Pashupat Kshetra is one of the holiest pilgrimages in Nepal. Pashupatinath Temple is the major attraction of this area. The temple complex lies in the heart of Kathmandu with just couple of kilometers form Kathmandu airport. The pashupat Kshetra houses antique relic right from the beginning of the Kirati civilization some 2000 years ago. Worshipped as the guardian deity of Nepal, Pashupatinath symbolizes the beginning of human settlement in the plains of Kathmandu valley. The word Pashupati literally means lord of animals. The temple receives a large number of worshippers and pilgrims from different parts of Nepal as well as India throughout the year. As it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, it attracts hundreds of foreign tourists everyday. Pashupatinath Temple is located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. There are temples of different gods and goddesses in the Pashupat Kshetra like Guheshwari, Kiranteshwar, Basuki Nagraj, Bhairav, Budhanilakantha and Ganesh, among others. Aryaghat, the holy cremation site, lies on the premises of Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of bagmati River. The temple premises takes festive look during major festival like Mahashivaratri, Teej, bala Chaturdashi and the holy month of Shravan. Entrance to the main courtyard of Pashupatinath is allowed to Hindus only.
10 Interesting Facts about Pashupatinath Temple
The Pashupatinath Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Pashupatinath who is more commonly known as Lord Shiva. Located in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, this temple has been listed as a World Heritage Site on UNESCO’s list. Let’s explores some interesting facts about Pashupatinath temple:
1. Existing since 400 A.D.
Pashupatinath Temple is not only religiously important; it is also historically important as it’s existence dates back to 400 A.D.
2. The Legend related to its Origin
There is a famous legend associated with the origin of Pashupatinath Temple. According to this legend, every day a cow used to visit this specific spot and offer her milk to the ground. The owner of the cow saw her one day and got suspicious. So, he dug up the place and found the Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. Slowly more and more people gathered around the Shivalinga to worship, and Lord Pashupatinath got popular while this place became a pilgrimage center.
3. The Structure
Pashupatinath Temple is located on the Western Bank of river Bagmati. This temple is considered as a masterpiece of Hindu architecture. The main temple consists of a building with bunk roof and golden spire. It is cubic in shape, and the four main doors are covered in silver sheets. Also, the two storied roof had been constructed from pure copper covered with gold. The main attraction of this temple is the shining Shivalinga and the huge golden statue of Shiva’s Bull, Nandi.
4. The Lingam
The Lingam at Pashupatinath temple is unique. Its uniqueness is due to the Lingam is four– faced. The faces are such that they are towards the four directions. The face facing East is called Tatpurusha, the one facing West is called Sadhyojata, the one facing North is called Vamadeva and the one facing South is called Aghora. The uppermost portion of the Shivlinga is called Ishan.
5. Only Hindu can enter
The main temple of the Pashupatinath Temple can be accessed only by the Hindus. For people of all other religions, all the other parts of the building are open except the main temple.
6. Paintings and Sculptures
There are many uniquely artistic paintings and sculptures in different parts of the temple. At both sides of each door of the temple, there are images of many Gods and Goddesses and Apsaras. Almost all these paintings are done in gold. Each and every beam which supports the roof of the temple is also sculpted with pictures depicting different types of sexual poses.
7. Arya Ghat
Arya Ghat at Pashupatinath temple is of special importance as this Ghat is the only place near the temple whose water is considered sacred enough to be brought into the temple. Also, this Ghat is considered very auspicious, and hence the member of Nepal’s Royal family are cremated here.
8. Nirvana seekers
It is said that Pashupatinath temple is so blessed that if you are cremated in its premises, you will again take birth as a human regardless of the sins you have done in your lifetime. So, a number of elderly people visit this place to spend the last few weeks of their lives in the Pashupatinath temple premise.
9. Open air Cremation
Every Day on the bank of Bagmati River beside which Pashupatinath temple is situated, open air cremation takes place. The eldest son of the deceased shaves his head and completes the rites. Instead of appearing grisly, the cremation seems quite serene.
10. Unharmed during the 2015 Earthquake
On 25 April 2015, when an earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes hit Nepal it started turning most of the nearby structures and some UNESCO’s world heritage sites into dust. But Pashupatinath Temple which has withstood the test of time once again stood tall facing the disaster. With just a few cracks on the wall, it appeared as a miracle structure amid all dust and rubble. While devotees claimed it as a sign of divine power; others are arguing that its strong base and architecture are the main factors which helped Pashupatinath temple to withstand the effects of the earthquake.
Source: discover-nepal.tripod.com By Shukla Sundeep
What To See
» Gold-painted images of guardian deities
» Chaturmukha (four-faced statue)
» Chadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavi linga from the 7th century
» Brahma Temple
» Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken
» Arya Ghat
» Gauri Ghat (holy bath)
» Pandra Shivalaya (15 shrines)
» Gorakhnath and Vishwarup Temples
» Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple
» Kirateshwar Mahadeva Mandir and Surya Ghat
» The two level roofs of the temple are embellished with gold and the four main doors are adorned with silver.
» The temple is famous for its awe-inspiring and astounding pagoda architecture.
» The western door has a statue of a large Bull, Nandi, is ornamented in gold. This black stone idol, about 6 ft in height and circumference, adds to the beauty and charisma of the temple.
