Pashupatinath temple

Pashupatinath temple:Taken From Beautiful Park,Pashupatinath...Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

Pashupatinath temple is a Hindu temple located on the shore of the Bagmati river on the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
Pashupatinath 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'.

It is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva (Pashupati) in Nepal. "Shivaratri" or night of lord Shiva is the most important festival celebrated in this temple. Along the shores of the Bagmati river near the temple lies "Arya Ghat", the most widely used place of cremation for the deceased in Nepal, especially in and around the Kathmandu valley. There is also a large market in the streets surrounding the temple. Vendors sell souvenirs to tourists, but also cloth, dyes, and religious supplies. Believers of the faith Hinduism are allowed to enter the temple. Non-Hindu visitors are allowed to have a look at the temple from the other bank of Bagmati river

Pashupatinath Area

Pashupatinath Area:Taken From Beautiful Park,Pashupatinath...Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

The priests who perform the services at this temple are always from south India. This tradition is supposed to have started by Sage Shankaracharya in 6th century, ostensibly to stop human sacrifice which was prevalent in that temple. Another interpretation is that Indian priests are stationed at Pashupatinath because when the King passes away, the entire Nepali people are supposed to stop religious services and enter a year long period of mourning. As the Pashupatinath needs to be eternally worshipped, Indians were brought to make sure that the Pashupatinath is worshipped even at the time of official mourning. One of the best known of these priests was Raval Padmanabha Shastri Adiga (1927-2005). He started as a priest in 1955 and was promoted to Chief priest in 1967. In his time, he started a movement to use the temple funds for local development. He retired in 1993 and moved back to his home town Udupi.

Women Worshiping Pashupatinath
Women Worshiping Pashupatinath (Bramanal) Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

The temple is of pagoda architecture. The two level roofs are of copper with gold covering. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets. The western door has a statue of large bull or Nandi, again covered in gold. The deity is of black stone, about 6 ft in height and about 6ft circumference.

The priests are called Bhattas and the chief priest is known as Mool Bhatt or Raval. The chief priest is answerable only to the King of Nepal and reports to him on the matters of temple on periodic basis.

East of the temple is the Vasukinath.

Gorakhnath and Vishwarup Temples

Across the river and up the hill going up the main stairway is the interesting Gorakhnath complex. There are many monkeys along the steps leading to the temple. The main temple has a shikhara tower with a trident on top and is dedicated to Gorakhnath, the patron deity of the Shah Kings. It is surrounded by other temples, sculptures, statues of Siva and Nandi, and Siva lingas. It is said that Lord Siva came here in the form of a stag.
To the southeast of this temple is the Viswarup Temple, which is dedicated to the “Universal Form” of Lord Vishnu. There is a large statue of Siva and Parvati in this temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter and from the outside there is not much to see.

Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple

If you continue on path down the hill to the river from the Gorakhnath temple, you reach the Guhyeshwari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Kali. When Lord Siva was carrying away the body of Parvati after she burned herself to death, her yoni, the female sexual symbol, which is the female counterpart of a linga, fell here. It has a kalash in a pit that has liquid in it (RG). The temple name comes from guhya (vagina) and ishwari (goddess). King Pratap Malla built this temple in the 17th century. The temple is in a courtyard with dharamshala by it. It has four gilded snakes supporting its roof, which can be seen from the outside. Guhyeshwari is considered by Buddhist to be one of the powerful Bajra Joginis, four tantric goddesses, and this place is said to be from where to seed that Swayambhu lotus grew from.

BAGMATI RIVER,Pashupatinath

People doing "SRADDA" a Special ritual for pastaway relatives at the bank of BAGMATI RIVER,Pashupatinath. Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota


A boy observing the temples...Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

People doing

People doing "SRADDA" a Special ritual for pastaway relatives at the bank of BAGMATI RIVER,Pashupatinath. Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

Non-Hindus can not enter this temple and it is not possible to see inside.
Kirateshwar Mahadeva Mandir and Surya Ghat
You then follow the river west past the Kirateshwar Mahadeva Temple, where there are often classical Nepali music concerts on full-moon nights. You go over the river and then head south past Surya Ghat, where there are some caves in the cliffs. You could also climb up Kailash Hill, from where there is a view of the Pashupatinath area and on a clear day a good view of the mountains to the northeast.

From Guhyeshwari temple you can return to Pashupatinath or continue on to Boudhanath, which is about 2km northeast.

Fast Facts

Location5 km north-east of Kathmandu
CategoryUNESCO listed World Cultural Heritage Site
EraPrior 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

Description of Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupati Temple stands in the center of the town of Deopatan, in the middle of an open courtyard. It is a square, two-tiered pagoda temple built on a single-tier plinth, and it stands 23.6 meters above the ground. Richly ornamented gilt and silver-plated doors are on all sides.

On both sides of each door are niches of various sizes containing gold-painted images of guardian deities. Inside the temple itself is a narrow ambulatory around the sanctum. The sanctum contains a one-meter high linga with four faces (chaturmukha) representing Pashupati, as well as images of Vishnu, Surya, Devi and Ganesh.

Spectacular view of shiv tample

Spectacular view of shiv tample...Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

The priests of Pashaputinath are called Bhattas and the chief priest is called Mool Bhatt or Raval. The chief priest is answerable only to the King of Nepal and reports to him on temple matters on a periodic basis.

The struts under the roofs, dating from the late 17th century, are decorated with wood carvings of members of Shiva's family such as Parvati, Ganesh, Kumar or the Yoginis, as well as Hanuman, Rama, Sita, Lakshman and other gods and goddesses from the Ramayana.

Pasupati Aryaghat

A cremation at Pashupatinath. Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

Pashaputi Temple's extensive grounds include many other old and important temples, shrines and statues. South of the temple, for instance, is Chadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavi linga from the 7th century, and north of the temple is a 9th-century temple of Brahma. On the south side of Pashupati temple is the Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken, and pillars with statues of various Shah kings.

View of BAUDDHA STUPA from Guheswori temple Area

View of BAUDDHA STUPA from Guheswori temple Area.Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

In the northeast corner of the temple courtyard is the small pagoda temple of Vasuki, the King of the Nagas. Vasuki has the form of a Naga (mythical snake) from the waist upwards, while the lower parts are an intricate tangle of snakes' bodies. According to local belief, Vasuki took up residence here in order to protect Pashupati. One can often see devotees circumambulating and worshipping Vasuki before entering the main sanctum.

The Bagmati River, which runs next to Pashaputinath Temple, has highly sacred properties. Thus the banks are lined with many ghats (bathing spots) for use by pilgrims. Renovating or furnishing these sites has always been regarded as meritorious.

Around Gorakhnath Temple

Votive shrines across the river from Pashupatinath.
Photo by Amit Raj Sapkota

Arya Ghat, dating from the early 1900s, is of special importance because it is the only place where lustral water for Pashupatinath Temple can be obtained and it is where members of the royal family are cremated. The main cremation site is Bhasmeshvar Ghat, which is the most-used cremation site in the Kathmandu Valley. The preferred bathing spot for women is the Gauri Ghat, to the north.

Across the Bagmati River are 15 votive shrines, the Pandra Shivalaya, which were built to enshrine lingas in memory of deceased persons between 1859 and 1869.


» 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).

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.

» 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.


  1. Every Sunday and Full moon Day I performed Hawan-Yagya;A hINDU fIRE Ritual,for reconciliation in Pasupati surya ghat.


  2. Nepal is mentioned in Hindu scriptures such as the Narayana Puja and the Atharva Siras (800-600 BC).

    Nepal vacations