Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered puja at the famous 5th century Pashupatinath temple in Nepal on last Monday of Shravan. Modi was at the temple of Lord Shiva for about 45 minutes on a day which is considered pious as it was a Monday that falls in the month of ‘Shravan’.
Though I have always been curious about this temple since the time I had seen Devanand’s movie dum maro dum as a child which was extensively shot in Kathmandu and particularly in the temple. Since then it has been on my travel wish list. Now there is a revived interest in the Hindu shrine owing to Modiji’s visit to Nepal and Pashupati Nath temple.
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’. The temple is UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and its unique Features include only four priests, appointed by the King, can touch the idol of Lord Shiva. The priests are always from south India and it is believed that this tradition have been started by Sage Shankaracharaya in 6th century.
Its architecture is worth talking home about, 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).
The Hindu temple is located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, a village 3 km northwest of Kathmandu. It is dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals). It attracts thousands of pilgrims each year, mostly from India. There are a lot of Indian pujaris at the temple. There is a tradition of keeping four priests and one chief priest at the temple from among the Bramhins of south India for centuries. According to legend, the temple was constructed by Pashupreksha of the Somadeva Dynasty in the 3rd century BC, but the first historical records date from the 13th century.
Pashupati was a tutelary deity of the ancient rulers of the Kathmandu Valley; in 605 AD, Amshuvarman considered himself favored by his touching of the god’s feet. By the later Middle Ages, many imitations of the temple had been built, such as in Bhaktapur (1480), Lalitpur (1566) and Benares (early 19th century). The original temple was destroyed several times until it was given its present form under King Bhupalendra Malla in 1697.
According to a legend, especially the Nepalamahatmya and the Himavatkhanda, the Hindu god 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. 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.
You should not miss on visiting the following:
Gold-painted images of guardian deities
Chaturmukha (four-faced statue)
Chadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavi linga from the 7th century
Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken
Gauri Ghat (holy bath)
Pandra Shivalaya (15 shrines)
Gorakhnath and Vishwarup Temples
Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple
Kirateshwar Mahadeva Mandir and Surya Ghat
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.
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.
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.
You should also include this on your travel wish list.
In the meantime watch this beautiful rendition from Dum maro Dum shot on Devanand and Mumtaaz and beautifully sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar.