Nepal is the seat of two ancient religions of Hinduism and Buddhism and therefore a great melting point for the two great cultures of India and China with whom it shares its borders. It is a deeply religious place boasting 2000 year old temples spread across the Kathmandu Valley in particular. Here is a brief glimpse into their world of spirituality…
Pashupatinath, a temple on the banks of the Baghmati River dedicated to Lord Shiva is considered the holiest Hindu pilgrimage destination in the country. On the river banks, the Hindus cremate their dead in a place called the Arya Ghat.
Sometime you may see the pyres burning amidst religious chanting on the river banks. Entrance into the main temple courtyard is permitted to those of the Hindu faith only but visitors are allowed to take pictures of the temple entrance. Photographing Sadhus and Tantriks covered in ash will cost you a fee, so avoid photographing them if you are not in the mood to spend a few dollars.
Budhanilkantha is a temple located at the base of the Shivapuri Hills known for its fascinating statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on a bed of coiled snakes in the middle of a small pond. The statue is said to be sculpted from a single block of stone. Photography is not allowed inside the temple but you could take a few snapshot through the wooden fencing.
Climb 365 ancient steps up to the Swayambhunath complex that consists of a stupa and some holy Buddhist shrines. The golden tower on top of the white stupa has the famous Buddha eyes gazing from all four sides to symbolise the all-seeing Primordial Buddha. Also called the Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath is home to hordes of Macaques that live on the north-west parts of the temple. Visit Swayambhunath to gaze at some great panoramic views of the vast plains below.
A centre for Tibetan culture, Boudhanath Stupa is located on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. It is considered the holiest Buddhist stupa outside of Tibet. Built approximately in the 14th century, the temple is an important centre of Tibetan Buddhism. Standing on a massive three-levelled Mandala styled platform, the stupa is considered the cleanest religious site in the whole of Kathmandu Valley. The stupa is surrounded by over a hundred handicraft and trinket shops and visitors can find a lot of interesting items here but prices can be exorbitant.
Stay tuned for detailed descriptions of each religious site in the next few days…
Text & Photography by Rosemarie John © All Rights Reserved