Nepal is also well-known as the heavenly abode of Gods and Goddesses. Several Hindu pilgrims visit here having the belief that Nepal is one of the holiest places to attain salvation. Hinduism is the main and largest religion followed in Nepal. It is believed to have started in Nepal around 2000 BCE. Hinduism is referred to as ‘Sanatan Dharma’ (eternal religion). As per mythology, Hinduism is said to have existed before civilization, hence, it is the oldest religion. There are more than 1000 religious Hindu sites in a small country like Nepal, all of them having immense religious values.
Some of the most significant Hindu heritage sites that the devotees visit at least once in their lifetime are as follows.
1. Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath Temple is a UNESCO Listed World Heritage Site located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. This Hindus shrine is of great significance and also the oldest and largest Hindu temple in Nepal. The temple is revered to Pashupati who is a reincarnation of Lord Shiva. “Pashu” means animal and “Pati” means protector, therefore Pashupati was ‘Lord of animals.’ Pashupatinath Temple is believed to be self-risen and there are several legends briefing it, but the most believed one is The Cow Legend. A couple of thousands of years ago, Gopals (cowherds) came to settle in Nepal brought by Lord Krishna and his brother Balaram. Once a cowherd noticed that his cow went every day to a bare land where there was a small hole and the cow provided her milk by herself.
According to myth, there was a buried lingam, seeing such a majestic scene, the young cowherd told the villagers about it. Then they dug the land and likewise, a huge shiny light spread all over, hence the beautiful Pashupatinath Temple was formed. The shrine and been renovated several times over the centuries and the massive 2015 earthquake in Nepal destroyed some outer and inner buildings/monuments but the main temple was left unharmed.
Likewise, the main temple is a tall and beautiful pagoda-style monument with 4 silver doors, a roof made of copper and gold covering, and an incredible Gajur (pinnacle) made up of gold, a statue of Lord Shiva in form of Pashupatinath. Outside the main temple, there is a big monument of a bronze bull Nandi popularly known as Lord Shiva’s vehicle. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the main temple but can visit the surrounding and other shrines. Apart from the main temple, there are other inner and outer shrines like Vasuki Nath Temple, Unmatta Bhairava Temple, Surya Narayana Temple, Kirtimukha Bhairava, Budhanilakantha, Hanuman shrine, 184 Sivalinga shrine, Ram mandir, Virat Swaroop temple, 12 jyotirlinga, and Pandra Shivalaya, Guhyeshwari Temple. Similarly, there is a half-buried monument of Virupakshya and according to myth, when the statue will emerge out of the ground, it will be the end of Kali Yuga.
Likewise, old Hindu people prefer to spend their last living moments in Pashupatinath as it is believed that every sin they performed is forgiven if their corpses are burnt and spread in the Bagmati river which later mixes up with the river Ganges so that their Aatman (soul) resides in peace and is transformed to the new body either human or animal according to the Dharma they performed in their lifetime. To conclude, Pashupatinath Temple is one of 4 main Hindu temples in the world which is highly significant to Hindu pilgrimages; therefore, Hindus will surely visit this temple for religious belief and peace of mind and soul.
2. Muktinath Temple
Muktinath Temple is a pagoda-style temple derived from the name “Mukti” which means salvation and “Nath” which means “God”, therefore Muktinath is known as “God of Salvation”. Likewise, Muktinath is a form of Vishnu (the salvation god) and legends believe that this was the place where Lord Vishnu received the curse of salvation by Brinda (wife of Jalandhar) and it is said that the holy shrine emerged itself. Muktinath Temple is very important to Hindus pilgrimage which is also known as Mukti Kshetra (the dwelling of salvation) because once Hindu pilgrims visit the region, they take bath in 108 Muktidhara (holy waterspout which flows from Kali Gandaki) and two Kundas (holy ponds) believing it brings salvation forgiving their sins performed during lifetime.
Similarly, this holy shrine is a Svayam Vyakta Kshetras, one of eight sacred places, also one of the 108 Divya Desam, as well as one of the 51 Shakti Pitha goddesses sites. The main shrine is small and has a human-sized monument of Lord Vishnu but the area is huge and also consists of another shrine known as “Jwala Mai” which is an eternal flame that denotes a union ship between two differing elements water and fire as it produces fire eternally which is extracted from spring water resources from the Himalayas that produces natural gases. Located at 3,800 m altitude above sea level, Muktinath Temple is merely a beautiful creation of power from beyond, and in Hindu religion especially Vaishnavism this shrine beholds great power and wisdom and is sacred in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
3. Charnarayan Temples
The Charnarayan are the four Narayan temples that have great importance in Hinduism. These temples are located in four corners of Kathmandu Valley as a symbol that protects Kathmandu from devils and evil spirits. These shrines are devoted to Lord Vishnu especially his incarnation Narayan (eternal man) and the temples are Changunarayan, Sheshnarayan, Bishankhu Narayan, and Ichangu Narayan.
