Pashupatinath temple is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams on the continent.The temple serves as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath.This temple complex is on UNESCO World Heritage Sites' list Since 1979.
The temple was erected anew in the 15th century by Lichhavi King Shupuspa after the previous building was consumed by termites. Over time, countless further temples have been erected around this two -storied temple. These include the Vaishnava temple complex with a Ram temple from the 14th century and the Guhyeshwari Temple mentioned in an 11th-century manuscript.
The area of Pashupatinath encompasses 264 hectares of land including 518 temples and monuments.Main pagoda style temple is located in the fortified courtyard within the complex guarded by Semi-Military Nepal Police and Military Force Nepal Army and has a police outpost post along with living quarter within. In front of the western door, there is a huge statue Nandi bull, in bronze. Along with many temples and shrines of both Vaishnav and saiva tradition.
Main temple architecture
This main temple is built in the Nepalese pagoda style of architecture. All the features of pagoda style are founded here like cubic constructions, beautifully carved wooden rafters on which they rest . The two level roofs are of copper with gold covering. The temple resides on a square base platform with a height of 23m 7 cm from base to pinnacle. It has four main doors, all covered with silver sheets. This temple has a gold pinnacle .Inside are two Garbhagrihas, outer and inner .The inner garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum is where the idol is placed and outer sanctum is an open corridor like space.
The sacro sanctum or the main idol is a stone Mukhalinga with a silver yoni base bound with the silver serpent .The lingam is one metre high and has faced in four directions .These faces represent various aspects of Shiva; Sadyojata , Vamdeva , Tatpurusha, Aghor & Ishana .Facing West, North, East, South and Zenith respectively representing five primary elements namely earth, water, air, light and either. Each face has tiny protruding hands holding rudraksha mala on the right hand and a kamandalu on the other.Unlike other shiva lingams in India and Nepal this Pashupati shiva lingam is always Dressed in its golden vastra except during abhishakam, so pouring milk and Ganga Jal is only possible during abhishakam through the main priests.
Pashupatinath Temple Nepal
The Cow Legend
Legend says that Lord Shiva once took the form of an antelope and sported unknown in the forest on Bagmati river's east bank. The gods later caught up with him, and grabbing him by the horn, forced him to resume his divine form. The broken horn was worshipped as a linga but over time it was buried and lost. Centuries later astonished herdsmen found one of his cows showering the earth with milk. Digging deep at the site, he discovered the divine linga of Pashupatinath.
The Linchchhavi Legend
According to Gopalraj Vamsavali, the oldest ever chronicle in Nepal, this temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who according to the stone inscription erected by Jayadeva 11 in the courtyard of Pashupatinath in 753 AD, happened to be the ruler 39 generations before Manadeva .
The Devalaya Legend
Another chronicle states that Pashupatinath Temple was in the form of Linga shaped Devalaya before Supus Padeva constructed a five storey temple of Pashupatinath in this place. As the time passed, the need for repairing and renovating this temple arose. It is learnt that this temple was reconstructed by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva . It was renovated by Ananta Malla adding a roof to it.
Finding of Shiva Linga at Pashupatinath Temple It is said that the wish-fulfilling cow Kamadhenu took shelter in a cave on the Chandravan mountain. Everyday Kamadhenu went down to the place the lingam was sunken into the soil and poured her milk on top of the soil. After a few thousand years some people saw Kamadhenu pouring milk on that same spot every day, and started to wonder what that would be. So they removed the soil and found the beautiful shining lingam and started worshiping it.