A lone monkey watches over the Pashupatinath Temple Complex in the Kathmandu Valley. Hindus from all over the world come to this shrine to worship Shiva © YURY TARANIK
Shiva is the killer and the builder, marking both the end of the old and the beginning of the reborn. He appears as Bhairav “The Brutal,” Mahadeva “The Great God,” and Pashupati “King of the Monsters,” among his many other guises. Shiva is typically shown as a fair-skinned guy with five appearances, four limbs, three eyes, and a blue esophagus. He frequently carries a trisula (spears) and a damura (drum) as a representation of his triple nature as a maker, guardian, and killer. His mode of transportation, the bull Nandi, is a proverbial representation of fertility. He is the kindest and most majestic deity in the canyon, along with his elephant-headed offspring Ganesh.
Shiva is occasionally portrayed as an austere religious figure, and during the months of February and March, many of his sadhus (holy men) flock to Pashupatinath to commemorate his birthdate. Shivaratri is one of the most important Hindu celebrations in the region, drawing tens of thousands of people to what is known as one of the Paadal Petra Sthalams, or holy dwellings of Shiva, in South Asia.
A water fountain carved in stone. The Pashupatinath Complex sustained considerable damage during the devastating 2015 earthquake that struck Nepal. Fortunately, the main temple stayed intact with only a few minor cracks © salajean
At Pashupatinath, Shiva is revered year-round as Lord Pashupati in the form of a lingam (phallus). Don’t be fooled by the curly-haired sadhus surrounding the monastery; while some are unquestionably real, many are imposters dressed up to profit from the constant stream of tourist photos.
The large temple complex is located nearby the airport, 5 kilometers (3 miles) east of Kathmandu’s downtown. It can be reached most easily by biking or taxicab. Between Pashupatinath and adjacent Boudhanath, one can also stroll through tranquil paths.
Non-Hindus are not permitted within the sacred sanctuary courtyard, but from the slope behind the courtyard, tourists can observe what is going on within. The balcony on the forested hillside across the canal offers the greatest vantage point for the entire compound. However, there had already been a building on this location for 300 years before the construction of the enormous, glittering, triple-roofed sanctuary. Dharmsalas (pilgrim resthouses) and cremation ghats, including one designated solely for royal families, border both sides of the Bagmati River. A funeral service is frequently in progress on one of the decks beside the river. Notwithstanding its dirty water and occasionally poor flows, the river is revered as holy because it empties into the holy Ganges. Visitors have the opportunity to see funeral services from above if they have the stamina for it, although generally speaking, filming is prohibited as a symbol of reverence.
Sadhu or holy men prepare themselves for their meditation session in Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu Valley. These are men who have renounced the earthly life for one of spirituality. They usually wear simple clothing and paint their faces © think4photop
Numerous spouses still take baths together in the river in the hope that doing so will result in their reunion in the afterlife, even though the practice of sati, in which ladies consumed themselves to death on their husbands’ memorial service, has been prohibited since the early 20th century. Additionally, the believers frequently bathe in the river as part of religious purification ceremonies. The three-day women’s festival of Teej, which takes place between August and September, is among the most colorful. Hundreds of ladies congregate at Pashupatinath, donning their brightest red and gold saris while smiling and chanting. The ghats are a combination of religious people washing and giggling kids playing irreverently in the water during other times of the year.
