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Recollections of a holy visit to Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

After an enchanting road trip from Raxaul to Kathmandu we reached the hotel where we booked accommodation, in the evening. As it was an 8 hours road trip we had dinner and went to bed early. It was the month of October and the weather was cool. Our Day 1 itinerary included a visit to the famous Pashupatinath temple.

About Nepal and Kathmandu

Nepal is a landlocked country in the Southern Asia. It is mainly located in the Himalayas bordering North and North-East India. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and is at an altitude of 4,600 feet above sea level. The city lies in the Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal in the Himalayan hill region. The city experiences a subtropical climate with warm days and cool nights.

A majority of the people in Kathmandu follow Hinduism. The local people speak Hindi fluently. Buddhism is also followed by the people of Nepal.

About Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the most sacred Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is an ancient 8th century temple complex located on the banks of Bagmati River. This age-old temple is designated as World Heritage site by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization).

A divinely visit to the world famous Pashupatinath temple (Shiva temple) is the dream of a majority of Hindus across the world.

At the entrance of the temple, there is a row of shops selling various pooja materials like 'spatika lingam', 'rudrakshas' etc. That is quite attractive and luring to shopping sprees like me. This 8th century temple under went renovations. At the West gate entrance, there is an imposing 'Nandi' (the divine bull) with gold coating, on a raised platform facing 'Shiva Lingam'.

The main temple of Pashupatinath has a two-storeyed roof made of copper with a golden spire. There are four main doors covered with silver sheets. The temple is decorated with wooden sculptures.

Best time to visit the temple

Pashupatinath temple opens every day at 4 a.m and closes at 12 noon. In the evenings it remains open from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. The best time to visit the temple is either early in the morning or late evenings as there will be less crowd during this time of the day.

Most of the Shiva temples in India have only one main entrance leading to the 'garbha griha'. But in Pashupatinath temple, the 'garbha griha' i.e sanctum sanctorum is square shaped with four entrance doors facing four directions. Devotees moving in lines can have 'darshan' from all the four entrances. There are priests at each of these four main entrances. Devotees can give their offerings like 'bel' leaves, flower garland etc, to the priests for performing pooja. By paying few extra bucks to the priests, devotees can also perform 'ksheerabhishekam' i.e pouring of milk on the 'lingam' in their name.

During our visit to the temple (years before the 2015 devastating earthquake) we paid Rs.100/- (now, the rate may vary) and the priest placed a garland of  54 'panchamukha rudrakshas' (5 slits / faces) on the 'lingam' and performed 'ksheerabhishekam'. The 'rudraksha mala' was given back to us. There is a belief that possessing the 'rudraksha mala' bought in Pashupatinath temple together with a similar 'mala' with 54 rudrakshas bought from Kedarnath (together these make 108 rudrakshas) is good.

The main Shiva Lingam is about 3-4 feet tall. It is a 'jyotirlinga' and is believed to be a 'swayambhu' one i.e self appeared. There are 4 faces on the 'lingam' each of which faces each of the 4 directions and each with a different name.
  1. The face that faces east is known as 'Tatpurusha'
  2. The South facing face is known as 'Aghora'
  3. The West facing face is 'Sadjyota' and
  4. The North facing face is known as 'Vamadeva'.
  5. And the top part of the lingam faces the sky.
Pilgrims move around the temple complex after the 'divine darshan' of Pashupatinath. There are around 30 small temples all around. The shrine of 'Kala Bhairava' is very prominent. The big idol of 'Kala Bhairava' is fully made of bronze.

On the whole it would be a sacred experience for Hindus and Shaivites in particular, to visit the ancient temple of Pasupatinath. The temple is located on the banks of River Bagamati.

Mythological story

There is a story in connection with the temple which goes like this:

Once Lord Shiva left His divinely abode Mt Kailash and while wandering, He was attracted by this peaceful valley in Kathmandu. He stayed in this valley in the disguise of a deer, became famous over a period of time and thus became the Lord of Animals i.e 'Pashupati Nath'. When the gods felt His absence, they identified the majestic dear as Lord Shiva.

A holy visit to this wonderful temple is something that is unforgettable in life.

Places to visit in Kathmandu

  1. Buddha Nilakantha temple.
  2. Swayambhunath
  3. Boudhanath
  4. Durbar Square
After going round the temple we rested for a while. Outside the temple there is a row of shops selling rudraksha and other such pooja materials. We did small shopping and then proceeded to yet another important Hindu temple - Budhanilakantha temple

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