Over the past week I have walked and explored much of Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal religiously is about 80% Hindu, and 15% Buddhist. If you were to walk in Kathmandu you could probably find a Buddhist or Hindu temple about every 50 meters. The colors and architecture make it easy for anybody to take amazing pictures. For the most part the Nepalese people are very friendly and sincere. I am visiting in the low season for tourists, so the revenues are down and some vendors and service industry staff seem a bit desperate at times. Its important to have a strong enough personality to tell them “No thank you”, and progressively more firm from there.
I have posted most of my pics on FB from Nepal thus far. In this post I am mainly going to try to describe my visits to the Pashupati temple, as there are so many places to describe and this place had a lot of interesting things going on.
Hinduism has three “Main Gods” 1. Brahma “Creator” 2. Vishnu “preserver” 3. Shiva “destroyer” The Pashupatinath temple is a temple of Shiva the god of destruction. The Hindus believe that part of Shiva’s horn is burried below a linga at this site, which makes this one of the largest and most important Hindu sites for Shiva in the world. Upon arriving at this site you will enter from the west, in a cluster of temples and onto a bridge that crosses the Bagmati river. This river is nearly dried up, however what little remains looks to be extremely polluted and littered. On the banks of the river, within the temple walls the Hindu’s perform cremation on the bodies of the dead.
Families wash themselves with holy water from the river and chant and praise to their passed loved ones during the cremation process. Once the bodies turn to mostly ash you can see the crematory push the remanents into the river with large sticks.
On the Eastern side of the river, within the temples compound are more shrines and sub-temples with images of Shiva and sub deities. This place had monkeys running all over the place. Worshippers would spread rice and other edible items in front of the shrines, as soon as they walked away the monkeys would be there to eat the offerings. Of course to Hindus the cow is sacred, and the Bull is a symbol of their god Shiva so within the walls there were bulls running wild as well.
Around the back side of the temple there is an overhang where about 15-20 Shaivite Sadhus (disciples of Shiva the God)
rest and mostly just hang out. Shaivites are considered holy men in the hindu religion. They pretty much give up all of the luxuries in life to worship Shiva. The Shaivites of this temple live all together under this area with an overhang. I am told that to get money for food or Chara (hash)
the worshippers that come to the temple donate money to them in exchange for blessings. The Shaivites will place a mark on the worshippers forehead symbolizing that they have been blessed. Keep in mind there are head priests that run the temple, the Shaivite Sadhus
have no responsibility as far as the order of the temple. I have visited this place twice, and each time the Shaivites were smoking hash, and looked as high as can be. There were police and Nepalese army within the temple, but apparently the holy men are an exception to the rule, they smoke all day long and are exempt due to this being ritualistic. All of the Shaivites were middle-aged or even old. I asked locals if the younger generation is interested in being Sadhus and was told “no”, Hinduism is shrinking in Nepal and the holy man is no longer an esteemed role. My cab driver told me that two types of people become Sadhu 1.The extemely devout hindu’s 2. The Laziest of Lazies. This was no surprise to me. It makes perfect sense.
My first visit to this place was late in the evening and my battery was dead on my camera. I must say that it was one of the most strange and mystical places I have been. From the monkeys and bulls, to the strange yet beautiful architecture, to the smoking silly sadhu’s. I had to come back to get more pictures, as I am certain I will never see another place quite like this again.