A- Changunarayan Temple
Changunarayan Temple is the temple particularly, the first monument or structure having stone inscription in Nepal. This Hindus shrine is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site that was built during the 3rd century by Mandev (the first king of Lichhavi Dynasty). This Hindus shrine is devoted to Lord Vishnu which makes it much more sacred for Vaishnavism followers. Legends state that there was a cowherd named Gwala who bought a cow from Sudharshan. The cow used to provide milk in perfect amount but the cowherd noticed that for several days the cow provided an insufficient amount of milk. So, he along with Sudharshan went to the Champak Forest to observe the activities of the cow, then they noticed that a dark skin colored boy drank milk from the cow.
They became so enraged that they thought of the boy as a devil and woods as his home. The two men cut down the tree and immediately human blood started flowing from the tree. They both were very frightened and thought they committed a sin, then Lord Vishnu appeared and told them they were innocent instead the mistake was his, as long time back, Vishnu reluctantly killed Sudharshan’s father and as his punishment, he was cursed so he lived in the woods relying on the milk of the cow and after those two men cut the trunk of the tree, he was killed; therefore, freed from his curse.
Both Sudharshan and Gwala were so astonished that they built a small temple in the area revered to Lord Vishnu. After several years of it, King Mandev found the shrine which was located at a perfect location, on top of the hill blessed with natural beauty from where Himalayan ranges could be seen, as well as the temple was of great significance; so, he rebuilt the temple, added stone inscription and some more monuments. Hence, Mandev technically didn’t built the shrine but founded the hidden treasure and promoted it. Moreover, there is a stone tap those dates back to Licchavi Dynasty on the way, similarly, there are elegant monuments spread in the surrounding like Garuda, Narasimha, Kileshswor, Vishworup, Vishnu Vikrant, Chhinnamasta, Historical Pillar, and many more.
B- Ichangu Narayan
Ichangu Narayan is located west of the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley. This holy site is revered to Lord Vishnu and is sacred for Hindus especially Vaishnavism followers as well as is pretty popular because of its unique architecture and as it is located in stunningly scenic place. The shrine dates back to the 6th century but the version we see now was built during the 18th century and some amends were made after the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal. King Haridutta built the temple during the 6th century and it is believed that the statue of Vishnu was placed here that was founded in the Bishnumati River by Shivananda. The sacred site is not only significant to Hindus but also Buddhists.
Apart from the main temple, there are monuments of Lord Vishnu, Garuda, Lord Buddha, Lord Shiva, Parvati, Hanuman, and many other deities. There is another Ichangu Narayan temple in the Makwanpur district of Nepal and both the temple are related. It is believed that worshipping Lord Vishnu will bring you good fortune and make you wiser. There is a great festive celebration during Kartik Purnima and Haribodhan Ekadashi here.
C-Bishankhu Narayan Temple
Bishankhu Narayan Temple was built by Haridutta Varma around 143 AD in Godawari, Lalitpur. It is located in Kathmandu Valley. The main pagoda-style temple was constructed by Haridutta but there is a cave in the shrine, and as per legend, the cave emerged itself which has a monument of Lord Vishnu. The entrance of the cave is very narrow, and it is believed that you can only go through the entrance according to one’s depravity rate, and if you can enter, therefore, your any evil doings are forgiven. There is a hillock on the other side of the shrine, which is assumed to be formed by Vishnu himself while he was killing the monster Bhasmasura and turned him into a heap of ashes.
D- Sheshnarayan Temple
Sheshnarayan Temple is one of four main temples devoted to Lord Vishnu. This holy Hindu shrine is located in Pharping southwest of Kathmandu. The temple is situated next to Asura Cave in a surrounding beautiful environment blessed by nature, pond, hills, and pleasing atmosphere. This temple was built during Lichhavi Dynasty around the 17th century by King Vishnugupta. The main temple is a small pagoda-style temple made just between two great rocky cliffs and there are many monuments in the surrounding that includes the statue of Garuda and Lord Hanuman right in front of the temple, bells, and few other small temples. Inside the main temple, there is the statue of Lord Vishnu.
4. Budhanilkantha Temple
Located in the northern part of Kathmandu Valley on the base of Sivapuri National Park, Budhanilkantha Temple is one of the most popular and sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world. This temple is revered to Budhanilkatha one of incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Budhanilkatha means “Old Blue Throat”, looking at the name everyone will wonder about its peculiar connotation but there’s a long story behind it. To sum up, this name is related to both Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Therefore, this shrine is both very significant to the follower of Vaishnavism and Shaivism. Likewise, Budhanilkatha is mainly popular for the floating statue of Lord Vishnu sleeping on the twirling body of 11 headed Naga (serpent) named Shesha who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. It has been said that this stone sculpture is made up of a single hunk of black basalt stone of indefinite kind.
