The Pashupatinath Temple is a famous and sacred temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is located on the banks of the Bagmati River, 5 km northeast of Kathmandu Valley on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the capital of the country. The area of Pashupati encompasses 264 hectares of land including 518 temples and monuments.
The main temple of Pashupatinath is a building with a bunk roof and a golden spire. It is located on the western bank of Bagmati and is considered a masterpiece of Hindu architecture. It is a cubic construction with four main doors, all covered with silver sheets.
The two-storied roof is made from copper and is covered with gold. This richly decorated temple with wooden sculptures is believed to make wishes come true. One of the most astonishing decorations of the temple is the huge golden statue of Nandi (Shiva’s mount).
Only followers of Hinduism can enter the main temple, but all the other buildings are available for foreigners to visit. From the Eastern bank of the river the main temple can be seen in its whole beauty. The western bank of Bagmati also hosts the Panch Deval (Five temples) complex, which once was a holy shrine but now serves a shelter for destitute old people.
Numerous religious buildings are also located on the eastern bank of Bagmati; most of them are devoted to Shiva. The majority of these buildings are small single story constructions made from stone. From the outside these buildings are reminding crypts, but in reality these are sacral buildings, created for holding the symbol of the deity Shiva lingam (erect phallus). Lingams can be found all over the complex.
As far as Shiva is considered the patron of animals and all living organisms, monkeys and deer are wandering all around the temple complex on both banks of Bagmati. It is also very common to meet sadhus (wandering ascetic yogis) in Pahsupathinath.
Pashupatinath Temple is located near Gausala. Bus service is available from Ratna Park bus station. It takes around one hour to reach Gausala.
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 unknown 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 Lichhavi 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 story 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.
Thousands of devotees from within the country and outside the country come to pay homage to the deity. Many festivals are celebrated here. The important festivals are Maha Shivaratri, Bala Chaturdashi and Teej.