The Pashupatinath temple in the east of Kathmandu has been a religious site for both Hindus and Buddhists for maybe over 2000 years. Daily thousends of pilgrims visit Pashupatinath, with a top day on Maha Shivaratri when hunderds of thousends of pilgrims come to pay their tribute to Shiva. The Pashupatinath temple complex is one of the Unesco world heritage sites of the Kathmandu Valley.
Pashupatinath is the biggest Shiva temple complex in the world and consist of 492 temples and more than one thousend Shiva lingams. The Pashupatinath temple is a pagoda style temple with a golden roof and a massif silver door. Inside is the holy Shiva lingam of Pashupatinath the lord of the Animals an avatar of Shiva. The Shiva Lingam is four faced for ordinary people but it is said it has an invisible fifth face.
As per tradition the priests of the Pashupatinath temple come from the south of India. A long tradition which is said to be installed by Sage Sankaracharya. The priest come everyday to the temple between 8 and 9 am to lead the offerings and bath the Shiva Lingam which is also done around 5 pm.
Besides the Shivalingam there is a shrine for Unmatta Bhairava which is one of the eight forms of Bhairava the angry form of Shiva. The temple streches up to the Bagmati river where you find the "Arya Ghat". The most importent cremation ground of the Kathmandu Valley. All importent people and others who can afford it are cremated here. Different castes have different places at the ghat to burn their death.
Pashupatinath temple has covered a huge area and you can wander there for hours and hours enjoying the environment over there. But inside the main temple of Pashupatinath, only Hindus are allowed to enter. If you say you are Hindu then you would be allowed to enter. In the past there are several cases, where people have disguised and went inside. But don't worry, you can watch everything that happens inside the temple from the other side of Bagmati river. There are several other temples over there. The most popular and well known are Kirateshwor Mahadev and Guheswori temple. THere are other hundreds of temples over there. To name some of few are Gorakhnath Temple, Ram Mandir, etc.
Pashupati means "Lord of the animals" and it one form of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva has 1008 name and forms and as Pashupati he watches over the souls of men and is worshipped as the patron deity of Nepal. Though there is no proof when the temple originated the oldest evidence is data 477 A.D but the temple may have stood here nearly 1000 years before that.
One of the legend about Lord Shiva is that once Shiva took the form of an antelope being weary of throngs of worshipping demigods and wandered in the Mrigasthali Forest on the Bagmati river's east bank. The Gods were looking for him and finally found him as an antelope and they grabbed him by horn and forced him to come back to his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga, and it was buried and lost. Centuries later an astonished farmer found him cows showering the milk on the earth. Digging deep in the site, the farmer is believed to uncover the divine linga of Pashupati.
Lord Pashupati is invoked on official treaties, pledges, political speeches and appears on coins and royal coat of arms. Pashupatinath is one of the great holy Shiva places of the Indian Subcontinent, and no pilgrimage is complete without a visit to it.
Situated on the banks of river Bagmati, This temple is just 5 km away from the center of Kathmandu towards north-eastern side. There is a regular bus service to and from from this place. One can also stop by the place while coming from or going to Boudhanath, which is more than half day's affair from Kathmandu. One can also walk down to Boudhanath as it just half an hour walk from here and vice-a-versa.