Coming from a long travel around India, Kathmandu looks an idyllic place. Nepalese do not ask you so many questions about your family or your university qualification, or if you are married, as the Indians use to do.
I would spend no less than a week in Kathmandu. I found an excellent hostel at a fair price in Thamel area.
One of the excursions that I made on a hired bicycle based on Kathmandu was to the Valley. Every day I used to explore a new place, such as Patan (the old capital), Bhadgaon, Bodhnath, plus Kirtipur and the Monastery of Kopan, where I expected to find the Spanish boy (born in Granada, Spain) Osel Hita, supposed to be the reincarnation of the Lama Yeshe. But he had recently moved to Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh, India) and could not see him.
The excursion that impressed me more was the one that I made to the holy Pashupatinath, the Nepali Benares. I saw how they burned the dead. It was a tragic vision.
Lord shiva is also called Pashupathinath . This is an important temple for the Hindus. The temple is beautiful. It is located on the banks of the river Bhagmathi. Non Hindus are n to allowed inside the temple. However they can go to view the river and the cremation rituals that are followed on the banks of the river. Every evening at 6.30 there is an aarathi that takes place on the banks of the river. It is a spectacular sight to behold. There is music, chanting and an elaborate offering of incense, lights and camphor to Lord Shiva. You can view it standing on the bridge.
Non Nepalis and non Indians are required to pay a sum of 1000 Nepali rupees to enter this space.
Pashupatinath is a very beautiful temple, located in the centre of the town of Deopatan, only 5 km from the centre of Kathmandu. It is a shrine of supreme importance to Hindis and attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. The temples are not open to non Hindi visitors, but much of the site can be viewed clearly from the footbridge over the river, and from the opposite side of the Bagmati river.
The significance of this site comes in no small part from the fact that the Bagmati River is is a tributary of the Ganges, and therefore is considered sacred. On the riverbank to one side of the main bridge, you can see a series of cremation platforms: there are sepatate platforms reserved for royalty, and the others are nobility and the general public.
On the day I visited, a cremation had taken place just before I took this photograph. The family withdrew after the cremation and changed into the white clothing of mourning. It was a remarkable sight, watched by many local people from the bridge and from the riverbank. All the ashes blow off the bank into the river. You may just be able to see in the picture a couple of scavengers who apparently scrape a meagre existence from picking up small personal items that have not burned.
You can find out everything you might wish to know about this fantastic temple from its own website below. There is a small entrance fee to enter the site, payable at the carpark at the entrance.
I learned much during my few hours in Pashupatinath, mainly thanks to a guide who had noone else to talk to so early in the morning. I did warn him that it was the last day of my trip and I only had the money I needed to get back to Kathmandu. Anyway he followed me and gave me explanations of what I was looking at.
Looking from the bridge on the other side from the cremation platforms, you see the east entrance to the temple: the entrance that gives access directly to the river. The large white building you see in my photo is what could be termed, in western parlance, a hospice.
The Hindi faithful bring their dying family members here to pass their final weeks, days or hours in the holy place. They are cared for by their families. Even royalty comes here. Once someone has passed from this life their cremation can take place quickly in the holiest of sites in Nepal.
Among the many holy people who make up the temple community are seers, the 'ghate vaidaya', who are skilled in predicting the moment of death by feeling the pulse rate. Using these skills, it is the ultimate hope of believers that they can leave their mortal form in a sacred place with hymns of praise around them.
When you arrive at the Pashupatinath site, before clapping eyes on a temple, you will need to negotiate a walk down a narrow street with street sellers trying hard to attract your attention with a range of goods. The street is also lined with people selling at stalls, and these stalls create a most wondefully colourful display: they put western candles to shame.
In the photo you see one of many vendors selling coloured powders which are used as part of offerings at various shrines. All round Kathmandu in fact you will find little shrines with offerings of rice and flowers, and also, frequently these brightly coloured powders. As you can see, you can also buy a small pot to hold your powder in.
There is no doubting the justice in establishing Patupashinath as a World Heritage Centre. Visitors who may be disappointed at not being able to enter the holy shrine, should rest assured... there are many other temples in the immediate vicinity that can be visited by people of all, or no belief.
This photograph is one of my favourites of all time... and certianly made the early rise worth all the effort. It is taken from the knoll across the bridge from Pashupatinath, and shows the pathway that climbs the knoll past temples and shrines a-plenty.
From this, the west side of the river, you will also have wonderful panoramas over the whole temple complex, and be able to appreciate fully the size, beauty and bustle of it.
I have nowhere near enough space here to tell you what delights await you in this area, but please take a moment to visit the website below, which gives you a better overview than I could ever hope to.
An important Hindu temple to Shiva is in this area. Here you will see monkeys, cremations, sadhus (beware of imposers who are after tourists money!) etc.
It is a huge complex and worth wondering around for a while. It is also here, on the banks of the Bagmati river where cremations take place. The ghats are clearly visible with huge burning fires.
Across the river, there are 11 stone ‘stupas’. There are two foot bridges crossing the river. You have good views of the temples and the ghats from this side.