As stated by legends, the statue was built and brought to Kathmandu by Vishnu Gupta during the reign of Lichchhavi King Bhimarjuna Dev around the 7th century. But the temple had been later discovered during Malla Reign by a farmer and his wife while they were ploughing the field, the plough struck a sarsen which rapidly started bleeding and the blood had flowed through the land, hence the lost idol of Budhanilkantha was found. Similarly, folklore also states that the water where the idol of Lord Vishnu floats was originated from Gosaikunda Lake, and is believed that there is the mirror-like image of Lord Shiva lies the underside of the statue.
There is another superstition that the Royals of Nepal believe that the Kings of Nepal shall not be allowed to visit the temple and pay respect because King Pratap Malla had a vision that the Hindu Kings of Nepal would die if they visited the holy temple. Since there is no monarchy in Nepal, this fallacy no longer exists. Except for the Hindus Kings, all the Hindu pilgrims have a great fate in this shrine and are devoted to Lord Vishnu and believe that touching feet (which is prohibited for everyone but Hindus) and praying to the god with a pure heart will bring fortune. There is a great celebration in Budhanilkantha during Haribodhan Ekadashi and Thulo Ekadashi here.
5. Manakamana Temple
Manakamana Temple is located in the Gorkha district 150km west of Kathmandu. The temple is revered to Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of powerful Goddess Parvati. Manakama is originated from two words “Mana” (heart) and “Kamana” (wish) which means wish sought from a pure heart. It is highly believed by the Hindus that the wishes asked from a pure heart in the temple will be granted by Goddess Bhagwati herself. The legends state that the queen of King of Gorkha, Ram Shah was an incarnation of the goddess and the king himself was unaware of it, but Lakhan Thapa, her devotee knew about it. One day, the king saw his queen in the form of a goddess and Lakhan Thapa in the form of a lion. Soon after the incident, the King died mysteriously. After his demise, the queen performed Sati (a custom where wives sacrifice themselves when the husband dies by sitting on the funeral pyre of the husband, but the custom is no longer practiced).
But prior to her decease, the queen told her devotee Lakhan Thapa that she would soon be back again. After six months, a farmer hit a stone and spit it while he was ploughing the field, but the stone started flowing the stream of blood and milk. Hearing of the news, Lakhan Thapa immediately went to the field. After encountering the event, he started performing Hindu tantric rituals to stop the stone from flowing blood and milk. After the fizzling of the blood and milk, Lakhan Thapa established the area as Manakamana Mai in remembrance of the goddess.
Though this incident took place during the 17th century, the temple we see now was constructed during the 19th century. The priest in the temple has been from the descendent of Lakhan Thapa since the 17th century and according to the tradition, it must be followed so. Likewise, the main temple is a Pagoda Styled temple which has brass plates on the roof and is situated right across a massive sacred Mongolia Tree. Lots of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world visit Manakama Temple to worship as Manakamana Mai is also a symbol of good luck and having faith for their wish to be fulfilled.
Similarly, the Hindu mythology states that the universe consists of five elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether and the offering to the goddess are made on their basis which includes Abir (vermillion), Kesar Badam (saffron and almond), flowers and leaves, Dhup (incense), Diya (oil lamp), Bastra (Cloth usually red), fruits and sweet, Bell, Betelnut and Janai (sacred thread), Anna (grains, especially rice), Saubhagya (things accessorized by a married woman like red cloth, Chura, pota, etc.)
They also sacrifice animals such as goats, roosters, pigeons, etc. In addition, previously it used to take about three hours hike to worship and visit the temple but after the inauguration of Cable Car in 1998, it takes about 10 minutes to reach the shrine from Kurintar. Visiting Manakamana Temple not only allows you to worship and pray for your wishes to be fulfilled but also allows you to encounter the majestic view of the Himalayas including the Manaslu and Annapurna ranges, beautiful local villages, and lush green landscape. Likewise, you also get the opportunity to ride Nepal’s first cable car enjoying the mesmerizing view.
6. Dakshinkali Temple
Dakshinkali Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in the world. It is a unique holy destination where priests are also a professional butcher. It is because this temple is revered to the Kali, bloodthirsty incarnation of Goddess Parvati. She demands life every week twice on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so on these days of the week, the temple is filled with pilgrims who sacrifice animals for the deity in return to her blessings. Dakshinkali Temple is located between two rocky hills, on the outskirts of Pharping which is all together 22 kilometers from Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, it is believed that the temple was built by the orders of fierce goddess Kali herself. Since this temple is of great importance to Hindus from all over the world, they visit the temple at least once in a lifetime and as they had to come from far away, there are pati and pauwa dating centuries back.
