Great Himalayan Drive Day 15: The famous Shivratri at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu in Nepal

The famous Shivratri at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu in Nepal

The Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is generally regarded by Hindus as the most sacred of all temples devoted to Lord Shiva. Thousands of devotees visit the site every day from Nepal, India and other parts of the world. And on a special day like Shivratri, it is a sight to behold.

I was lucky to be in Kathmandu when this festival happened in 2010. And earlier commentators were not wrong when they listed it as a must-attend event. Literally a sea of devotees (over 600,000) started streaming in from the day before. Add to it hundreds of stalls selling items of worship and other shopping, food stalls, live devotional songs and performances and bright lighting and you have a perfect carnival environment.

And kudos to the local administration for their organizational skills. Proper barricading to manage people and vehicle traffic meant no stampedes. Filtered water and fist aid was provided to all at no cost. Donors had set up stalls to give free food to all those who wanted it – and again, queues for the same were well managed. Mobile and permanent toilets, all functioning, impressed too.

Adding colour to all this, as is common at all major Hindu congregations, was the presence of ‘holy men and women.’ They come from all over to offer their own brand of homage to the Gods. While some truly come for the faith they believe in, many seem to be just ‘frauds.’ Their job seems to be entertain the crowd with their antics, often dressing in revealing outfits, indulging in vulgar acts, spewing abusive language, drinking, getting high on drugs and collecting money from passers-by. Including from photographers like me. They even sell marijuana sticks for Rs. 10 each as a ‘prasad’ or offering to Lord Shiva.

It is all a part of the package and no one grudges them; in fact, most devotees still give them the respect reserved for true custodians of the faith. This year their number was down though by 20 percent from 3,700 the previous year; many were in Haridwar in India for the once-in-12-years Mahakumbh Mela. The Government had budgeted for Rs. 1.3 million to be spent on their food and shelter.

You may want to check out, a site launched in 2010.

The next time you plan a trip to Kathmandu, try going on Shivratri. Being a part of the crowds may be worth the experience. You may view more pictures on Facebook even if you are not a member.



  1. I extend thanks that you have released this energetic expression about The lord Pashupatinath and Shivaratri. I support your opinion.
    Now, I am sending some points about Pashupatinath and I hope you will utilize for your best.
    The Lord Pashupathinath, Shoyambhunath,Lumbini, Barahachetra, Gosaikunda, Muktinath, Ridi, Janakidham, Devghat of Nepal, Kailash Mansharobar of Tibet (well accessed for Hindus and Buddhas), and Tirupati, Rameshroram, Jagannath, Badrinath, Amarnath of India are the symbolic shrines of Hinduism & Buddhism. Hindu philosophy and its culture and tradition are the founder of world civilization. Hindu shrine Pashupatinath (Shiva) is the Lord of all Hindus. According to Hindu mythology, Shiva is worshipped as protector of all animals, including humans.
    The Lord Pashupatinath Temple sits on a sacred river on the edge of Bagmati, Kathmandu Nepal. The complex rises up from the bank amid a mass of pagoda-style buildings. The temple moves to ancient rhythms. And one of its many traditions has been to recruit its priests from Brahmins from far-away south India. But, for the first time, the south Indians have been replaced by local, Nepali Maoist priests. It used to be that the temple authorities would appoint its priests in conjunction with the king- and he was always happy to maintain the link with south India. The fiercely secular communists would have few qualms about dispensing with the services of the south Indian Brahmins.

    Nepalese Maoists have tried to destroy the identity of Pashupatinath, Living Goddess Kumari, Bikram Sambat and its calendar and every norm of Hindus. In 2008, the Maoists have appointed their own people. We Nepalese people are worried that Pashupati complex is being used as a playground for politics.The Bhandaris are the traditional temple caretakers, including Nepalese nationalists the Bhandaris also protested against the decision of Maosts. The temple decision has led to demonstrations by Hindu groups. Nepal’s Supreme Court directed the temple authorities to clarify the controversy and not to let the newly appointed Nepali priests perform the rituals. The Supreme Court has ordered the trust to allow the three Indian priests to carry on with the rituals till its verdict.Traditionally; the temple authorities would appoint its priests in conjunction with the king.
    King Gyanendra said to keep the hallowed Hindu shrine of Pashupatinath out of dispute and not to tarnish the image of Nepal as a country where different religions had co-existed in harmony down the ages’. So, the Pashupati temple should not be the place for the party’s decision. Almost in 1343 AD in the regime of Licchabi, Muslim ruler Samsuddin, who hailed from Bengal (India) attacked Kathmandu and attacked Pashupatinath temple. After 665 years, more than a hundred Maoists and cadres of YCL (agnostic) broke the lock of the Pashupatinath’s main shrine and took the newly appointed priest. It was a matter of regret.

