Pashupatinath means lord of living beings. Literally “Pashu” means animal “Pati and nath” meaning lord or owner. Shiva Puran says how lord Shiva was called Pashupatinath.
Once Lord Shiva got exhausted living in the Kailash Parbat all the time, he vanished without telling anybody. Goddess Parbati, his wife, was very worried when Shiva did not show up for many days. Through her spiritual vision goddess Parbati saw that in a beautiful valley of Kathmandu in the place known as Mirgasthali there was a golden deer grazing along with other flock. Goddess Parvati knew it was Lord Shiva. She went as a disguise herself as deer too and went to Mirgasthali. Both Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati stayed there for long period of time enjoying as deer life. The absence of Shiva and Parvati other deities started having trouble from devils and monsters. They also used their spiritual vision and found both lord Shiva and Parvati dwelling in the forest of Mirgasthali. In order to get hold of them lord Bhrama and Vishnu made a plan to catch the deer. Bhramaha and Vishnu tried to catch the deer Lord Brahama could only get hold of one of the horn. The horn soon broke into three pieces. One of the pieces dropped in Gokarna, second dropped in Sleshmantak forest and the main piece dropped and vanished in the place where present Shiva Linga of Pashupatinath sits.
Many years later a cow grazers in the valley saw his cow showering milk at a particular place every day. Being curious he dug the place and found the three and half feet tall Shiva lingam with four faces. It is believed that the cow grazer could not survive the heat from the lingam and was burnt into ashes.
Along with the temple of Lord Shiva Pashupatinth, Pashupati premises has hundreds of temples and thousands of idols of various gods and goddesses. There are 64 Shiva lingams of various sizes in the right side of the Shiva temple. Also on the right side there is a Bhairav temple with the idol of Bhairav about 6 feet tall. The temple of Ganesh, laxmi, Swaraswiti, Narayan, a big idol of Hanuman stands in front of Shiva temple. A big idol of ox (Nandi) sits in front of main temple. On the back of the temple there is a temple of serpent god Bashuki. On the eastern side, there are stairs to reach the Bagmati River. On the bank of the river the cremation ceremony takes place. On the other side of the river various temples of different gods and goddess are present. Main amongst the temples is the temple of Biswaroop. Biswaroop is the idol of Lord Vishnu showing Arjuna all his avatars. Also through the woods on the same way we reach Guheswori temple.
Every day a feast of 84 types of food is prepared for lord Shiva and at about 12 the food is taken inside the main temple to feed lord Shiva. This is done only by main Bhatta (main Priest of Pashupati temple). An hour long pooja is performed. In order to feed lord Shiva and to prepare the idol after the feast.
On the fun moon day (purnima) the feast is provided to the general public in the big plate on the floor in right hand side of the temple. Every evening the Aarati is done with songs and dances. Devotees specially come to see this aarati. Besides this different styles of artwork can be seen in Pashupati premises. Wood carved in the Tudals, metal works, stone carvings are also one of the main attractions of pashupatinath. Although different precious artworks are present in the temple, pictures cannot be taken. Cameras are not allowed in the temple.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. Built 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.
The largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus. The main pagoda style temple has a gilded roof, four sides covered in silver, and wood carvings of the finest quality. Temples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surround the temple of Pashupatinath.
Nearby is the temple of Guheshwori dedicated to Shiva's consort Sati Devi. Cremation of Hindus take place on raised platforms along the river. Only Hindus are allowed inside the gates of the main temple. The inner sanctum has a Shiva lingam and outside sits the largest statue of Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Shiva. There are hundreds of Shiva lingam within the compound. The big Maha Shivaratri festival in spring attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from within Nepal and from India.
Experience this highly recommended religious hub for a mix of religious, cultural and spiritual experiences. Located 3 km northwest of Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati River, the temple area also includes Deupatan, Jaya Bageshori, Gaurighat (Holy Bath), Kutumbahal, Gaushala, Pingalasthan and Sleshmantak forest. There are around 492 temples, 15 Shivalayas (shrines of Lord Shiva) and 12 Jyotirlinga (phallic shrines) to explore.
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the 8 UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley. It is also a cremation site where the last rites of Hindus are performed. The site and events at cremation is not for the faint hearted; still visitors are seen watching curiously from across the river from the hill. Visit Pashupatinath Temple for an out-of-this-world experience.
Daily Rituals at Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath is also one of the very few living cultural heritage sites in the world. Unlike other cultural sites or museums, Pashupatinath is centre of energy with active participation of people all times of the day, every day. The daily rituals of Pashupatinath Temple are as follows:
- 4:00 am: West gate opens for visitors.
- 8:30 am: After arrival of Pujaris, the idols of the Lord are bathed and cleaned, clothes and jewelry are changed for the day.
- 9:30 am: Baal Bhog or breakfast is offered to the Lord.
- 10:00 am: Then people who want to do Puja are welcomed to do so. It is also called Farmayishi Puja, whereby people tell the Pujari to carry out a special Puja for their specified reasons. The Puja continues till 1:45 pm in the afternoon.
- 1:50 pm: Lunch is offered to the Lord in the main Pashupati Temple.
- 2:00 pm: Morning prayers end.
- 5:15 pm: The evening Aarati at the main Pashupati Temple begins.
- 6:00 pm onward: Recently the Bagmati Ganga Aarati; done by the shores of Bagmati, has been gaining lots of popularity. We can see the shores of Bagmati crowded mostly on Saturdays, Mondays and on special occasions. Ganga Aarati along with Shiva’s Tandava Bhajan, written by Ravana, is carried out on evening Ganga Aarati.
- 7:00 pm: Door is closed.
Apart from the daily rituals, special observed are plotted during special dates of the lunar calendar.