One day, King Pratap Malla dreamt of Goddess Kali in his dream where she commanded him to build a temple in a very strange place. The King then took the command and told his men about it. One of his men told the king that he had seen a stone engraving of Kali in such kind of place. The engraving had the picture of Goddess Kali where she had shade of four gilded snakes, a picture of ruler Ganesh, seven Asthamatrikas and stone Bhairav. This Hindu shrine is not only well-known because of religious faith but is also a popular destination for hike around in Kathmandu Valley. The temple is located in midst of lush green forest full of natural flora and fauna, on top of a hill and also by the confluence of two rivers, likewise the place reflects serenity. Like in other Hindu temples, the non-Hindus are not allowed to visit the courtyard of the temple but they can observe it from terrace and other points. Similarly, there is a tradition of hanging bells on the railings of stairs of this temple and the people highly believe that what one wishes with pure heart will come true if they do so.
7. Dolakha Bhimsen Temple
Dolakha Bhimsen Temple also known as Bhimeshwor Temple is located in Dolakha Bazar of Dolakha district. The temple is revered to Bhimsen, second prince of Pandavas. Every temple in Nepal has its own unique property and in this sacred site, it is the worshiping of three different gods in three different time of the day. The main idol resides in the roofless temple and is a triangular stone which represents three deities Bhimeshwar (worshiped during the morning), Shiva (worshiped during the day), and Narayana (worshipped during the evening). The myth state that, a long time back 12 porters very exhausted and hungry planned to cook rice and rest near the temple. They prepared a three-stoned stove to cook the rice but noticed that the rice was only cooking on one side. So, they flipped the rice but it turned raw. Extremely furious, they hit the stone with the spatula but the stone started flowing blood and milk. They ten realized that the stone was the idol of Lord Bhimsen. It is unknown about how old the shrine is and who built it but it has been renovated several times and the first renovation inscription dates back to 1611 AD. Likewise, pilgrims visit the temple for financial stability and prosperity.
Almost worshiping every Hindu temple is incomplete without sacrificing, hence sacrificial worshiping is also highly practiced here. The non-Hindu travelers aren’t allowed to enter the main courtyard of the shrine but can see and worship from the surrounding. It is highly believed and somehow proven that the idol sweats before any misfortunes happen as a warning to the people. The idol sweated during the change of Rana Regime, before the earthquake of both 1934 and 2015, as well as a few days ahead of the Royal Massacre. The Hindus have a high devotion towards the shrine and Lord Bhim, therefore every day specially on Tuesdays and Saturdays, lots of Hindu pilgrims visit the temple from all over the world. During the time of festivals like Bala Chaturdashi, Ram Navami, Chaitra Ashtami, and Bhima Ekadashi, there are lots of fairs and events here, and lots of people visit the temple during that time as the destination becomes jollier. The temple is not only popular among the pilgrims for worshiping but also its scenic location and mesmerizing view of Himalayas and Dolakha valley seen from there attracts the tourists.
8. Palanchowk Bhagwati Temple
Palanchowk Bhagwati Temple is located in Kavrepalanchowk district 42 km east from Kathmandu. It is a pagoda style temple and consists of a 3-feet high sculpture of the Goddess Bhagwati engraved on a shiny black stone. The monument of goddess is decorated with antique jewelries. This Hindu shrine is believed to be constructed during the reign of King Man Dev although the exact date is still unknown. The goddess visited the King on his dream and commanded to relocate her idol from a small village called Buchhakot to where the temple is located today. Goddess Bhagwati is the image of Goddess Durga without the impact of Rudra or Himsa. She is very calm, peaceful and loving. She is also famous for having 18 hands. This shrine is rich in architect, religious significance and peaceful environment blessed by nature. Sacrifice rituals is also performed in this temple and many pilgrimages mostly visit here on Tuesdays, Saturdays and during Dashain Festival to offer animal sacrifice to the goddess. Goddess Bhagwati is one of the powerful four goddess sisters which are Kalinchowk Bhagwati, Palanchowk Bhagwati, Shova Bhagwati and Naxal Bhagwati. On the monument present inside the temple, the head of the goddess is tilted dues to the massive earthquake of 1990 BS in Nepal but it was found after 8 decades. This temple is significant to both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. This sacred destination is not only popular for its art, culture and religious importance but also for the nature and landscape. Palanchowk Bhagwati temple is situated on top of the Palanchowk hill which was named after the temple. The majestic view of settlement, landscape, beautiful lush green forest and Himalayas like Jugal Himal, Mt. Langtang, Mt. Ganesh and Mt. Kanchenjunga can be seen from here.
