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Pashupatinath, a sacred Hindu temple located on the banks of the holy waters of the Bagmati river is the largest temple complex in Nepal. It serves the Hindu god of destruction Shiva, also referred to as Pashupatinath.
The exact date of the construction of the site is uncertain, however, the earliest evidence of the temple's existence stretches back to 400 A.D. The temple was later renovated by the Malla kings and the present form of the main temple was built in the end of the 17th century that was said to have been destroyed by the termites.
In light of the multitudinous renovations of Pashupatinath throughout the past few centuries, the structure of the temples in the area (around 492 temples), dedicated to several Hindu and Buddhist deities, have diverse architectural styles.
Western Entrance of Pashupatinath Temple, Main Gate (Wikimedia commons)
The main temple of Pashupatinath stands in the middle of an open courtyard and is built in the Pagoda style that features cubic constructions, a gilded roof and exquisite wood carvings on rafters (also called Tundal). It has four main doors covered with silver sheets and a gold pinnacle (Gajur).
There are two Garbhagrihas inside the shrine, the sanctum sanctorum serves as the throne to the idol while the outer sanctum is an open-corridor-like space to worship from.
Lord Shiva's vehicle, or vahana, Nandi's golden statue sits facing the main shrine. A Shiva lingam is established in the inner sanctum and there are hundreds of Shiva lingams within the compound.
Only Hindus are allowed through the gates of the main temple.
Crematory rites being performed at Aryaghat (Unsplash)
As Shiva, in Hindu mythology signifies the end or the destruction for re-creation, the site is also largely considered for cremation. Along the rivers of Bagmati, on raised platforms, Aryaghat, the crematorium, witnesses hundreds of funerary rites and mournings every day. It is a belief that those cremated at Pashupatinath surely reborn as a human as their sins wash away with the burnt ashes that the holy water carries away.
Dome-styled temples as well as Shikara styled temples spread throughout the banks of Bagmati in the Pashupatinath area. The majority of these religious structures are small single-story buildings made from stone. However, they are sacral constructions and sanctuaries great religious values.