Pashupatinath Temple

The most sacred Hindu temple in Nepal is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In February-March the site holds the famed Maha Shivaratri festival, the great night of Shiva. The temple complex is very large, with guesthouses, temples, shrines and other landmarks. Its burning ghats on the river banks are the holiest in Nepal. 

The temple's legendary foundations begin with the god Shiva's retreat from heaven to this spot, where he incarnated as a deer. The other gods beeseched him to return, and after a struggle in which one of his antlers broke off, he planted the horn in the ground and declared the site forever holy. 

The legend contineus that the first man in Nepal, a figure named Ne (and pronounced "nay"), found the horn because his cow was spontaneously emptying her milk onto the side in worship. He beult the first temple on the site.

Historical foundations for the site are less clear. It is connected in medieval history books with the Kirat Dynasty that rules from about 800 BCE, and was surely a sacred site by the third century BCE. Stone sculptures of various gods and goddesses at the site can be confidently dated as early as the 4th century CE.

 

The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley

The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).

The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture. 

 

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu

   Kathmandu Durbar Square

   Patan Durbar Square

   Medieval Bhaktapur

   Swayambhunath Temple Complex

   Boudhanath Stupa

   Changu Narayan Temple

   Pashupatinath Temple

Changu Narayan Temple and Village

This is the most ancient Hindu temple in Kathmandu and is dedicated to lord Vishnu. The complex is built on a peninsula which was not submerged in water as most of the flat valley once was, and it may have even earlier roots than are now known. The lavishly decorated two-tiered principal temple stands in a spacious courtyard that is filled with artistic and priceless statues, idols and sculptures, some dating back to 4th century. 

For many years the earliest inscribed date known in the valley was here, on the base of an early 5th century pillar. The image of Vishnu in the main temple is so holy that non-Hindus are not allowed to see it (though it has been widely copied by Nepali artists). 

The temple comples lies at the western end of a long, narrow ridge. The village of Changu Narayan sits along this ridge. This attractive and characteristic town would be reason enough to visit, even without the temple complex.

 

The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley

The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).

The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture. 

 

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu

   Kathmandu Durbar Square

   Patan Durbar Square

   Medieval Bhaktapur

   Swayambhunath Temple Complex

   Boudhanath Stupa

  Changu Narayan Temple

   Pashupatinath Temple

Swayambhunath Stupa and Temple Complex

 

Swayambhu is a Buddhist stupa set on a hill northwest of Kathmandu, and surrounded by a complex of other temples. More than 2,500 years old, this ancient landmark is connected to the visit of the bodhisattva Manjushree who created Kathmandu - a lake then - by draining its waters with his magical sword. The sage saw a celestial lotus in bloom on the top of this hill and sanctified it. 

The earliest legends and chronicles mention the site, and the name means Self-Created Lord." The site probably was sacred from the first habitation: Stories tell of a dazzling radience that poured off the hill, and historians speculate that either an outcropping of crystal that refracted light or a natural gas vent ignited by lightening could have been the original object of worship. The current stupa was built in the early 5th century CE, on the site of an earlier stupa according to the records.

In addition to the mound's symbolism - the Buddha's burial mounds - site sumbolizes the five elements of earth, fire, wind, water and spirit. The 13 gilded rings of the spire mark the 13 steps of the path to nirvana, the final salvation. 

The pilgrim's progress to Swaymbhunath's holy premises is a climb through a sylvan path of 365 steps. The entrance is graced by a huge vajra (symbol of thunderbolt). Statues of Buddha are on the four corners of the stupa. Statues of goddessses Ganga and Jamuna guard the eternal flame behind it. The terraces around the hilltop are ideal for viewing Kathmandu and the valley. 

 

The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley

The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).

The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture. 

 

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu

   Kathmandu Durbar Square

   Patan Durbar Square

   Medieval Bhaktapur

   Swayambhunath Temple Complex

   Boudhanath Stupa

   Changu Narayan Temple

   Pashupatinath Temple

Boudhanath Stupa

Stupas are Buddhist memorials. Though they can be from a few inches / centimeters tall to hundreds of feet / scores of meters tall and come in a wide variety of forms, the heart of every stupa is a representation of the burial mounds under which the Buddha's cremated remains were placed, one stupa at each of the major locations where he had taught. 

Stupas contain either relics or "treasures," typically religious texts, at their core but are solid masonry. Legend says that the enormous stupa here was built during a draught using water collected from dew to make mortar each day. 

The stupa is built on many levels of terraces, and is painted with safron garlands and adorned with prayer flags. It is set in a mandala (mystical circle) design. Altogether 108 Buddha images and 147 inset prayer wheels adorn the base of the huge circular edifice. It was created in the mid 5th century and has had many renovations since. The last major update was in the middle 1850, when the outer ring of prayer wheels was added.

 

The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley

The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).

The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture. 

 

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu

   Kathmandu Durbar Square

   Patan Durbar Square

   Medieval Bhaktapur

   Swayambhunath Temple Complex

   Boudhanath Stupa

   Changu Narayan Temple

   Pashupatinath Temple

Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the Medieval Town

Enter through a massive royal gate into a complex of palaces, shrines and resthouses. On the left are a pair of statues in stone. The king, legend says, was so pleased with the first that he ordered the sculptor's right hand cut off so that he could create no more works so fine. The sculptor than did the second sculpture with his left hand, which was also removed. Legend says that somewhere is a third sculpture of equal merit, carved by the scukptor using only his toes.

Then there is the Rameshwor Temple, and in the middle of the square the gilded statue of King Bhupatindra Malla seated on a tall stone pillar faces the most exquistitely artistic Sun Dhoka, or the golden gate, leading into the royal palace. The place is also called  the "palace of 55 windows" - for the wing adjacent to the gate. 

The square is replete with pillars and pavilions: Chyasalin Mandap, Duga Temple, Taduchhen Bahal, Batsala Durga, Pashupati Temple, Taumadhi Tole and others. In an adjacent square, is the famed 30-meter (98 feet) Nyatapola Temple, the tallest and most multi-roofed edifice in Nepal. To its right is the Kashi Bishwanath Temple. On the side of the square is the Nyatapola Cafe, and beyond it is the community of the famous potters. 

Bhaktapur is not a recreation of a medieval town: It's a real one. Development passed Bhaktapur by when, in the late 1700s, Kathmandu became the capital. In the early 1980s monuments in the old city were restored and strict development rules were applied to maintain the traditional character. It's a gem of world heritage today, and a trip back in time.

 

The Magnificent Seven - The World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley

The Valley of Kathmandu is fertile, flat and compact. It is situated at the altitude of between 1,200 to 1,500 meters (between 4,000 to 5,000 feet).

The valley is also small, with an area of only 220 square miles (570 square kilometers). Yet in its smallness, there are record seven World Heritage Sites declared by the UNESCO - a fact unrivalled anywhere in the world! The seven man-made wonders are the milestones of Nepal's past and a living museum of high culture. 

 

Unesco World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu

   Kathmandu Durbar Square

   Patan Durbar Square

   Medieval Bhaktapur

   Swayambhunath Temple Complex

   Boudhanath Stupa

   Changu Narayan Temple

   Pashupatinath Temple