The Hindu Temples at Pashupatinah

Set on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River is the Nepal's holiest Hindu site, Pashupatinah (or Pashupatinath). The temples are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, in one of his more benign forms as Pashupati, Lord of the Animals. Inside one of the temples – where only Hindus may enter – is the Pashupati "linga" (or phallus), which believers hold as a source of great power.

On the east bank of the river, to which non-Hindus are restricted, there are a number of "shivalaya," temples that house smaller versions of the sacred linga. From the east bank, one has a good view across the river to colorful scenes of Hindu worshipers coming down to the river for blessings. One can also see the somber cremation ghats. For devout Hindus, to die and be cremated at Pashupatinah is to be released from many cycles of death and rebirth. Along the east bank, non-Hindus can also see the "sadhus," Hindu ascetics and followers of Shiva that cover themselves with ash and wear or carry other symbols of their devotion.