» The present architectural nature of Pashupatinath temple came into existence as a result of renovation by Queen Gangadevi during the reign of Shivasimha Malla (1578-1620 AD).
There are many legends describing as to how the temple of Lord Pashupatinath came to existence here. Some of them are narrated below:-
The Cow Legend
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but overtime it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.
The Linchchhavi Legend
According to Gopalraj Vamsavali, the oldest ever chronicle in Nepal, this temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who according to the stone inscription erected by Jayadeva 11 in the courtyard of Pashupatinath in 753 AD, happened to be the ruler 39 generations before Manadeva (464-505 AD).
The Devalaya Legend
Another chronicle states that Pashupatinath Temple was in the form of Linga shaped Devalaya before Supus Padeva constructed a five storey temple of Pashupatinath in this place. As the time passed, the need for reparing and renovating this temple arose. It is learnt that this temple was reconsturcted by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). It was renovated by Ananta Malla adding a roof to it.
» Pashupati area is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimages for the followers of Hinduism. Thousands of devotees from within and outside the country come to pay homage to Pashupatinath every day. And on special occasions like Ekadasi, Sankranti, Mahashivratri, Teej Akshaya, Rakshabandhan, Grahana (eclipse), Poornima (Full moon day) the whole atmosphere turns festive and mirthful as people congregate here in a far greater number.
» During the Shivaratri (also spelled Shivratri) festival Pashupatinath temple is lit with ghee lamps throughout the night and the temple remains open all night. Thousands of devotees take ritual baths in the Bagmati river on the day of the festival and observe a fast for the whole day. Hundreds of sadhus (sages) from different parts of Nepal and India come here on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.
Auspicious Days To Visit
In August, during the Teej festival, thousands of women visit the temple to bathe in the holy waters of the Bagmati River. Because this ritual is meant to bring a long and happy marriage, many women dress in red saris, which are traditionally worn for wedding ceremonies. Full moon and New moon days are also considered auspicious to visit the temple.
Good To Know
According to a legend recorded in local texts, especially the Nepalamahatmya and the Himavatkhanda, the Hindu Lord Shiva once fled from the other gods in Varanasi to Mrigasthali, the forest on the opposite bank of the Bagmati River from the temple. There, in the form of a gazelle, he slept with his consort Parvati. When the gods discovered him there and tried to bring him back to Varanasi, he leapt across the river to the opposite bank, where one of his horns broke into four pieces. After this, Shiva became manifest as Pashupati (Lord of Animals) in a four-face (chaturmukha) linga.
How To Reach
» There are regular bus services from Kathmandu (from Ratna Park or City Bus Station) to Patan,. It takes approximately 45 minutes to reach Goshala, the stop for Pashupatinath.
» Battery-operated Safaa tempos depart from near the Ratna Park office in Kathmandu and drops the pilgrims at Ring Road, west of Pashupatinath. Thereafter, a tempo going to Chabahil or Bodhnath can be hired.
It is better not to take a local Kathmandu bus, because they are usually dirty and overcrowded. It is more convenient to ask the hotel for a reliable taxi service.
Be careful to arrange for the taxi to wait for you while you are in the Pashupatinath, because taking a local taxi for the return trip will cost you several times more.
Getting to Pashupatinath and back from Kathmandu city center by a taxi will cost around 15$, including the waiting cost.
Hiring a guide will cost about 10$, it is well worth the money since you really get explanations of the rituals and traditions of Pashupatinath.
To enter the site of the temple a foreigner needs to pay an entrance fee of 1,000 Nepalese rupees (about $10 USD).
The site is open every day from 4 AM to 9 PM but it is closed in the middle of the day between noon and 5 PM. The best time to visit the temple is early in the morning or late in the evening. One should reserve about 90 or 120 minutes to visit it.
Every morning the west door of the sanctum is opened by the Bhandaris (store-keepers) at 4 AM, from when worship begins. At half past nine in the morning the other three doors are also opened. After bathing the lingum with holy waters, sacred worship by Panchamrit Abhishek (consecration by ghee, milk, honey, sugar and curd) is done by the priests. During the time the lingum is elegantly dressed up in gorgeous costume, made of brocade and set with tripunda (sandal paste mark) Chattras (umbrellas) are also placed on the four heads. On the top head, the graphic Shri Yantra is drawn with sandal paste.Arti is performed then. Later Bhog is offered. After this Individual puja has been done for the public who would like to do special Puja at temple.
Drashan can be done any time from 4 A.M to 12 noon. From 12:00 noon to 5:00 PM, temple closes. At 6 pm Rudravishekam is done as mention above and from 6:30 to 7:00 P.M, client special puja is performed. In the evening Arti is performed exactly as morning methods.
Special worships are done on festivals i.e. full moon day (Purnima) the Ekadasi (The eleventh day of the new and full moon fortnights), every Monday and other auspicious days of the year like mahashivaratri, Teej, etc. Mahashivaratri, Hindu devotees on this night throng Shiva shrines everywhere, but the grandest of all activities revolve around Pashupatinath temple located on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River about three kilometers east of downtown Kathmandu. This all-night vigil and the exciting crowded festival days before and after attract thousands of people from India and Nepal. On this day women do fasting for prosperity, happy life, etc.