Pashupatinath Temple (Nepali…श्री पशुपतिनाथ मन्दिर) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Pashupati, and is located in Kathmandu, Nepal near the Bagmati River. This is currently the largest temple in the world as well as one of the Oldest Temple,Paśupati or Pashupatinath, means “Lord of all animals“. It was originally it is also was the epithet of Rudra in the Vedic period. and it is one of the epithets of Shiva also.
This temple was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1979. This “extensive Hindu temple precinct” is a “sprawling collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions raised over the centuries along the banks of the sacred Bagmati river”, and is one of seven monument groups in UNESCO’s designation of Kathmandu Valley. It is built on an area of 246 hectares (2,460,000 m²) and includes 518 mini-temples and a main pagoda house.pashupatinath is also called the end of char dham in which there is religious believe of the people that is After the completion of char they will go to heaven in hindu religion.
The exact date of the temple’s construction is uncertain, but the current form of the temple was constructed in 1692 CE. Over time, many more temples have been erected around the two-storied temple, including the Vaishnava temple complex with a Rama temple from the 14th century and the Guhyeshwari Temple mentioned in an 11th-century manuscript.
Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It is not known for certain when Pashupatinath Temple was built. But according to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here gained great fame there as Pashupati. Pashupatinath Temple’s existence is recorded as early as 400 CE. The ornamented pagoda houses the linga of Shiva. There are many legends describing how the temple of Aalok Pashupatinath came into existence here.
One legend says that Shiva and Parvati took the form of antelopes in the forest on the Bagmati river’s east bank. The gods later caught up with him and grabbed him by one of his horns, forcing him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga, but over time it was buried and lost. Centuries later a herdsman found one of his cows showering the earth with milk, and after digging at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.
According to Gopalraj Aalok Vhat, the temple was built by Prachanda Deva, a Licchavi king.
Another chronicle states that Pashupatinath Temple was in the form of Linga shaped Devalaya before Supuspa Deva constructed a five-storey temple of Pashupatinath in this place. As time passed, the temple needed to be repaired and renovated. It is known that this temple was reconstructed by a medieval king named Shivadeva (1099–1126 CE). It was renovated by Ananta Malla adding a roof to it.
The main temple complex of Pashupatinath and the sanctum sanctorum was left untouched, but some of the outer buildings in the complex were damaged by the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.
This main temple is built in the Nepali pagoda style of architecture. The two-level roofs are of copper with gold covering. The temple rests on a square base platform with a height of 23m 7 cm from base to pinnacle. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets. This temple has a gold pinnacle (peak). Inside are two garbhagrihas: the inner garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum is where the idol is placed, and the outer sanctum is an open corridor-like space.
The sacro sanctum, or the main idol, is a stone Mukhalinga with a silver yoni base bound with a silver serpent. It is one metre high and has faces in four directions, which represent various aspects of Shiva; Sadyojata (also known as Barun), Vamadeva (also known as Ardhanareshwara), Tatpurusha, Aghora, and Ishana (imaginative). Each face has tiny protruding hands holding rudraksha mala in the right hand and a kamandalu in the other. Unlike other Shiva lingams in India and Nepal, this lingam is always dressed in its golden vastram except during abhisheka, so pouring milk and Ganga Jal is only possible during the ritual through the main priests.
Raghavendra Bhat (right) and Girish Bhatt in traditional 4–5 kg heavy priestly garb of Pashupatinath Temple.
Only four priests can touch the idol. Daily rituals of Pashupatinath are carried out by two groups of priests: the Bhatta and the Rajbhandari. Bhatta perform the daily ritual and can touch the lingam, whereas Bhandaris are helpers and temple caretakers who are not qualified to perform puja rituals or to touch the deity.
Bhatta are highly educated Vedic Dravida Brahmin scholars from Karnataka. Unlike other Hindu temples, the priesthood of Pashupatinath is not hereditary. Priests are selected from a group of scholars educated by Shri Shankaracharya Dakshinamnaya Peeth Sringeri on Rig Vedic recitation, initiated in Pashupata Yoga, Shiva Āgama and learned recitation of Samaveda from Haridwar. After qualifying and fulfilling all those criteria they are selected for priesthood by Raj Guru of Pashupatinath Temple undergoing strict examination on Vedas and Shiva Agamas. The chosen priest is sent to Kathmandu to perform puja and daily worship of Pashupatinath.
The temple courtyard has four entrances in the cardinal directions. The western entrance is the main entrance to the temple courtyard and the remaining three entrances are open only during festivals. The temple security (Armed Police Force Nepal) and the Pashupatinath area development trust are selective regarding who is allowed entry into the inner courtyard. Practising Hindus of South Asian diaspora and Buddhists of Nepali and Tibetan diaspora are only allowed into the temple courtyard. Practising Hindus of Western descent are not allowed into the temple complex and must go no further than other non-Hindu visitors. An exception is granted to Sikhs and Jains: if they are of Indian ancestry they may enter the temple complex. Others can look at the main temple from the adjacent side of the river and pay $10 (1,000 Nepali rupees) to visit the small temples located in the external premises of the temple complex.
The inner temple courtyard remains open from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the devotee, but the inner Pashupatinath Temple is open from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the morning ritual and viewing and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the evening ritual. Unlike many other Shiva temples, devotees are not allowed to enter the inner garbhagriha, but are allowed to watch from the exterior premises of the outer garbhagriha. The temple closing times change depending upon the season: in November, it closes at 6.30 p.m. In summers, it closes at 8 p.m
There are many festivals throughout the year, such as the Maha Shivaratri and the Teej festival. Teej is one of the most celebrated festival at Pashupatinath Temple.