9. Janaki Temple
Janaki Temple also known as Ram Janaki Temple is the palace of King Janak of Mithila. The temple is dedicated to the daughter of King Janak, Goddess Sita. It is a Mughal and Koiri styled three-storied palace fully made up of marbles and stones. This beautifully built palace is very important for its architect as well as sacred for Hinduism. Popularly known as Nau Lakha Mandir as it cost 9 hundred thousand to build the heritage, it consists of three stories having 60 rooms all of which are decorated with the flag of Nepal, carvings, colored glasses, and Mithila paintings.
The palace is located in Janakpur previously known as Mithila State in Terai region of Nepal. Likewise, this unique and elegant palace was built by Queen Vrisha Bhanu of Tikamgarh. There is a huge golden statue of Goddess Sita here and various relics of 11th and 12th centuries can be also found here. Janaki Temple is of huge significance because it is the birthplace of Goddess Sita. She was founded and raised here by King Janak until she married King Ram of Ajodhya. While visiting the Janaki Temple, you could also visit Ram Janaki Bibaha Mandap which is located besides the Janaki Temple. It is the place where Ram and Sita got married. There also is a museum where the history and culture of Mithila, about King Janak, Sita and Ram is presented. Antique jewelries and dresses of Goddess Sita is also preserved here. A must-visit place here is also Dhanusadham Temple which is located at 20km North-East of Janakpur. This temple is very important because the bow which Ram had broke according to the legend is said to be preserved here. Similarly, Aarati is done every evening in Janaki Temple which is of great significance to Hindus all around the world.
10. Bajrayogini Temple
Bajrayogini or Vajrayogini Temple is a standout amongst the significant sanctuaries for both Hindus and Buddhists. It is located in Sankhu 20 km northeast of Kathmandu in Gunbaha area which means ‘recreational forest spot’ in Newari. Hence, this shrine is situated in a very beautiful naturely area which is why it is also popular for hiking. Likewise, Bajrayogini Temple was constructed during Lichhavi Period and was renovated by King Man Dev as a redemption for his sin. He had unwillingly killed his father. It was again renovated during Malla reign by King Pratap Malla. This temple is revered to Goddess Bajrayogini, the eldest tantric deity who is conflated with Ugra Tara, a Buddhist Dharmapala Ekajati. According to a holy book, the site of the temple was once a forked piece of stone, which emitted fire. This is quite surprising and came to be sacred because it happened when the whole world was covered with snow and long before there arose a five-colored flame, which came to be the volcanic goddess. The goddess then wished a temple to be built of this particular place where she emerged. Similarly, inside the three-tier high shrine, there consists of idol of Red Bajrayogini having 3 eyes and all of her hands. Goddess Bajrayogini is considered to be one of the wisest and strongest goddesses to grant enlightenment. Since the temple is on the hill, the hill top is accessed by a long stone-carved staircase, and the entire area is covered with Newari metal work, carved woods and ancient relics. Lots of pilgrims and tourists visit this temple especially during the famous festival Bajrayogini Fair which is held in Chaite Purnima that falls during March or April.
11. Bindabasini Temple
Bindabasini Temple is the oldest temple in Pokhara. It was built by King Siddhi Narayan Shah in 1842 BS. This sacred temple is situation 3000 ft. above sea level overlooking the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre Himalayan ranges and Phewa Lake. ‘Binda’ means incarnation of goddess and ‘Basini’ means the dweller of a place. The temple is revered to Hindu Goddess Durga. Bindabasini is believed to be a manifestation of Goddess Durga. Animal sacrifice is offered to the deity of this temple too and different rituals like marriage, Bratabandha, etc. are performed here. Bindabasini Temple is a Shikhar style architecture where two golden metal lions stand erect beside the golden carved metal temple gate and metal gong-bells. The legends state that the King of Kaski, Sidddhi Narayan Shah or the King of Parbat Khadgaman Malla dreamt about establishing a temple for goddess Bindabasini. Hence, he commanded his men to bring the idol of the goddess from Bindhyachal Parbat (currently in Uttar Pradesh, India). His men set camp for the night but the next morning they couldn’t lift the statue so the king directed them to construct the temple there. Therefore, the temple yet today lies there. Goddess Bindabasini is also considered to be the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudeva (Parents of Lord Krishna). During the largest Hindu festival Dashain, large number of pilgrimages offer sacrifices to the Hindu deity. Several non-Hindu tourists visit the sanctuary as well because of its significance as well as the picturesque location.
