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Pashupatinath Temple | History, Architecture, Facts of Pashupatinath

Enjoy the Masterwork of Much Revered Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal

Situated on the Bagmati River banks near Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath temple is one of the few religious sites that people visit in large numbers in Asia. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is quite expansive, with several temples and ashrams built inside over the centuries. Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979, the Pashupatinath temple also takes pride in being the one among the Tamil Paadal Petra Sthalams.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple | Image Resource : bsmedia.business-standard.com

Amazing History of Pashupatinath Temple

It is believed that Licchavi King Prachanda Dev built the Pashupatinath temple in the 5th century. Later, several other temples were also built around this temple. Some of the famous ones are the Rama temple in the Vaishnava temple complex built in the 14th century. There are several legends about how the temple came into existence. Being one of the oldest temples in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, its existence is believed to be in 400 B.C. Here are the few legends about the temple’s origin.

  • The most popular legend is that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were spellbound by the beauty around the River Bagmati and disguised as an antelope and deer, they walked into the forests around. The gods who in search of Lord Shiva reached the forests near the river wanted him to return and when he rejected, they used force, which caused the antelope to lose one of its horns.
  • This is believed to be the first Shivalinga worshipped but it was lost buried under the mud. A few centuries later a cow herdsman saw one of his cows showering milk on the earth. He dug deep at the site to find the Shivalinga, called Pashupatinath.
  • Another legend says that Prachanda Deva, who was a Licchavi King, built the temple. He however happened to be the king 39 generations before Manadeva.
  • There is another legend which accounts that there was a Devalaya in the shape of Shivalinga and Supuspa Deva built a 5-storied temple at the site. Over the time, the temple needed repairing and Shivadeva, the medieval king reconstructed the temple. Later Ananta Malla renovated it by adding a roof to the temple. Gaining a lot of prominence at that time, the Pashupatinath temple was called the Temple of Living Beings and visited by a large number of people across Asia.
  • Nevertheless, the origin of Shivalinga is connected to the legend in which Kamadhenu, the holy cow that took shelter on the Chandravan mountain, went to the place and showered milk on the soil beneath which the linga was buried. Some people, who saw the cow doing it every day, went to the place and dug the soil to find a divine Shivalinga.

Excellent Architecture of Pashupatinath Temple

The Pashupatinath temple is situated on a vast area of 0.64 hectares. There is a pagoda-style temple, as well as several small temples and monuments. The main temple is positioned on the courtyard that is heavily fortified by the Nepal police and army. It is built in pagoda architectural style, which is found in Nepal. You can find all the characteristics of the Pagoda architecture, such as cubic-shaped structures on the beautifully crafted wooden rafters.

The two-level roofs of the building are made of copper and gold-plated. Raised on the square platform, the temple is 23.7 meters tall and has four entrances, with silver-plated doors. There is ‘Gajur’ or gold pinnacle. You can find two Garbhagrihas or sanctum sanctorum and in the inner sanctum, you can see the idol of Shiva. The outer sanctum is an open space.

About Divine Shivalinga

The principal idol of Lord Shiva is made of stone with the base in silver. With one-meter high, the Shivalinga represents four faces, which depict different aspects, such as Sadyojata or Barun; Vamadeva or Ardhanareshwara; Tatpurusha; Aghora; and Ishana of Shiva. The Shivalinga represents the five primary elements, such as earth, water, air, fire and sky. The deity is always dressed unlike the other Shivalingas in India.

Temples and Shrines in Pashupatinath Temple Complex

The inner courtyard, as well as the outer complex, has a number of temples and shrines and some of the popular ones are Vasuki Nath temple, Surya Narayana temple, Kirtimukha Bhairava shrine, Hanuman shrine, 184 Sivalinga shrine, Ram mandir, 12 jyotirlingha and Pandra Shivalaya and Guhyeshwari temple.

Some Facts about Pashupatinath Temple

This temple of Lord Pashupatinath is recognized for some interesting facts given below:

  • The origin of the temple is believed to be in 400 A.D. and therefore, it has a long history.

  • The structure of the main temple is a classic of Hindu architecture. The highlights are the cubic-shaped structure, with bunk roof, all gold-plated.

  • There is a large golden idol of Nandi, the bull.

  • The Shivalinga, unlike the others, is four-faced and each one faces towards one direction. Thus, you can find it facing east, west, north and south, representing various aspects of Lord Shiva.

  • The main entrance of the temple is heavily guarded and it is open to only Hindus. However, people of other religions can visit the temples and shrines located around.

  • You can find a lot of artefacts, such as sculpted doors and walls and paintings. They depict the images of different gods, goddesses and apsaras. You can also find Shivalingas sculpted at various places in the temple.

  • The Arya Ghat near the temple is believed to have sacred water that is used in the temple.

  • The temple was left untouched during the earthquake in April 2015. It is believed to be a miracle for most of the nearby places were destroyed by the earthquake, while the temple withstood the impact.

Some Famous Festivals of Pashupatinath Temple

Among the several festivals celebrated in the temple, the two most important ones are the Maha Shivaratri Bala Chaturthi festival and Teej festival. The Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the 14th day of the Magha month according to the lunar calendar. On this day, it is believed that the Shiva principle is quite active.

Thousands of devotees visit the Pashupatinath temple and stay there chanting Mahamrityunjaya mantra and Om Namah Shivaya. The temple conducts several special pujas and events during the festival.

The other festival is the Teej festival, in which Hindu women across Nepal celebrate it at the temple. During this time, women observe fast and pray to Lord Shiva for a long and peaceful life. By fasting, women believe that they are blessed with strong husband and wife bonding, which is essential for a happy and contented life.

Get to Know Pashupatinath Temple Timings

The temple opens at 4 a.m. for the devotees who love to visit early. The priests arrive later and when they reach they are engaged in cleaning and bathing the idol at 8.30 a.m. They adorn the idol with new clothes and jewelry. At 9.39 a.m., they serve the Lord with Baal Bhog or breakfast. After this, special pujas are performed and generally, people book for special pujas. It extends till 1.30 p.m.

At 1.45, Lord Shiva is offered lunch and the temple closes at 2.00 p.m. for a brief period. In the evening, the Pashupatinath temple opens for performing aarati and there is also Ganga aarati performed at the Bagamati River on some days. People throng the place during those days and sing Shiva tandav bhajan. The temple closes at 9 p.m.

How to Reach Pashupatinath Temple?

When it comes to the reachability, the Pashupatinath temple offers easy accessibility by air and road. There are several flights operated by IndiGo Airlines from Chennai, Mumbai, Vadodara, Bhubaneswar and Amritsar to Kathmandu. The Tribhuvan International Airport is just 6 km away from Kathmandu city and you can find a cab or buses to the temple from the airport.

There are bus services from Varanasi to Sunauli, which is the Nepal border. From there you can find local buses to Kathmandu. The other option is to travel from Delhi to Kathmandu, where you can find a bus taking you through a long journey that extends up to 30 hours.

Where you are in Kathmandu, you can board a bus from City Bus Station or Ratna Park to reach Goshala. It takes 45 minutes to reach Goshala. From there, you can find battery-operated tempos to get down at the Ring road, which is located on the west of the Pushpatinath temple.

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