A sadhu Hanuman wise man or baba performs religious rituals at Pashupatinath Temple. Hanuman is the widely worshipped monkey deity and a central character in the Ramayana, the Sanskrit epic from ancient India © think4photop
Shiva’s golden sacred Nandi bull is seen from the back. It stands at Pashupatinath Temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The bull is the deity’s animal form, its main worshipper, and its means of transport © Kurkul
A holy man or sadhu with typical painted face and saffron garments © Pe3k
Sadhu holy men congregate on Pashupatinath Ghat where many cremations take place every day © think4photop
A Bhatta priest attend to the faithful who presents him with food. Bhatta is the priest who performs the daily rituals and who may touch the deity. This picture was taken at Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of the holy Bagmati River in the Kathmandu Valley © rweisswald
An old man in front of piles of wood used for cremation ceremonies at the Bhasmeshvar Ghat near Pashupatinath Temple © De Visu
A devotee performs her religious ritual at a temple in Kathmandu© danm12
A group of Hindu devotees during a religious ceremony in Pashupatinath Temple, the holiest place of worship for Hindus in all of Nepal © danm12
A yogi meditates next to a statue of Shiva during the annual Maha Shivaratri Festival in celebration of the deity in the Kathmandu Valley. It is a solemn festival marked by fasting, praying and meditating © Nitipol Temprim
A man prepares the wood for cremation at the so-called Burning Ghat at Pashupatinath Temple on the sacred Bagmati River © MOROZ NATALIYA
Smoke fills the air at the Burning Ghat at Pashupatinath Temple where cremation ceremonies are performed © Liudmila Kotvitckaia
A sadhu or holy man in traditional attire and heavily painted face pages through a picture book of Mount Everest at Pashupatinath Temple © dibrova
Preparations for a cremation ceremony at the Burning Ghat on the Bagmati River at Pashupatinath Temple. The river is considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists © saiko3p
A sadhu Hanuman baba with the painted face of a monkey to celebrate Hanuman, the Monkey Deity. Hanuman also plays a key role in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana © think4photop
Hindu women at the so-called Burning Ghat of holy River Bagmati pay their last respects to and mourn a deceased relative before the cremation ritual is performed © MoLarjung
The crematorium at the Arya Ghat is the largest cremation area in Nepal. The practice of cremation at Pashupathinath Temple dates back centuries © sergemi
Intricate erotic wood carvings in the centuries-old Pashupatinath Temple in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal © CRS PHOTO
A group of Hindu worshippers at Pashupatinath Temple, a large religious complex with hundreds of temples, ashrams, inscriptions and images © CRS PHOTO
A female Hindu pilgrim at Pashupatinath Temple on the Bagmati River. The complex was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979 © CRS PHOTO
A group of children pose in front of one of the numerous statues at Pashupatinath Temple, the oldest in the Kathmandu Valley © CRS PHOTO
A picture taken at Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most sacred and important Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world © CRS PHOTO
A woman performs her prayers at Pashupatinath Temple Complex. Pashupatinath is considered the protector of the universe and the patron deity of the Nepali people © RPBaiao
A sadhu or holy man with his traditional long beard and headdress doing yoga at Pashupatinath Temple © Nick Fox
Smoke rises from one of the many cremation platforms on the ghats of the holy Bagmati River at Pashupatinath Temple © In Green
Holy men in traditional attire and painted faces sit at a shrine at Pashupatinath Temple. Sadhu are religious ascetics who have traded the worldly life for one of meditation, and religious Hindu practices © Dr Ajay Kumar Sin
Close-up of the heavily painted face of an elderly sadhu. These holy men follow a life of spiritual discipline in search of enlightenment © OlegD
Mourners carry the body of their deceased friend and relative to the cremation site on the Bagmati River bank at Pashupatinath Temple. According to Hindu belief cremation is the quickest way to help liberate the soul © Street style photo
Two elderly holy men relax at a shrine in the Pashupatinath Temple Complex in the Kathmandu Valley © V. Smirnov
There are an abundance of monkeys living on the temple grounds of Pashupatinath. Hinduism has a long history with these animals due to the association with the monkey deity Hanuman © Skreidzeleu
A celebration with novice monks at Pashupatinath Temple. The complex consists of a large number of temples and shrines where many monks attend to rituals and ceremonies every day © topten22photo
A Hindu devotee decked in many strings of saffron flowers pray at a stone statue at Pashupatinath Temple © EASYWAY
Visitors walk past some of the numerous shrines in the Pashupatinath Temple Complex in the Kathmandu Valley © Sophie Lenoir
A touching scene of mourners with bowed heads walking around the body of their deceased relative and friend to pay their last respects before the cremation ceremony on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River at Pashupatinath Temple © MoLarjung
An elderly vendor sits among her saffron marigold garlands and other bouquets of flowers at the Pashupatinath Temple in the Kathmandu Valley © CRS PHOTO
Shrines line the walkway at the Pashupatinath Temple Complex. Many religious festivals take place at the temple every year, including the Maha Shiva Ratri and the Teej Festivals © Igor Chus