Pashupatinath Temple: A Reflection of Nepal’s Religious And Cultural Heritage

A beautiful temple in the holy city of Kathmandu, Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in South Asia and one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. The temple sits on the banks of sacred Bagmati River, where devotees immerse the ashes of their loved ones and perform pujas to seek peace and satisfaction in their lives. But Pashupatinath Temple is way more than these.

Pashupathinath Temple also called Pashupatinath, is one of the main temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the oldest temples in Nepal, and one of the 10 World Heritage Sites in Nepal. The exact date of the temple’s construction is still unceratain, though the Pashupatinath Temple can be traced back to the 4th or 5th century.

Today, it stands as an important reflection of Nepal’s religious and cultural heritage – both fascinating and intriguing to visitors from all corners of the world. This blog post will provide you some indepth informations about this famous and popular temple in Nepal.

The Name

The word Pashupatinath comes from two Sanskrit words, Pashu and Pathi, which mean animal (living creature) and lord respectively. Thus the name literally means Lord of animals or Lord of living beings. Thus, Pashupatinath literally translates to Lord of Animals, from Pashu (animals) + Pathi (Lord). It is not clear when or how Pashupatinath came to be known by that name. However, one legend behind its name claims that all animals in Nepal were once people who had been turned into animals by a wrathful goddess named Taksaka.

History Of Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple is one of most important and famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located on banks of Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Pashupatinath is believed to be among oldest temples in Nepal. It also holds a very significant place among all other prominent Hindu temples. With so much rich history associated with it, Pashupatinath temple has been witness to numerous historic events not only in Nepal but also outside its borders.

The origins of Pashupatinath date back to prehistoric times. Archaeological excavations have revealed stone and copper weapons dating back more than 5000 years. The actual date of the construction of the Pashupatinath Temple is still uncertain, and none know when and who built this famous temple in Nepal. Though it is said the current form of the temple is built in 1692 CE. Even before formal worship began, ancient people came to these places to perform rituals. Evidence has been found near Pashupatinath that suggests human sacrifice was practiced as part of a funeral rite in those times.

There are many stories and legends behind the existence of Pashupatinath Temple. One legend says that Shiva and Parvati took the form of antelopes in the forest on the Bagmati river’s east bank. The gods later caught up with him and grabbed him by one of his horns, forcing him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga, but over time it was buried and lost. Centuries later a herdsman found one of his cows showering the earth with milk, and after digging at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath. It is also said that the temple is actually built by a Lichhavi King Prachanda Dev. While another legends says the temple was built in the form of Lings shaped Devalaya before Supushpa Dev constructed a five-storey temple of Pashupatinath.

With time, the temple was repaired and renovated several times. That’s why it is standing even today. The temple was reconstructed by a mediveval king Shivadev in around 1100 CE. Later it was renovated by the Malla King Ananta Malla adding the present roof to it.

Architecture

architecture of pashupatinath temple

Even being the oldest temple in Nepal, the architecture of the Pashupatinath Temple is still very attractive. The current form of the Pashupatinath Temple is built in pagoda style of architecture. The most attractive element of the temple is its two-levels roof which is made up of copper with gold plating. The temple rests on a square base platform with a height of 23m 7 cm from base to pinnacle. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets. This temple has a gold pinnacle (Gajur). Inside are two garbhagrihas: the inner garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum is where the idol is placed, and the outer sanctum is an open corridor-like space.

Tourist Attractions In The Premises

Pashupatinath Temple has been attracting millions of domestic and international tourists to its premises throughout the year. Pashupatinath Temple has many things to offer beside peace and devotion. Spread in about 240 hectors of land, the entire are of Pashupatinath Temple is covered with many small and big temples and monuments for tourists and devotees.

The main attraction of the area is the main temple of Lord Pashupatinath. Although the main complex of temple is open to only Hindus and Buddhits, non-Hindus can satisfy themselves by observing from the terrances just across the Bagmati river to the east side. By the Bagmati riverside, there lies Nepal’s most holy cremation site where you can people performing the last rite of their loved ones.

Or someone who is non-Hindu can catch tantalising glimpses of what is going on inside from several points around the perimeter wall. From the main gate on the west side of the compound, someone can view the mighty golden behind of an enormous brass statue of Nandi, Shiva’s bull. Inside the shrine, hidden from view, is a black, four-headed image of Pashupati.

Best Time To Visit Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple is a place that you can visit anytime in the year. Throughout the year, atmostphere and weather around Pashupatinath is quite refreshing for anyone to visit. It is one of those places in Nepal which is always crowded. So, it will be quite difficult for you if you love avoiding crowd. Although in the months from September to November, Pashupatinath Temple is less crowded than other months of the year.

Crowd during Maha Shivaratri in Nepal

If you visit Nepal in the months of February to March, you will experience on the most celebrated festivals of Nepal at the Pashupatinath Temple. Experiencing the celebration of Maha Shivratri will be one of the best religious events for you.

While visiting Pashupatinath Temple, you can take many photos here but be careful not to point your camera toward anyone bathing because it is considered disrespectful.

It’s Religious Importance

Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most important, holy, and sacred temples for Hindus around the world. The temple, which attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees each year, is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva: one of the trimurtis of Hinduism, and is also recognized as the seat of Hinduism’s Adi Shakti – Goddess Uma or Parvati. – and it also serves as an important center for Nepal’s Newar community.

According to Hinduism, Lord Pashupatinath is considered to be the protector of the universe and patron diety of the Nepalese. But Pashupatinath Temple isn’t a temple having religious values for Hinduism. The temple equally holds the cultural importance for the Buddhists, Kirats, Sikkhs, and Jains in Nepal.

Thousands of devotees come to Pashupatinath for worship and prayers on the daily basis, while many tourists come to the temple because of the temples attractions that include many small temples, sculpture of many gods & goddess, wooden sculptures, statues, different carvings dedicated to Lord Shiva & Mata Parvati, and many other richness of art lies within the temple. Apart from all these, Pashupatinath Temple is considered as sacred for Hindus even after death. That’s why Aryaghat is built there on the bank of sacred Bagmati river for cremating the bodies of Hindus.

Mystery Of Pashupatinath Temple

The Pashupatinath temple is not only one of a kind, but also has a unique history, with each detail about it being an interesting mystery in itself. The Pashupatinath temple, located in Kathmandu, is one of a kind that stands apart from all other temples all over India and Nepal as well. It is situated on both banks of Bagmati River. Standing on the banks of Bagmati river for over centuries and centuries, Pashupatinath Temple, which is a sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images, and inscriptions. Still, none can say the exact date when this temple was built and came to existence. There are only legends and stories associated to the mystery of Pashupatinath Temple.

Interesting Facts About Pashupatinath Temple

Here are some interesting facts about Pashupatinath Temple that you probably don’t know:

  • It is said that Lord Shiva meditated here for years under a Peepal tree, before proceeding to Kashi.
  • Pashupatinath Temple has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.
  • This holy place attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year especially during Shivaratri festival and in the month of Shrawan.
  • According to tradition, anyone who dies within Pashupatinath Mandir’s premises will attain salvation or Moksha. So many dead bodies are brought here everyday and cremated at its cremation ground called Ghats.
  • People also come here to perform rituals like Tarpan (offerings made into fire after death ceremony) etc.

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