The essence of the experience
One of the four most esteemed, religious sites in Asia, Pashupatinath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Established in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings, the site itself is said to have existed from the beginning of the millennium when a Shiva lingam was discovered here. Spanning both sides of the Bagmati River, regarded as immensely holy by Hindus, this is the largest temple complex in Nepal. Listed in UNESCO World Heritage site, the main pagoda style temple has a gilded roof, four sides covered in silver and wood carvings of superior quality.
The banks of the holy Bagmati River are a thriving hive of bustling, colourful activity. Chaotic religious stalls peddle their wares of golden marigolds, Prasad (offerings), sweet smelling incense, rudraksha beads, conch shells, embellished images of Hindu deities and temples, tika powder in a kaleidoscope of colours, glass lingams, models of Mt Meru and other religious paraphernalia.
On raised platforms along the river, the sacred cremations of Hindus take place. Sadhus and devotees of Shiva flock to Pashupatinath from across the subcontinent and many Nepalis choose to be cremated on the banks of the holy river. Non-Hindus cannot enter the main temple, but can enjoy the surrounding complex of Shaivite shrines, lingams and ghats, the stone steps. This is a very intense, colourfully rich place with incredible photo opportunities. Not least with the sadhus, religious spiritual men who are wander the environment with tan sandals and copper bangles.
Enclosed in the inner sanctum of the temple sits the Shiva lingam and outside resides the largest statue of Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Shiva. There is hundreds of Shiva lingam within the compound. The spectacular Maha Shivaratri festival in spring attracts draws hundreds of thousands of devotees from within Nepal and from India. In this enthusiastic passionate hub, integrating this religious, cultural and spiritual experience is an eye opening event.