Pashupatinath and the Holy River Bagmati

The Bagmati River is a river of Nepal and India. It flows through the Kathmandu valley and is the river separating Kathmandu from Lalitpur. It is considered a holy river both by Hindus and Buddhists. A number of Hindu temples are located on the banks of this river. The importance of Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on the banks of this holy river, and Kirants are buried in the hills by its side. According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati river before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take a bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River is considered to purify the people spiritually. The best place to watch Pashupati is from the hill opposite Aryaghat. One can see the temple, the activities on the ghat, and the Panchaderal complex. Many trees on this hill are not indigenous, but have been imported from as far away as Argentina. Pines and monkey puzzle trees help make the area attractive. A short climb from here takes one to the courtyards of Viswarupa, Gorakhnath, Tribhuwan Parameswar, and old shrine of Kirateswar, a shrine of Gauri, and the Kailas area where many Shava lingas, some of them more than 1,400 years old, are scattered. From Kailas there are steps descending to the main entrance of Pashupati. A peep into the courtyard of Pashupati reveals an enormous gilded bell. The silver doors of the main temple shine brightly. As one of the oldest temples in Nepal, this is an open museum of sculptural art. The fifteenth-century image of Vishnu Vikrana here depicts the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu. A half-buried Buddha, a huge Shiva Linga placed on a monolithic pedestal, and sculptures of Yama, Saraswati, Umamaheswara, Ardha Savriswara (half Shiva and half Vishnu), and the Garuda Narayan are among the most outstanding stone sculptures in the area. The terra cotta Vishnu is an excellent eighteenth-century example of this art form. Other terra cotta pieces include two devotees worshipping a Shiva lingam. In the Deopatan area, the temple of Bhavareswari and the rest houses of Panchaderal complex have some of the best woodcarving preserved in the Valley.