There is no dearth of Hindu temples in the world dedicated to a variety of gods. But some temples are considered holier than the others. One of the most renowned of temples is the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal. Pashupati is dedicated to Lord Shiva and literally means ‘lord of animals’.
It is located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, Kathmandu. Even though it is barred to non-Hindus, others can get a good view of the temple from the opposite bank of the river.
The temple is truly a masterpiece of architecture. It is a square, two-tiered pagoda temple built on a single-tier plinth, and it stands 23.6 meters above the ground with richly ornamented gilt and silver-plated doors.
The roof is made from copper and is covered with gold. The struts under the roofsare decorated with wood carvings of Parvati, Ganesh, Kumar or the Yoginis, as well as Hanuman, Rama, Sita, Lakshman and other gods and goddesses. The golden statue of Nandi is one of the most alluring of decorations of the temple.
The complex comprises of many temples. South of the temple isChadeshvar, an inscribed Licchavilinga from the 7th century. North of the temple is a 9th-century temple of Brahma. On the southern end is the Dharmashila, a stone where sacred oaths are taken, and pillars with statues of various Shah kings.In the northeast corner of the temple is the small pagoda temple of Vasuki, the King of the Nagas.
The Bagmati River, which runs next to Pashupatinath Temple, is lined with many ghats for pilgrims.
It is said that once Lord Shiva became tired of his old palace Kailashnath atop the Himalayas, and so he moved to Mrigasthali, the forest on the opposite bank of the Bagmati River. Lord Shiva was amazed by the beauty of the site.To remain hidden amongst the Gods he turned himself into a deer.
Despite pleas from the Gods, Lord Shiva used to keep returning to Mrigasthali. This is when the Gods decided to use force to get him back to Kailashnath. It is said that Lord Vishnu grabbed Lord Shiva (deer) by his horns and shattered the horns into pieces.
Lord Vishnu then established a lingam on the banks of the Bagmati river with the shattered horn pieces. As time passed, the temple was buried and forgotten.Later, a cow is said to have noticed the linga and shed her milk there. When the cow herders dug at the spot, they found the lost linga and built the temple which came to be known as the Pashupatinath temple.The earliest evidence of the temple’s existence dates back to 400 A.D.
It is believed that those who die in the Pashupatinath Temple are reborn as a human, regardless of their karma.Because Lord Shiva is considered the patron of animals and all living organisms, monkeys and deer are seen wandering all around the temple complex.