12. Banglamukhi Temple
The cultural importance of Banglamukhi Temple is immense. This sacred Hindus sanctuary is located in Lalitpur near Patan Durbar Square. Huge number of devotes visit the temple to worship the goddess especially on Thursdays because this day of the week is considered to be the day of Bhagwati. The devotees are noticed usually wearing purple or yellow clothing an bring pieces of cloths of these colors for offering as it is considered to be the goddesses favorite colors. The also worship by burning Agarbatti (incense sticks) and ghee Pala Batti (butter lamps). According to legends, a demon named Bagala had tormented the lives of inhabitants there. The poor people prayed to the goddess, who, pleased by their petition, came to rescue them. She fought Bagala by pulling his tongue out by her left hand and striking oh his head by her right hand. The locals were very grateful and as an act of devotion towards her, they built a temple dedicating to her. Goddess Banglamukhi, also considered as Bhairavi, a type of Matrika devi, the mother of all speech as she stops people from engaging in evil gossips. She is often portrayed as angry goddess but physically she has yellow undertone skin, very soft a smooth and often dresses herself in yellow or purple. Likewise, the temple realm is very wide and open and it has many other small temples of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, Goddess Manakamana, etc. within the courtyard. There are also ponds both inside and outside of temple, both which consists of stone taps. Similarly, the temple is said to be ruled by planet Jupiter.
13. Gadhimai Temple
Gadhimai Temple is a sacred Hindu temple located in Bara district of south-central Nepal. This temple is devoted to Goddess Gadhimai, a manifestation of Goddess Kali. This temple is where the biggest temple sacrifice is conducted every five years. Hindu devotees from all around the world come here during the festival with the hope of pleasing the goddess by slaughtering and offering her animals in return to fulfillment of wishes. The festival starts with the ceremonial ‘Pancha Bali’, where five animals, a rat, a goat, a pigeon, a rooster and a pig are sacrificed. Gadhimai Temple dates back to around 265 years and it was Bhagwan Chaudhary who found the temple. He one day had a dream that the goddess wanted blood in return of freeing him from prison (which he was not guilty for performing any crime), protecting from evil and granting prosperity and power. She demanded for human sacrifice but he instead offered to sacrifice five animals, and this is how the centuries old festival, Gadhimai Mela started. But as of 2015, the temple authorities declared ban of the future sacrifice of animals. Likewise, the Supreme Court of Nepal has not declared anything formally but it gave the mandate to discourage the sacrifice rituals. Apart from this, the shrine is considered to be a divine power center. Inside the temple courtyard, there are two small brightly painted temples under the banyan and pepal trees and the main temple is built in pagoda style.
14. Pathibhara Temple
Pathibhara Temple lies in Taplejung district of eastern Nepal at an elevation of 3,794 meters. Also known as Mukkumlung, this shrine is very significant for Hindus especially for ethnic people of Limbu community. Pathibhara Devi is believed to be a fierce goddess but can be easily pleased by any selfless act, prayer and offering sacrifices to her by honest, pure intentions. She fulfils the wishes of her devotees like sons for those without son, good health, wealth for poor, etc. Legend has it that several years ago local shepherds lost hundreds of their sheep while grazing at the same place where the temple is present today. The upset shepherds had a dream in which the goddess commanded them to carry out sacrificial rituals of sheep and build a shrine in her honor. The shepherds followed her order and when the sacrifice was offered, the lost herd returned. Ever since that day, animal sacrifice is done in this temple. Likewise, Pathibhara Temple is also one of the 51 “Shakti Peeths”, one of the places where parts of dead body of Sati had fallen as Lord Shiva was carrying her body. Hindu pilgrims come to worship at this temple as it is of great religious importance and it is believed that the goddess will fulfill her devotees wishes. Since this temple is situated on top of a hill, mesmerizing view of gorges, landscape, and Himalayas including Kanchenjunga range and Kumbhakarna can be seen. Similarly, Pathibhara is also a second route for Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek.
15. Doleshwor Mahadev Temple
Doleshwor Mahadev temple that is located in Bhaktapur, 20 km from Kathmandu is the head part of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, India. Doleshwor was recognized to be the head of the holy bull not long ago in 2009 after 4000 years. Inside the main sanctuary built in Pagoda style lies the head of the bull. Reminiscing at the history, it goes back to the renowned Mahabharata warfare between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Although the Pandava brothers won the war, they were devastated for the loss of lives caused by them. So, the five brothers went to the Himalayas, the heavenly abode of the gods to beg for forgiveness. But Lord Shiva was fuming and in no vein to forgive them, so he took the form of a bull to avoid them. But the Pandavas eventually discovered that the bull was Lord Shiva and tried to stop it by pulling its tail. Suddenly the head of the bull got separated and flew off the sky. Therefore, the torso is present at Kedarnath and the head at Doleshwor. The visit to all the temples having parts of the bull, Doleshwor, Kedarnath, Tungnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar is highly anticipated to bring salvation to the pilgrimages. Doleshwoe Mhadev is mostly visited during the month of Shravan (July-August) and Magh (January-February) and on a special occasion like Maha Shivaratri, Teej, etc. Unlike the special occasions, Mondays and Saturdays are said to be the days of the Lord Doleshwor. Since this temple is devoted to Lord Shiva, it holds a great importance for the Hindus who especially follow Shaivism.
