Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu (World Heritage Site)
Sri Pashupatinath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located along the sacred Bagmati river in Kathmandu, Nepal.
This Pashupatinath Temple was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Deity of Pashupatinath Temple
The main idol of Pashupatinath Temple is a stone Mukhalinga with a silver Yoni base bound with a silver serpent. This is one metre high and has faces in four directions, which represent various aspects of Lord Shiva; Sadoyojata (also known as Barun or Varun), Vamadeva (also known as Ardhanareshwara), Tatpurusha, Aghora, and Ishana (imaginative). Each of the face has tiny protruding hands holding Rudraksha mala in the right hand and a kamandalu in the other hand. This Lingam is always dressed in its golden vastram except during Abhisheka, unlike other Shival Lingams in India and Nepal. Hence, pouring milk and Ganga Jal is only possible during the Abhisheka ritual through the main priests.
Architecture of Pashupatinath Temple
The main Pashupatinath Temple is built in the Nepalese pagoda style of architecture. The two level roofs are of copper with gold covering and the temple rests on a square base platform with a height of 23m 7cm from base to pinnacle. It has 4 main doors covered with silver sheets. The temple has a gold pinnacle. Inside are 2 garbhagrihas : the inner garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum is where the idol is placed. The outer sanctum is an open corridor.
Pashupatinath Temple Timings
Morning Darshan : 04.00 am – 12.00 pm
Evening Darshan : 05.00 pm – 09.00 pm
Aarti Timings : 06.00 pm – 07.30 pm
Abhisheka : All 4 doors are also opened during Abhisheka from 09.00 am – 11.00 am. Abhisheka is done based on the direction the mukh is viewed.
The main inner sanctum has four entrances: east, west, north and south. Devotees can worship from all 4 doors from 09.00 am to 01.30 pm.
Priests of Pashupatinath Temple
Only 4 priests can touch the Shiva Idol of Pashupatinath. Daily rituals of Pashopatinath temple are carried out by 2 groups of priests : the Bhatta and the Rajbhandari.
Bhatta perform the daily ritual and can touch the lingam, whereas Bhandaris are helpers and temple caretakers, who are not qualified to perform puja rituals or to touch the deity.
Bhatta : Bhatta are highly educated Vedic Dravida Brahmin scholars from Karnataka, India. The priesthood of Pashupatinath is not hereditary, unlike other Hindu Temples in India. These Bhatta priests are selected from a group of scholars educated by Shri Shankaracharya Dakshinamnaya Peeth Sringeri on Rig Vedic recitation, initiated in Pashupat Yoga, Shiva Agama and learned recitation of Samaveda from Haridwar. After qualifying and fulfilling all these criteria, Bhatta Priests are selected for Priesthood by Raj Guru of Pashupatinath Temple undergoing strict examination on Vedas and Shiva Agamas. The choosen priest is sent to Kathmandu to perform Pooja and daily ritual and worship of Pashupatinath Temple.
Rajbhandaris : The Rajbhandaris are the treasurers, temple caretakers, and assistant priests of Pashupatinath Temple. They are the descendants of helper priests brought up by early Bhatts, but were allowed to settle in Kathmandu Valley and later assimilated in to the existing Newar Caste System of Rajbhandari – a high caste Chathariya/Kshatriya clan of Kashyapa Gotra. The main task of Rajbhandari is to help the Bhatt priests and perform maintenance of the inner Garbhagriha of Pashupatinath.
Entry of Pashupatinath Temple
Entrance Free to Pashupatinath Temple.
There are 4 entrances in the cardinal directions and the western entrance is the main entrance to Pashupatinath Temple courtyard and the other three entrances are open only during festivals.
The temple security, Armed Police Force Nepal, and the Pashupatinath area development trust are selective regarding who is allowed entry in to the inner courtyard.
Festivals celebrates at Pashupatinath
Mahashivaratri : This festival is in the honour of Lord Shiva and devotees believe that Lord Shiva is Adi Guru, who is the source of Yogi tradition.
Teej : Teej is one of the most celebrated festival at Pashupatinath Temple.
