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Pashupatinath Temple

The Holiest Hindu Temple

Pashupatinath TemplePashupatinath Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, stands as a symbol of faith, religion, culture and tradition. Regarded as the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world, Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'.

Fast Facts
Location 5 km north-east of Kathmandu
Category UNESCO listed World Cultural Heritage Site
Era Prior to 400 A.D
Unique Features » Only four priests, appointed by the King, can touch the idol of Lord Shiva.
» The priests are always from south India.
» It is believed that this tradition have been started by Sage Shankaracharaya in 6th century.

What to See
» Gold-painted images of guardian deities
» Chaturmukha (four-faced statue)
» Chadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavi linga from the 7th century
» Brahma Temple
» Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken
» Arya Ghat
» Gauri Ghat (holy bath)
» Pandra Shivalaya (15 shrines)
» Gorakhnath and Vishwarup Temples
» Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple
» Kirateshwar Mahadeva Mandir and Surya Ghat

Architecture
» The two level roofs of the temple are embellished with gold and the four main doors are adorned with silver.
» The temple is famous for its awe-inspiring and astounding pagoda architecture.
» The western door has a statue of a large Bull, Nandi, is ornamented in gold. This black stone idol, about 6 ft in height and circumference, adds to the beauty and charisma of the temple.
» The present architectural nature of Pashupatinath temple came into existence as a result of renovation by Queen Gangadevi during the reign of Shivasimha Malla (1578-1620 AD).

Legends
There are many legends describing as to how the temple of Lord Pashupatinath came to existence here. Some of them are narrated below:-

The Cow Legend
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unkown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but overtime it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.

The Linchchhavi Legend
According to Gopalraj Vamsavali, the oldest ever chronicle in Nepal, this temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who according to the stone inscription erected by Jayadeva 11 in the courtyard of Pashupatinath in 753 AD, happened to be the ruler 39 generations before Manadeva (464-505 AD).

The Devalaya Legend
Another chronicle states that Pashupatinath Temple was in the form of Linga shaped Devalaya before Supus Padeva constructed a five storey temple of Pashupatinath in this place. As the time passed, the need for reparing and renovating this temple arose. It is learnt that this temple was reconsturcted by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). It was renovated by Ananta Malla adding a roof to it.

Festivals
» Pashupati area is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimages for the followers of Hinduism. Thousands of devotees from within and outside the country come to pay homage to Pashupatinath every day. And on special occasions like Ekadasi, Sankranti, Mahashivratri, Teej Akshaya, Rakshabandhan, Grahana (eclipse), Poornima (Full moon day) the whole atmosphere turns festive and mirthful as people congregate here in a far greater number.
» During the Shivaratri (also spelled Shivratri) festival Pashupatinath temple is lit with ghee lamps throughout the night and the temple remains open all night. Thousands of devotees take ritual baths in the Bagmati river on the day of the festival and observe a fast for the whole day. Hundreds of sadhus (sages) from different parts of Nepal and India come here on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.

Auspicious Days to Visit
In August, during the Teej festival, thousands of women visit the temple to bathe in the holy waters of the Bagmati River. Because this ritual is meant to bring a long and happy marriage, many women dress in red saris, which are traditionally worn for wedding ceremonies. Full moon and New moon days are also considered auspicious to visit the temple.

Good to know
According to a legend recorded in local texts, especially the Nepalamahatmya and the Himavatkhanda, the Hindu Lord Shiva once fled from the other gods in Varanasi to Mrigasthali, the forest on the opposite bank of the Bagmati River from the temple. There, in the form of a gazelle, he slept with his consort Parvati. When the gods discovered him there and tried to bring him back to Varanasi, he leapt across the river to the opposite bank, where one of his horns broke into four pieces. After this, Shiva became manifest as Pashupati (Lord of Animals) in a four-face (chaturmukha) linga.

How to Reach
» There are regular bus services from Kathmandu (from Ratna Park or City Bus Station) to Patan,. It takes approximately 45 minutes to reach Goshala, the stop for Pashupatinath.
» Battery-operated Safaa tempos depart from near the Ratna Park office in Kathmandu and drops the pilgrims at Ring Road, west of Pashupatinath. Thereafter, a tempo going to Chabahil or Bodhnath can be hired.
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