16. Gokarna Mahadev Temple
Gokarna Mahadev or Gokarneswor Temple is located near Gokarna Village around 10 km northeast of Kathmandu. This Hindus shrine is renowned for its three-tiered Newari Pagoda style architecture inside which the lingam of Lord Shiva is preserved, the collection of exquisite stone monuments, and carvings that date back to more than thousand years. Inside the temple compound, idols of every Hindu gods are said to be preserved. As per holy books of tales of the gods, one day Lord Shiva was roaming around the forests of Gokarna in disguise of a deer to hide from other gods. But the gods recognized him and forcefully tried to take him back, this was when the horn of the deer broke into three pieces, and Lord Brahma later buried the horns which is where the temple stands till this date. Gokarna Temple holds a festival called Gokarna Aunsi, which is a tribute to the fathers. People mostly visit the temple on this festival and the people whose father have passed away also visit the temple in remembrance of them. Likewise, behind the temple, there is a river where ‘Vishnu Paduka’, a metal plate with footprint of Lord Vishnu lies, in front is an image of Narayan resting on a bed of snakes. Many Hindu pilgrims have a great belief, faith in this temple, especially for those who lost their fathers. They worship the temple in hope for their father to be in a good place after demise.
17. Dupcheshwor Mahadev
Dupcheshwor Mahadev Temple also known as second Pashupatinath Temple is an eminent sanctum in Hinduism. It is located 60 km north of Kathmandu in a very remote village of Nuwakot district. It is situated on top of a rocky cliff standing on the bank of Tadi river. The temple is well-known for its wish-granting powers. The devotees worship the god by offering milk and pray to grant their wish, and a wish of pure intention is believed to be granted. After their wish is fulfilled, the devotees again visit the temple to pay homage to the god. The chief temple priest also stated that lots of people come back second time after their wish has been granted. The pilgrims also have special belief towards God Dupcheshwor, who have not been able to conceive children. Legend holds that a Tamang herdsman’s milking cow was lost but it actually was a ‘Kamdhenu’, a divine bovine-goddess also known as ‘Gou Mata’, the mother of all cows. It was later found pouring its milk by itself on a Shiva Lingam. The villagers found out about it and since then they started to worship the Shiva Lingam as Dupcheshwor Mahadev. Every year on the month of Poush (December/January), on the days of Dhanya Purnima (especial full moon days), a special type of fair/carnival called ‘Mela’ is held where the pilgrims all around the country visit. Such type of Mela is also held on festivals like Teej, Maha Shivaratri, Janai Purnima, etc.
18. Krishna Mandir
Krishna Mandir is located inside Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. This splendid Shikhar style architecture was built by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla in 1637 which took about 10 years to be completed. This three-tiered stone carved temple with 21 golden pinnacles is astonishingly beautiful and creative in architectural point of view. Even though non-Hindus can look at the temple from outside, they are forbidden to enter the temple. Krishna Mandir as the name states is devoted to Lord Krishna. It is very significant for Hindu pilgrims and especial festival is held on the temple every year on Krishna Janmashtami, birthday of Lord Krishna. Legend has it that, this temple was constructed by the King because he dreamt about Lord Krishna and Radha standing in front of his palace. He then ordered the palace to be built on the same location they were standing on. Inside the holy temple, the idol of Lord Krishna is enshrined. Likewise, Garuda, a bird that is also the mount of Lord Vishnu, kneels with folded arms on top of a column facing the temple. Similarly, Krishna Mandir despite being made by only stones is considered one of the strongest and well-made structures in Nepal as it stayed intact through the massive 2015 earthquake.