    Now, since Sep.1st 2009 two priests have beaten by Maoists into the compound of Pashupatinath. The priests were badly injured. Since 300 hundred years, the priests are devoting in Pashupatinath as a pure Hindu but not as Indian. The tradition has been already establishing. Then, who can ovoid the cultural traditions? Cultural traditions can’t change by the political Party and constitution. But, now, it is a simple thing for Maoists to beat and thrash. A group of Maoists are active to disturb and abolish the Hindus cultural assets. The priest- Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta, are not the problem, but that is the issues of abolishing the Hindu Monarch & Hindu Kingdom from Nepal. Hindus & Buddhists are feeling, without Nepalese monarchy, the culture and Dams, Temples of Nepal and India can’t save.
    Yes, if Bhatta had voluntarily resigned new priests could be appointed with the reason there of citing the prevalent law regarding the worship and management of Pashupatinath. Since legendary period Newar Rajopadhya could also be appointed as Bhatta (priest) . Rajopadhya should be traced from Bangemuda (kathmandu) & Banepa ( Kabre) In 1746 AD Pratap Malla the King of Kathmandu came in touch of Kartatac King and appointed Gyanananda & Lambakarna as priests of Pashupatinath. They were tantrik (having mystic power). Till now, there are four Bhatta priests & 106 Newars as Bhandaris (store keepers & protectors) Bhandaris are chronologically important. Only those born in Devpatan, the Pashupati area are entitled for worshiping lord Pashupatinath. Bhandaris are the owners of their houses.

    The area of Pashupatinath imcompasses 264 hectre of land including 518 temples and monuments. We want to protrect and safeguard the heritage. The Rajbhandaris must be reinstated. The decion done by Maoist must be scraped out. Maoist followed the villainous part as played by Samasuddin from Bangal having a force of thirty one thousand Muslims plundering and vandaling the faith and trust of Hindu & Buddhist in Bikram Era 1400. The last Licchivi regime was very weak. There was a great chaos after the Muslims attack. To save the regime from such a dreadful situation Jayasthiti Malla, the Ksha King having cooperation and assistance from kings of Palpa, Kaski, Gorkha and Lamjung, attacked vigorously on Muslim army. Thirty thousand and four hundred soldiers were killed and almost six hundred fled away. It is carved and can be seen in Bhatapur Taleju temple. Then, Jayasthiti Malla ascended the throne of Kathmandu and reconstructed the temple and constructed the Rama temple across the Bagmati river and established Kumbheshwar Mahadev and performed Kotihom ( oblation for one Crore over the sacred fire) He laid the strict rule regarding the entrance for the Hindus & Buddhists only. This is inviolable. But, now the Bagmati River is dirty and can be smelled well before it comes into sight. So, at any rate, it should be non-dirty.

    King Jyotirmalla writes in stone lablets- ‘about Pashupatinath in 1465 Bs, lord Pashupatinath having five mouth along with worshipable Bashuki the holy serpent. King Pratap Malla was famous in stone tablets. Prithvinarayan shah the great, worshipped lord Pashupatinath duing his integration of Kingdom. It is stated in Lingua Bambshabali. Prithbinarayan Shah had got carved in Basantapur Place in 1826 Bs after his Victory over Kathmandu valley-‘ lord Pashupatinath & Goddess Guheshwari may bless Nepal for keeping sovereignty and stability along with Shah popular Regime. Royal seals were attached regarding the worship of Lord Pashupatinath by King Ranabahadur Shah, King Mahendra, King Birendra and King Gyanendra as well. Since 1979 Unesco has kept this core area as a world heritage. It encompasses four hector of land as a very sensitive area. Let this government be away from imposing political interference over Hindus & Buddhists. The decision done in contravention of all the rules & the regulations regarding the Pashupatinath worship is scraped immediately. So, this is the high time to be conscious & united on the part of Hindus, Buddhists in all over the world as well as all patriotic Nepali.
    Thank you.
    Dirgha Raj Prasai
    Former Member of Parliament,Nepal.
    Cultural Analyst.


    • LOL.. the request has come a bit late in the day. But I might go to Mahakumbh again before it ends. If you are serious, I will get some. 😉 Last time I got a lot of bhaang on requests from friends and no one came to pick it up – but I don’t think there will be a problem finding takers for marijuana :) All ye naughty people…


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