around the temple and were out in a few minutes.
The temple of Guheswari houses no image of any Goddess but has been regarded as a place of worship since times immemorial. Many believe this to be the temple to go to in order to pray for marital fidelity and a lot of Hindus will make the trip here to ensure that their marriage does not suffer.
For us, it was a quick stopover before we headed home to our warm cup of tea and warm jeri swari 🙂
Till next time, take care
M from nepaliaustralia
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very interesting post.i am sure, this kind of post definitely helps to spread Nepali culture and tradition….
Thank you ..
Very interesting too bad I can’t enter a Hindu temple. I like monkeys but far far farrrr away from me I wouldn’t come close to them.
I don’t really like that rule but that is how things are. You could still see the temple from the other side of the river .
I, too, am scared of monkeys when traveling to a place they are not in cages. I feel it is the start of an action movie about a weird virus from a monkey bite or something. . . Haha.
When I was young , I had a very bad experience with monkeys. They tried to snatch something I was carrying so I don’t like them 🙂
I too am glad they no longer ask a wife to give her life, but fascinating history and post.
Imagine the faith women had those days. Thank god it is better for us now 🙂