Pashupatinath is the holiest and most famous of all Nepal’s Hindu shrines. Perched on the banks of the Bagmati, at Deoptan, Pashupatinath is reserved exclusively for Hindu worshipers. A series of terraces on the opposite bank – thickly populated with hundreds of rhesus monkeys, regarded by Hindu believers as kin of the gods, sun, and stars- provides the best view of the pagoda’s gilded copper roof, sadly surrounded by tatty, corroded tin roofs and higgledy-piggledy power lines.
There was a temple here as early as the first century AD; a settlement here in the third century BC may well have been the valley’s first.
sadhus, dressed in loincloths and marked with cinder ash, looking immensely wise- but still wanting cash for picture sessions-sit cross-legged everywhere meditating, surrounded by the temple’s delicate gold and silver filigree work.
In the age of mythology Lord Shiva and his consort lived here by this tributary of the holy Ganges, making it, by the reckoning of some, a more sacred place of pilgrimage even than Varanasi on the Ganges.
For the visitor, the most astonishing thing about almost any Hindu shrine is its shabbiness. It’s best to bear in mind that after centuries of use these are not historic monuments or museums but living places of worship, in many cases sadly in need of immediate renovation to preserve their glories. Pashupatinath is no exception, Much of the exterior is close to collapse, stained with the patina of centuries and with litter lying everywhere.