Built in 17th century, this Pagoda styled temple stands as an important religious symbol for Hindus in Nepal. Pahupatinath temple’s origin starts several centuries prior to the construction of this structure. Many legends surround this place and most of them are quite interesting to listen, whether or not you are a Hinduism follower. This temple is one of the seven UNESCO heritage sites of Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Surrounded by bustling arrays of markets, this temple overlooks the glittering stretch of Bagmati River. In the words of every religious visitor, this site is the emblem of spiritual energy.
History of Pashupatinath Temple
According to mythology, Gods sometimes take disguise of animals, birds or men to retire from their cosmic work and enjoy earth. On one such occasion, Lord Shiva and Lord Parvati visited earth in the form of deer. They reached the forest regions of Nepal and were mesmerized by the beauty of the land. When they reached the banks of River Bagmati, they decided to stay there for eternity. When the other gods and saints decided to bring the couple back to their cosmic work, Lord Shiva rejected the offer. With no other option, Gods decided to use force to bring them back. During this colossal fight, Lord Shiva, in the disguise of a deer, lost one of his antlers. This antler was worshipped as the first lingam of Nepal in Pasupatinath. The lingam is said to be reclaimed by Mother Earth and was lost for several centuries, until one day, Kamadhenu, deity in the form of cow came down to earth, irrigated the soil around the region with her milk and retrieved the lingam. The villagers retrieved the lingam and built a wooden temple. The temple is said to be at the site from 400 AD.
According to an inscription found inside the temple, the wooden temple was thriving during 800 AD and Supusapa Deva king built the five storeys over the temple, again using wood. The temple was rebuilt in 5th century. In 13th century, Ananta Malla King added the artistic details to the temple. Later, it was destroyed by passage of time and termites. In 17th century, the current structure was rebuilt with 492 temples along with the main temple.
Location of Pashupatinath Temple
This temple is located in Pashupatinath Road of Kathmandu Valley. It is around 5 km to the east of Kathmandu, closer to the banks of River Bagmati.
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Airport – 5 Km
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Kathmandu City Center – 3 Km
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Thamel – 4.3 Km
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Bhaktapur – 13.2 Km
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Patan – 9.2 Km
- Distance between Pashupatinath Temple And Kathmandu Bus Stop – 24 Km
Architecture of Pashupatinath Temple
The temple covers 264 hectares of ground, which covers 518 structures inside it. The main temple is built in pagoda styled inside a fortified courtyard. The entire complex is divided into two parts, the inner courtyard and outer complex.The main temple is beautifully carved with wooden rafters. The roof of the temple is made with copper and is coated with gold. There are four main doors to the temple and all the doors are covered with silver sheets. The inner sanctum of the temple holds the idol and the outer sanctum is a corridor styled open area.
The main idol in the temple is a stone lingam with a silver serpent. This lingam has four sides and five faces. Each face holds two hands with rukrasha mala and a kamandalu. Once you enter the large arch gate, you will see a golden bull statue, which is said to be the enabler of Lord Shiva. Pashupatinath temple is built in pagoda style. You can find statues of Lord Parvati, Lord Ganesh, Lord Kumar, Lord Ram with Sita, Lord Hanuman and Lord Lakshmi.
Importance of Pashupatinath Temple
1. Birth, Death And Sex Are Integral Parts Of Life
This temple denotes an ancient Hindu philosophy, which dictates that death is not something to be feared and sex is not something to be disgusted. Thus, you can find a ritual cremation ground very close to the temple and sexual paintings on the roof of the temple.
2. It is not just one temple
The Pashupatinath temple is the main shrine of this complex. However, you can find hundreds of smaller temples inside the complex. You can find Guhyeshwari temple, Vatasala Temple, Ram temple, Sati’s Gate and so on. Gorakhnath temple complex holds many small shrines inside it too.
