Reasons to visit Pashupatinath Temple, you ask?? Then — if you are a curious minded folks in terms of religions, culture and tradition then Pashupatinath is the perfect place to witness Hinduism first hand. It’s a mash-up of religion, art, culture, and history that makes Pashupatinath a must-see.
Pashupatinath Temple, nestled on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu city, is one of Lord Shiva’s most prominent sanctuaries — not only in Nepal, but around the world. It is the oldest temple in Kathmandu Valley and recognized as the fourth most important historical place in Asia for devotees of Lord Shiva. This is the home of Nepal’s national deity, Lord Shiva’s incarnation Pashupatinath, who is the father of all living creatures in the universe according to Hinduism.
UNESCO World Heritage Pashupatinath, aside that spans both banks of the Bagmati River, is Nepal’s largest temple complex and is considered extremely sacred by Hindus. This place holds important significance for the Buddhist community as well. In 1979, UNESCO inscribed the Pashupatinath Temple as a World Heritage Site. This vast Hindu temple precinct is a sprawling assemblage of temples, ashrams, statues, and inscriptions constructed over centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple grounds are a living museum.
Reasons to visit Pashupatinath temple are stated below that may match what you are looking for:
1. Historical Importance
One of the reasons to visit Pashupatinath Temple because of its historical importance which makes it a must-see. The history depicts the legends of Lord Shiva and the extra-ordinary origin of Pashupatinath Temple.
According to mythology, Lord Shiva and his wife, Parvati, landed on the banks of the Bagmati and were so taken with the beauty of the place that they chose to transform into deer and roam through the surrounding forests. They opted to spend the rest of their lives on the east bank of the Bagmati River.
When the other gods and saints proposed returning the couple to their cosmic form, Lord Shiva declined. With no other choice, the Gods resolved to employ force to bring them back. In the process the gods snatched one of his horns, compelling him to revert to his divine form. The shattered horn was worshiped as a linga, but it was eventually buried and lost. Centuries later, a herdsman spotted one of his cows pouring milk on the ground, and after digging there, he uncovered the celestial linga of Pashupatinath. And the Pashupatinath temple came into existence since then.
In terms of facts, the actual era of the main Pashupatinath temple is unknown, although historians believe it was erected in the 5th century, most likely about 400BCE. It is considered one of the oldest temple in Nepal.
An inscription dated 753 CE by Supuspa Deva, a Lichchhavi King, claims to have built the first wooden temple. However, according to mythology, the lingam was there before this, and King Supuspa Deva erected a five-story temple atop it.
Of the 12th century, a King called Shivadeva is claimed to have rebuilt the temple in wood. The magnificent roof was then created in the 13th century by King Ananta Malla during Nepal’s finest creative period. This wooden temple was later destroyed by termites and completely rebuilt in the 17th century.
For the historians and enthusiasts of history, Pashupatinath temple has lot of reasons to be visited.
2. Religious Importance
Reasons to visit Pashupatinath temple can be religious purpose .For Hindu worshippers all over the world, Pashupatinath Temple is recognized as one of the most significant and sacred pilgrimage places. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world visit the temple in Nepal. Several more Hindu and Buddhist deities can be found in the region surrounding the main temple. Hence, Buddhist community also values Pashupatinath immeasurably.
Lord Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity, along with Brahma and Vishnu. He is father of all the living beings and also considered god of destruction by Hindu. Having Lord Shiva as major god in Hinduism, Pashupatinath holds huge significance in hearts of every Hindu.
The major idol, or sacrosanctum, is a stone Mukhalinga with a silver yoni base bound by a silver snake. It stands one meter tall and has four faces that symbolize different parts of Shiva: Sadyojata (also known as Barun), Vamadeva (also known as Ardhanareshwara), Tatpurusha, Aghora, and Ishana (imaginative). Each face features little projecting hands, one clutching a rudraksha mala and the other a kamandalu. Unlike other Shiva lingams in India and Nepal, this lingam is constantly dressed in its golden vastram (i.e. dress), except during abhisheka, hence pouring milk and Ganga Jal is only accessible through the major priests during the rite.
The holy Shiva Linga in Pashupatinath is more than a reason for Hindu community to visit Pashupatinath Temple. It has such significance that any Hindu around the world has Pashupatinath Temple way up in their bucket list.
3. Unique Nepalese Architectural Design
Hindu worshippers attend the temple for religious reasons while reasons to visit Pashupatinath temple by international tourists are drawn to the shrine’s miniature temples and sculptures of many gods and goddesses. Wooden sculpture, statues, and many carvings devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, as well as other deities, demonstrate the temple’s artistic richness.
The main temple is designed in the Nepalese pagoda style. The two-story copper roofs are covered in gold. The temple stands on a square foundation platform and is 23m 7 cm tall from base to pinnacle. It features four major doors, all of which are coated with silver sheets. A gilded pinnacle crowns this temple (Gajur). There are two garbhagrihas inside: the inner garbhagriha, or sanctum sanctorum, houses the idol, while the outside sanctum is an open corridor-like room.
There are dozens of miniature Shiva shrines in the garden, which is surrounded by stone terraces and accessible through two footbridges across Bagmati and in front of Pashupatinath temple. Wandering sadhus frequently dwell in these one-room shrines, each of which has a Shiva lingam. Although built in various styles, the temples share features such as Shiva’s sinister manifestation, Bhairab, on the South wall, bull head water spouts on the North side, and Nandi sculptures on the West side.
Various wooden as well as stone sculpture, pagoda style temple, stupas and miniature Shiva shrines can be a sweet treat for the art enthusiasts.
4. Observing Hindu Culture
Reasons to visit Pashupatinath Temple holds cultural importance in Hindu as well as Buddhist community. So, to observe such culture can be a reason to visit Pashupatinath temple.
Many festivities are connected to Lord Shiva in Hindu community. However, in Nepal Pashupatinath reminds every Nepali of the day that everyone has to face and is unavoidable that is the day when we die. This is because there is an Aryaghat, a location created for cremating Hindu’s dead as the temple is located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Talking about death is considered taboo in Western countries. However, the open air cremation humbles every Hindu devotees to their core as the death symbolizes the existence of power beyond everyone’s understanding. This act gives positive outlook towards life and boast appreciation towards what we have.
There are several festivals that is celebrated massively in Pashupatinath. Among which Maha-Shivaratri is one of the most prominent Lord Shiva festivities. During the Shivaratri celebration, a carnival-like atmosphere may be observed here. On this day, hundreds of thousands of Hindu worshippers from all across Nepal and India go to the temple. Aside from that, people go to the temple on Haribodhini Ekadashi, Balachaturdashi, and Teej which are celebrated by Nepali ladies. Moreover, Hindu ladies worship Shiva to get husband like Shiva himself. Similarly, Lord Shiva worshipers go to the temple every Saturday and Monday.
How to reach Pashupatinath Temple?
While visiting Pashupatinath temple, reaching there is quite easy and simple for international tourists. After landing in Kathmandu valley, all you have to do is turn right from the main entrance of Airport premises and continue walking straight for about 15 minutes. And you will see the temple premises on your right side. While walking towards the temple, you do not have to worry a bit because there is no chance in earth that you will miss the Pashupatinath area.
Reasons to visit Pashupatinath Temple, If you are international tourists then Pashupatinath is a perfect destination for art historians and history as well as architecture lovers. And for Religious people, Pashupatinath is a must visit place once in a lifetime. These are the reasons to visit Pashupatinath temple if you are searching for the reasons.