Situated 5 km east of Kathmandu city center, Pashupati literally means “Lord of Animals” and is considered to be the patron deity of Nepal. Pashupatinath is regarded as one of the holiest sites for Hindus all over the world.
Pashupatinath temple is a pagoda style two-tiered golden roof with exquisitely carved four silver doors containing in its sanctum a phallic idol with four faces facing each direction and the fifth one is looking up towards the zenith. A temple dedicated to Shiva was constructed at the present site by Lichhavi King Supushpa Verma according to an ancient chronicle. However the present temple is claimed to have been built by king Bhupatindra Malla in 1697 AD. Legend has it that a cow would frequently escape from its herds and offer milk on a Jyotirlinga(phallic symbol of Shiva) which denotes the point where the temple stands today. It is said that a certain cowherd much to his surprise found the self-generated Jyotirlinga (phallic symnol of Shiva) when he dug the spot where the cow would give milk. The spot immediately became the center of worship that has been continued till today.
Legend also mentions that the Pandavas after the great Mahabharata battle were told that only by sighting Shiva would they be absolved of their sins and it was at this very spot they saw the lord. Hence, this most sacred abode of Shiva, who is the God of the gods-Mahadeva-merits a visit by all Hindus, at least once in a lifetime, to be truly blessed and cleansed. It is believed that pilgrimage to the four dhams like Dwarika, kedar Rameshwar and Jaganath of India becomes meaningful only after a final darshan of Pashupatinath and by a taking a holy dip in the Bagmati River and conducting a proper puja and circling the 525 Shiva Lingas in the temple premises will free a person from the cycle of births and rebirths. In the premise of the Pashupati temple are other temples like Bhairavnath, Vasuki nag, Parbati temple, Ram mandir, Vishwo rup, Gorakhnath, Kirateshwor temple and dozens of temples dedicated to different gods and goddesses.
A considerable part of the temple vicinity is converted to rest and prayer areas. Behind the temple on the banks of Bagmati is a crematorium for Hindus. It is the wish of every Hindu to be cremated on the bank of the Bagmati river in the temple of Guheshwori dedicated to Shiva’s consort Parbati also known as Satidevi. There is also a deer park at the back of the temple across the Bagmati river. It is also interesting to watch the minkeys roam in and around the temple freely. One may also observe Sadhus smeared with ashes and dressed in loin-cloths and the Hindu Brahmins offering Tika and blessing to the visitors. Pshupatinath attracts thousands of Pilgrims on spring festival Maha Shivaratri(Feb—March), the day dedicated to Shiva, Hari Talika/Teej(Aug-Sep), Janai Purnima(July-Aug), and all Mondays of the month of Shrawan(July_August).
In October 1979 Pashupati area was declared as the world Heritage Site by UNESCO and the temple is being managed by Pashupati area Development Trust. The temple activities can be observed from the back of the temple.