3. One of the Jyotirlinga Complex
There are twelve jyotirlingas in the world. According to legends, Shiva appeared as a mighty pillar of light, piercing the world. The spots where the light touched earth are called as jyotirlingam. There are twelve Jyotirlingams in the world and each site is now a temple of Lord Shiva. These sites are said to be very pure sites of pilgrimage activities. One of those twelve is Pashupatinath temple of Nepal.
4. After-Life Salvation
This temple is said to provide salvation from the sins committed by a soul during its life on earth. Many elderlies and saints live in this temple complex, to make sure they die in this site of religious salvation.
5. Watch Cremation
As said before, death is an integral part of life. The Holy River Bagmati is the site for cremation. You can watch the whole process of cremation and even take pictures. Make sure to be subtle and stay far away from the process. It might be an adventure for you, but it is the last ritual of a loved family member for people in the ritual.
Interesting facts about Pashupatinath Temple
- The original temple was built in 400 AD, making this temple to be an important historic structure and the oldest temple in Kathmandu Valley.
- The structure of the temple holds bulks of gold on the roof and spire. The doors are lined with silver sheets and the large statue of bull inside the temple is also made with gold.
- The lingam of the temple is unique when compared to other Shiva temples. The lingam holds four faces and the deity is five-sided structure, with the top portion distinguished as Ishan.
- This is one of the very few temples around the world, which has an restriction of allowing only Hindus to access the main temple of inner courtyard
- Most of the paintings in the temple are made with gold.
- Although a very pious temple, you can find many paintings on the roof, which describes sexual postures. This is a clear indication that sexual culture was an integral part of religion during ancient times of Hinduism.
- The Arya Ghat of the temple is said to be the most sacred spot of all places in Nepal. The water in the ghatis said to be very pure. This ghatis used for cremating royal members of Nepal court.
- According to myths of Hinduism, if a soul has committed many sins, it will not be born as a human in the next birth. Instead, itwill be incarnated as some animal. It is said that the blessing from the lingam in the temple will wash all your sins and you would be reborn as a human, during your next birth.
- The banks of River Bagmati is now used as an open-air cremation. You might catch a burning corpse during your visit.
- In 2015, Nepal suffered 7.8 magnitude of earthquake damaging structures and human life. However, the old Pashupatinath temple stood unharmed expect a few cracks.
Visiting Timing of Pashupatinath Temple
The temple has four entrances and the main entrance is located in the western side. The other entrances are opened only during festivals and special occasions.
- The inner temple courtyard is open from 4 am to 9 pm, every day.
- The lingam is open for devotees from 5 am to 12 pm and from 5 pm and 7 pm
- Abhishekam timing – 9 am to 11 am
If you are a Hindu, it is better to bring any proof with you (ID card). This will allow you to access the inner temple courtyard.
Entry Fee of Pashupatinath Temple
- Abhishekam ticket cost – NPR 1100
- Entrace fee – NPR 1000 ($10)
- Cost of guide – NPR 1000
How to Reach Pashupatinath Temple
The temple is just 15 minutes’ car drive from Kathmandu Durbar Square. You can find buses from Ratna Park to the temple, very easily. Cost of hiring a private taxi from Kathmandu City Center to the temple will cost $15. This includes to and fro travel along with waiting time.
If you were closer to Boudhanath, it would be easier to reach Boudhanath and then take bus or taxi, as per your budget. No matter where you are in Kathmandu or Thamel, you can find taxis to the temple, easily. If you are arriving to Nepal via airport, you can find buses and taxis from the airport to the temple directly. The airport is just 15 minutes of walk away from the temple.
Best Time to Visit Pashupatinath Temple
The best time to visit the temple is during any local festival. The most important festivals are Teej Festival, Maha Shiv Ratri, Bala Chaturthi and others. In terms of climatic conditions, the best time to visit the temple is from October to December. This is the time when the weather is cool and dry. The sky will be clear too. If you are visiting during the Maha Shiv Ratri, which falls in March or February, the climate can be a little hot. Carry as much water as possible with you. You would be spending a couple of hours inside the complex and you should not get dehydrated during this activity.