Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu


Brief Introduction:

The temple of Pashupatinath is Nepal's most sacred Hindushrine and one of the subcontinent's great Shiva sites. Pashupatinath Temple, NepalPashupatinath, beside the sacred Bagmati River, is the holiest place in Nepal. Pashupatinath's supreme holiness has two major parts. One is that Shiva linga enshrined in the main temple and its location on the banks of Bagmati. Hindu devotee plunge into the holy Bagmati river daily and recite the verse from the ancient Vedas. It is believed that plunging or bathing into the holy river releases from the cycle of rebirth.

It is believed that sex organ of Shiva fell to Nepal. The main temple of Pashpati nath ( meaning Lord of Beasts believed to be divine protector of Nepal) contains a lingam of Pashupati which is three and a half feet high and has four faces sculptured on it.

Pashupatinath is Nepal's most renowned Hindu cremation site. In HIndu culture, after the person  is dead, his/her dead body is wrapped in cloth and placed on bamboo litter and bodies are delievered by barefoot pallbearers accompanied by the male relatives. The eldest son from the family performs the cremation ceremony and the dead body is burnt. A few hours later the ashes are collected and swept in the river which will join the Holy Ganges eventually.

Pashupatinath, Cremation Ceremony

Cremation in Pashupatinath on the Bank of Bagmati River

History of Pashupatinath :

Pashupati means "Lord of the animals" and it one form of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva has 1008 name and forms and as Pashupati he watches over the souls of men and is worshipped as the patron deity of Nepal. Though there is no proof when the temple originated the oldest evidence is data 477 A.D but the temple may have stood here nearly 1000 years before that.

One of the legend about Lord Shiva is that once Shiva took the form of an antelope being weary of throngs of worshipping demigods and wandered in the Mrigasthali Forest on the Bagmati river's east bank. The Gods were looking for him and finally found him as an antelope and they grabbed him by horn and forced him to come back to his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga, and it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished farmer found him cows showering the milk on the earth. Digging deep in the site, the farmer is believed to uncover the divine linga of Pashupati.

Lord Pashupati is invoked on official treaties, pledges, political speeches and appears on coins and royal coat of arms. Pashupatinath is one of the great holy Shiva places of the Indian Subcontinent, and no pilgrimage is complete without a visit to it. 

Where is Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu ?
Pashupatinath temple is in the banks of Bagmati river on the eastern side of Kathmandu. The place where Pashupatinath is located is called Gaurighat, Kathmandu. People often say the location as Gaushala, Jaya bageswori etc. So, when you reach near the intersection of Gaushala or Jaya Bageswori or Mitrapark then you will see the board where it is written "The Way to Pashupati". The another easier way to figure out is "Bagmati river is flowing beside Pashupatinath". You may hear the sounds of bell from the temple as well.

How to Reach Pashupatinath ?

From Airport :
Once you know where is Pashupatinath then you can plan to visit there. If you are somebody who just came from Airport and want to go there, then if you are taking a cab or taxi it will take maximum 10-15 minutes to reach there. If you want to go from public transportation, you should take the bus, microbus or tempo ( a three wheeler taxi) which says it is going to Gaushala or Chabahil. You would be able to find plenty of vehicles around there.

Map that will show how to reach Pashupatinath from Airport.
Pashupatinath, Pashupatinath directions

Going to Pashupati from Newroad / Jamal/ Durbar marg.
There is a bus stop near these listed locations and the bus stop is called Old Buspark. If you plan to go to Pashupati from Old Buspark, then you can go from that location. Bus may take extra time because it has frequent stops. I would prefer going by microbus ( small bus looks like van, there are two distinct colors white and blue ). The microbus stop is just on the side of Ranipokhari ( A lake where you will see the Building in the middle). There you will see number of microbus of queque and you need to take the microbus which is going towards Jorpati, Gaushala or Mulpani. These are stops that would come after Pashupatinath. If you feel difficulty remembering these names, you can just ask whether it goes to Gaushala or not and make sure you ride on the vehicle that is going from Gaushala. You would be able to find the blue microbus from this location. 

The following map will show how to reach Pashupatinath from Newroad/Jamal/Durbar marg

Pashupatinath temple, directions to Pashupatinath

 Going to Pashupatinath from Ring Road :

If you are somewhere in ring road, then you would find number of vechicles that just runs around the Ring road. Ring road is the road that rotates around the Kathmandu City. YOu should ask whether the bus goes to Gaushala/ Jaya Bajeswori because some buses may not go to that location. The fair may be around Rs 15-20. Depends on which place you ride the vehicle.

Who can enter the Pashupatinath main temple ?
Pashupatinath temple has covered a huge area and you can wander there for hours and hours enjoying the environment over there. But inside the main temple of Pashupatinath, only Hindus are allowed to enter. If you say you are Hindu then you would be allowed to enter. In the past there are several cases, where people have disguised and went inside. But don't worry, you can watch everything that happens inside the temple from the other side of Bagmati river. There are several other temples over there. The most popular and well known are Kirateshwor Mahadev and Guheswori temple. THere are other hundreds of temples over there. To name some of few are Gorakhnath Temple, Ram Mandir, etc.

Bagmati River, Pashupatinath Temple
Two Sides Of Pashupatinath area separated by Bagmati River. Everybody can go to the left part of the river as shown and can see everything happening on the other side. 
The Biggest Festival celebrations on Pashupatinath :
If you are in Nepal on these occasions then you would definitely don't want to miss this opportunity to witness the distinct culture of Hindus in Nepal. Most of the people near Pashupatinath go to temple everyday, plunge into the Bagmati river, do Arati ( song of Gods), worship God, and light "dhup". But people living in Nepal would try to make it to Pashupatinath on these several occasions :

1) Balachaturdasi : In this festival, people go to Pashupatinath the previous night of Balachaturdasi and spend the whole night in temple. During this time, they sing Bhajans (the songs written on the greatness of God) whole night and entertain themselves. Near the Pashupatinath temple there is one forest named "Slesmantak" Forest. And on this day, people go there and plant seeds of different types of plants . This is also called as "Saadbiu", Saad = good, biu = seeds.

2) Janaipurnima :
In Nepal, Hindu put the sacred thread on their body and with this thread they worship God everyday. This is the day where Hindus changed the sacred thread in the body for whole year. It is believed that wearing this thread would remind them from committing sin and bad things. On this day Hindus wake up very early and take shower and go to Pashupatinath and worship God SHiva. Here they worship the sacred thread also and change their sacred thread. In this festivals, you would get a chance to see several Hindu Brahmins chanting mantra in the temple premises and people put "tawa " ( it is also the sacred thread but it is put on the hand) . 

3) Shivaratri : The word Shivaratri has a very distinct meaning. Shiva means Lord/ God Shiva and ratri means "night". So, this day is whole dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is the public Holiday in Nepal.


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