Spanning both sides of the Bagmati River, UNESCO World Heritage Site Pashupatinath is the largest temple complex in Nepal and regarded as immensely holy by Hindus and one of the most significant religious sites in Asia. The main pagoda style temple is a spectacular silver coated place of worship with a gilded roof, gold pinnacle and intricate wood carvings. Existing since the beginning of the millennium this temple is devoted to Lord Shiva, also known as Pashupatinath meaning ‘Master of Animals’. Enclosed in the inner sanctum of the temple sits a Shivalingam and outside resides a large statue of Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Shiva. Non-Hindus are prohibited from entering the scared main temple but can enjoy the surrounding complex of shrines and ghats (riverside steps).
Sadhus and devotees of Shiva flock to Pashupatinath Temple from across the subcontinent and many Nepalis choose to be cremated here. Sprawled on raised platforms along the holy Bagmati River, the sacred last rites of Hindus take place. There are over 492 temples and places of interest dotted along the River to explore including Gaushala, Jaya Bageshori, Deupatan, holy baths of Gaurighat and the scared Sleshmantak Forest.
The banks of the River are a hive of bustling activity with stalls selling golden marigolds, prasad (offerings), sweet smelling incense, rudraksha beads, conch shells, images of Hindu deities and temples, tika powder in a kaleidoscope of colours, glass lingams, models of Mount Meru and other religious paraphernalia. Sadhus, religious men, weave through the throngs adorned in tan sandals and copper bangles.
The spectacular Maha Shivaratri Festival takes place in spring and is a celebratory event integrating religion, culture and spirituality and draws hundreds of thousands of devotees from Nepal and India.