Other Shiva temples near Pashupatinath, Kathmandu
- Doleshwar Mahadev Temple : Doleshwar Mahadev Temple of Bhaktapur is 20 km from Kathmandu city center. Devotees of Lord Shiva believes that the trip to Kedarnath is incomplete without Doleshwar Mahadeva and Pashupatinath yatra. Devotees believe that visiting all the three holy places (Kedarnath, Pashupatinath & Doleshwar Mahadev) can wash off all sins of one’s lifetime. The missing head of Kedarnath is Doleshwar Mahadev.
- Gokarna Mahadev Temple : Legends explain how Lord Shiva was roaming in Gokarna forests in the disguise of a deer and when the Gods came down looking for him. They recognised him and captured him by the horns. In this process, the horn broke in to three pieces and the spot where Lord Brahma buried these pieces is where the temple is located. The inscriptions at Gokarneshwar Temple, which in its current form was built in 1582 AD, describes the origins of the spot well before the Lichhavi period and informs us that the place was of great significance even before them. Devotees visit Gokarna Mahadev Temple in memory of their fathers on Gokarna Aunsi which falls around September.
- Santaneshwor Mahadev Temple : Legends says, as Lord Shiva was distressfully carrying the body of Sati all around the world, the brest of Sati fell on top of the hill where Santaneshwor Mahadev Temple stands. Santaneshwor Mahadev Temple is located in Jharuwarasi in Lalitpur and believed that the people who do not have children, once they please Lord Shiva visiting Santaneshwor Mahadev Temple, then their lap would not get barren.
- Kailashnath Mahadev : Kailashnath Mahadev in Sangha, inaugurated on 21st of June 2010, is known to be the tallest Shiva idol in Asia. This Shiva Statue in Sangha is 108 feet high and the number 108 has special significance in Hindu mythology. This premises spread over 400,000 sq feet area and hoses a resort, spa, yoga, health club and meditation cener.
Significace of Pashupatinath Temple
As per Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here became famous as Pashupati – means the lord of animals.
As per beliefs, who die in this temple are reborn as a human, regardless of any misconduct that could worsen their karma. The exact day of their death is predicted by astrologers of pashupatinath temple.
Only Hindus can enter the main temple, but all other buildings are open for foreigners.
Another unique feature of Pashupatinath Temple is that only 4 priests can touch the main idol.
There is a raw of numerous Shiva Lingams present at this temple.
Pashipatinath temple is located on the western bank of Bagmati River and is considered a masterpiece of Hindu architecture.
Its a cubic construction with four main doors covered with silver sheets.
The two storied roof is made of copper and is covered with gold. This richly decorates Pashupatinath Temple with wooden sculptures is believed to make wishes come true. One of the most astonishing decorations of the temple is a huge golden statue of Nandi – Lord Shiva’s bull.
Only Hindu’s can enter the main temple, but all the other buildings are available for foreigners to visit. From eastern bank of holy Bagmati River the main temple can be seen in its whole beauty.
Number of religious buildings are also located on the eastern bank of Bagmati, most of them are devoted to Lord Shiva.
Along the bank of Bagmati, number of platforms for funeral pyres are built. The cremations on these platforms are a common activity. Tourists have the chance to see at least one open air cremation.
History of Pashupatinath Temple
Construction date of Pashupatinath Temple is uncertain, but the current form of this temple was constructed in 1692 CE. Over time, many temples have been built around this two storied temple, including the Vaishnava temple complex with a Rama temple from 14th century and the Guhyeshwari Temple mentioned in an 11th century manuscript.
Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu, Nepal and the existence is recorded as early as 400 CE. There are many legends, how the temple of Aalok Pashupatinath came in to existence.
One legend says that Lord Shiva and Parvati took the form of antelopes in the forest on the east bank of Bagmati river. 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 the time it was buried and lost. Centuries later, a herdsman found that one his cow showering the earth with milk, and after digging that site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.
A Licchavi king Prachanda Dev built the temple, according to Gopalraj Aalok Bhatt.