Nepal is a secular country. However, Hinduism is the main religion of the Nepalese people. The trinity of Hinduism- Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva – and the pantheon of numerous other Hindu gods and goddesses are devotedly worshipped in Nepal. The female consorts of these gods are equally venerated here as the manifestation of “Shkati” (Power or Cosmic Energy). The goddesses are worshipped in different forms, such s Nav Durgas (Nine Durgas), Asta Matrikas (Eight Mother Goddesses) and Stupa Matrikas (Seven Mother Goddesses).
Here we are going to write a short description about the most famous six Holy Sites and Pilgrimage Destination of Kathmandu.
1) Pashupatinath Temple:
Nepal has numerous pilgrimage sites, sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. To the Hindus, the most famous and most venerated is the temple of Lord Pashupatinath, situated on the banks of the holy river Bagmati in Kathmandu. It is among the most revered shrines for Hindus all over the world. The main temples, which stands in the middle of a courtyard, are two tiered, built upon a square plinth, and is 23.6 meters high. The four large gates of the temple are silver and gilt-plated and richly carved images of various Hindu gods and goddesses. The secret sanctum, or the main idol of “Mukhalingam”. Is one meter high and has faces carved in four directions. The original temple is said to have been built at the beginning of the Christian era. It is said to have undergone several reconstructions over the ages to what stands today.
2) Changu Naryan Temple:
The site of the Changu Narayan is revered as a sacred location dating back to the Lichchhavi period and is believed to be one of the valley’s earliest settlement sites. It is situated on a small hillock northwest of Bhaktapur. Revered by both Hindus and Buddhists, Changu Naryan has been among the most venerated sites for worshippers of Lord Vishnu since early times, and hence it is a very important pilgrimage site for the Vaishnavas. The main pagoda-style temple is located at the center of a large courtyard, which is surrounded by rest houses known as Chaughera Sattal. In addition to the main two-storey temple, the Changu Narayan monument zone includes several smaller shrines including the temple of Chhinna Mastaa, the headless goddess. The site is renowned for the masterpieces in stone and metal sculpture dating back to different periods of history. Examples of such masterpieces in stone sculptures are the Vishwarup of Lord Vishnu circa 8th century, and the fearful figure of Narasimha Avatar, or half lion-half human figure of Lord Vishnu, which dates back to the 9th century.
3) Swayambhu Nath Stupa:
On of the origin of Swayambhu Nath Stupa, popular legend narrates how the valley was once a huge lake- a lake of idyllic beauty surrounded by green pristine forests. This lake was known as Naag Hrad, or the Adobe of the Serpent God. In this lake, Bipasvi Buddha came to take a holy dip. He then cast some lotus seeds into the lake, which eventually bloomed into a thousand petal lotus over which appeared a brilliant, radiant flame, the beacon (Joyti) that self-originated, which is the Swayambhu Joyti-rupa (the beacon). Around the circular base- the garva (womb) – are installed the five celestial Buddhas with their respective female counterparts. In the vicinity are numerous monuments. These include the twin Shikhar style temples of Pratapur and Annatapur built by King Pratap Malla; Baspur, with the image of Goddess Basundhara, the best tower of prosperity; Vayupur, the god of wind; and the artistic golden temple of the Goddess Ajima of Harati, the protector of children.
4) Baudhantah Stupa:
The Great Stupa of Baudhanath is the principal center of Tibetan Buddhist worship in the Kathmandu Valley. It has long been a major destination for pilgrims from the Himalayas, Tibet and Southeast and east Asia. It is one of the largest and most magnificent Buddhist monuments in the world. Lichchhavie King Mandeva I is credited to have built this great stupa.
5) Nyatpola & Bhairav Temple, Bhaktapur:
According to popular legend, King Bhupatindra Mall built a three-storeyed temple of Bhairav to protect the city of Bhaktapur from evil spirits. But Bhairav, because of his boisterous nature, proved troublesome, and the king was advised by his astrologers that only, the installation of Tantraic goddess who was more powerful than Bhairav could curb his unruly behavior. The king then built the five-stoyered temple and installed there in the most powerful goddess, Siddhi Laxmi to subdue Bahirav. This magnificent temple later became famous as the Nyatapola, and is today the landmark of the Bhaktapur city.
6) Kumari, the Living Goddess:
The myths and legends surrounding the Kumari, the Living Goddess of Kathmandu, is fascinating. Historical records show that the worship of Kumari as a living goddess has been prevalent since at least the 10th century. But popular folklore relating to the Kumari as the incarnation of Taleju Bhavani, the patron deity of the royals, and king conversing and playing dice with her linked to certain kings who ruled Kathmandu, like Trailokya Malla (16th century) and the last Mall ruler of Kathmandu, Jaya Prakash Malla (18th century). According to the legend, it so happened that one night while playing dice with Goddess Taleju, or Kumari the king was aroused by her celestial beauty and was overcome with lust. The Kumari, a goddess as she was, at once visualized the amorous thoughts in the king’s mind. Showing her utter displeasure, she declared that she would henceforth never come to him and disappeared. The king was filled with profound remorse and begged for forgiveness. The Goddess later relented and said that she would enter the body of a virgin girl, a Kumari, which the king was to worship.