Entrance fee of NRs 50
Along the shores of the Bagmati river near the temple of Pashupatinath lies "Arya Ghat", the most widely used place of cremation for the deceased in Nepal, especially in and around the Kathmandu valley. Just outside the temple is the Royal Ghat, where the Royal Family were cremated after the massacre several years ago and where important people and dignitaries are cremated.
During the cremation process, the eldest son shaves his head and wears a white cloth. The body is wrapped in yellow cloth and lowered to the river to be annointed with water. Then the body is walked 3 times aroudn the pyre and then laid on it. The pyre is lit by the head and the body covered with wood and straw. You can't actually see the body being burnt (nor would you want to ). Eventually the ashes are swept into the river. Poor people and small boys scour the river for belongings such as gold fillings etc.
Its is a moving process to watch, mainly because western society tries to deny the existance of death, whereas in the Hindu culture it is a fact of life. It was quite upsetting to hear people grieving but it did seem a very dignified way to send off a relative.
Pashupatinath temple is a Hindu temple located on the shore of the Bagmati river on the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
It is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva in the world. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, particularly from Nepal and India pay homage to this temple everyday. .
Locals have long regarded Pashupatinath temple as a very important part of the city, both religiously and culturally. Thousands of locals begin their day by visiting the temple and receiving blessings from lord Shiva early in the morning.
Along the shores of the Bagmati river near the temple lies "Arya Ghat", the most widely used place of cremation for the deceased in Nepal, especially in and around the Kathmandu valley. Just outside the temple is the Royal Ghat, where thr Royal Family were cremated after the massacre several yeas ago and where important people and dignitaries are cremated.
The temple is of pagoda architecture. The two level roofs are of copper with gold covering. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets. The western door has a statue of large bull or Nandi, again covered in gold. The idol is of black stone, about 6 ft in height and about 6ft circumference. Only Hindus are allowed inside.
On the opposite side of the river are small temples with the traditional lingham statues inside. Mant Sadhus or Holy men frequent the site and will chat to you and let you take a photograph withthem for a small fee.
Its a fascinating place to people watch but be respectful to the religion and of peoples grief.
Another Not To Be Missed place in the Kathmandu Valley is Pashupatinath
These are the Burning Ghats, Only a couple of kilometres from Bodhnath and the two can easily be combined together to make a Great day trip from Kathmandu,
Unfortunately there is an entrance fee, But If you like to explore and have time it is still possible to get in through the back and avoid the payment – again, Not that I object to paying an entry fee, Just in Nepal I Do wonder where the money ends up !!
The photo here was taken from the river bank without paying the entry fee !!
Pashupatinath on the banks of the Bagmati holy river is the Nepali equivalent of the Varanassi in India – a pilgrimage centre for ritual baths and a popular place to be cremated, in preparation for the next incarnation.
Hence, many temples, shikharas, shrines and ghats for the ritual bathing and cremation have been constructed along the centuries and, although most of them date back from earlier periods, the monuments you will see are the result of the renovation works in the 17th and 19th centuries. Among them, the Pashupathi Temple, boasting the largest and most extended precinct of a Hindu temple in the whole Kathmandu Valley.
Unlike Varanassi in India, the local customs in Pashupatinath on taking photos are more relaxed….for the time being at least.
For more info and pics, visit my Pashupatinath
Pashupatinath is the place of the most important Hindu Temple in nepal. Situated on the bank of the Bagmati River it is the place for cremations along the Ghats. Just like in Varanasi the ashes will be put into the Bagmati, which finally leads into the Ganges.
Pashupatinath is a very hectic place with many pilgrims, sadhus, ongoing cremations and tourist touts.
From the opposite side you can follow the rituals with the necessary distance and respect, along the huge number of temples and shrines.
Shiva Ratri is the festival of Shiva's Night, a Sadhu and Hindu festival of the outlandish and divine. We took a taxi to the festival and the sights and sounds were mind blowing. saints, sadhus and mystics filled the grounds. It was like being transported to another mystical world. I had never seen anything even close to the visions I was seeing. There were groups and groups of long bearded, dreadlocked Sadhus huddled in mass, smoking pot with eyes glazed over and a mysterious look about them. They say that thousands of pilgrims come to the sacred festival, like a Hindu version of Mecca. As we walked the steps, these mystical men would just look at us with half open eyes, not really in the world. We later found out that Sadhus and infants are the only Hindus that don't get cremated, they get buried, because they have already left this world.
Located on the Bagmati river, the holy river in Nepal, Pashupatinah is the most important temple for Hindus, dedicated to Shiva the destroyer.
On the banks of the river are raised platforms used as cremation sites.
Pashupatinah is one of the seven world heritage sites all over the Kathmandu valley.
At the temple of Pashupatinath it is a holy place for cremations. The entire ritual can be seen when you go and sit across the river.
There are many rituals during a cremation, but there also is a large difference between the castes. When you are from a lower cast it is all done at a very basic way. The higher castes add things like red dye and flowers. At the end all bodies end up in the Baghmati River. The Baghmati feeds into the Ganges, which spills out into the Indian Ocean.
The cremation is a mens job women stay out.