19. Baglung Kalika
Baglung Kalika Temple also known as Kalika Bhagwati Temple is another eminent Hindu temple located in Baglung district of western Nepal. This shrine is revered to the Hindu deity Goddess Kali. Kalika is considered to be one of the most important and powerful goddesses in Shaivism sect. Many devotees visit the temple to gain the strength to overcome their problems and hardships of life. This holy temple is situated in a dense forest, located on the southern bank of Kali Gandaki River. As per legends, the King of Parbat District, Pratap Narayan Singh Malla, received monument of goddess Kalika as a dowry during his marriage with the daughter of King Manimukunda Sen. During their journey back home after the wedding, the bride, groom and guests decided to camp and stay the night there. But in the morning, not a single soul could list the idol. The king then ordered his men to build the temple on the very spot. Similarly, the temple was renovated in the late 1990s. There are four entrances of the temple each in cardinal direction. Inside the temple courtyard, lies various other small temples dedicated to Shiva, Radha, Krishna, Lakshmi, Narayan and others. The major festivals celebrated in the temple is Dashain and Chaite-Dashain, a Hindu festival that fall in Chaitra (March/April). During this occasion, pilgrimages worship using Ghee Pala Batti (butter lamp), flowers, red and yellow aabir, dhup batti (incense stick), and prasad. They also get married on the temple hoping to get Goddess Kalika’s blessing.
20. Devghat Dham
Devghat Dham located in Tanahu district, 130 km southwest of Kathmandu Valley is considered to be one of the divine places in Hindu mythology. It is situated at the confluence of two rivers Seti Gandaki and Krishna Gandaki midst a tropical forest. This sacred Hindu sanctuary has immense importance in the religious point of view. Even people following Hinduism wish to be incinerated here after their demise. Likewise, this holy site was the place where Lord Shiva resided with his disciples. This also was the place where Goddess Sita went inside the Mother Earth to return back to her abode. Devghat Dham is the home to several temples and caves revered to Hindu deities that includes Goddess Sita’s cave, Bashista cave, Radha Krishna temple, Galeshwor temple, Sitaram temple, Laxminarayan temple, Shankaracharya temple, Bageshwori temple, and many other. There also is a school to learn Sanskrit here as well as many old age homes. Lots of pilgrims from all over the world visit Devghat Dham to worship was well as take holy bath in the junction of two rivers. This site is also very popular for Shaligram (a holy stone that is worshipped as the iconic representation of Lord Vishnu). Every year on the occasion Maghe Sankranti, one of the largest Mela (fair) is held here where devotees come to worship, take holy bath and collect Shaligram. Likewise, Devghat Dham is also well-known as a recreational spot as it lies at the tri-center of Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Tanahu district, on the bank of rivers, midst forest overlooking scenic landscape enjoying natural flora and fauna.
21. Guhyeshwari Temple
Guhyeshwari Temple also known as Guheswari or Guhjeshwari, is located around 1 km east of the main temple in Pashupatinath. This temple is also one of 51 Shakti Peethas and as every Shakti Peethas is devoted to a Shakti and a Kalbhairav. In Guhyeshwari Temple, the Shakti is Mahashira and the Bhairav is Kapali. It is believed that the temple is standing up to date where Goddess Sati’s both knees fell of her corpse. This temple was built by King Pratap Malla in 17th century. Likewise, the holy shrines name originates from two Sanskrit words “Guhye” meaning hidden or secret and “Ishwori” meaning goddess. This temple is revered to Goddess Guhyekali. It is also considered as one of the most significant places to attain Tantric education and power as the temple itself possess divine female vigor. Guhyeshwari Temple is although of Pagoda style, it has some unique features. Instead of having rising Goddess image, it has a flat head parallel to the ground that is crowned by bowing down. Rather than having traditional pinnacle, the sole pinnacle is supported by four gilt snakes. Similarly, the idol of the goddess is worshiped at the center of the temple in a silver and gold covered Kalash which rests on a stone base that covers an underground water spring from which water gushes from the edges. A pond, Bhairav Kunda, lies next to the religious figure. It is highly believed that the devotees who put their hand in the pond is considered holy and is accepted as a blessing by the deity herself. This temple is not only significant for Hindus but also for Buddhists, especially for those following Vajrayana Buddhism. Inside the temple premises, idol of different forms of Goddess Durga, small shrines revered to Lord Shiva are present. Likewise, pilgrims first worship at this temple then enter Pashupatinath Temple because of the belief of worshiping Shakti before Shiva. Pilgrimages visit the shrine for power as this temple has a very strong and vibrant aura. They mostly visit the temple during Navratri, the first 10 days of the Hindu's greatest festival Dashain.
22. Sali Nadi Temple
Sali Nadi Temple is located in an ancient Newar Town called Sankhu, northeast of Kathmandu Valley. This Hindu sanctuary holds great significance to Hindu devotees. It is revered to Goddess Swastani of the holy Hindu book called Swastani. Sali Nadi is mostly visited by pilgrimages on a month-long festival Swastani Purney, which starts on the day of the first full moon in Poush (around January) and ends on the last full moon of the month. During this festival, devotees read the holy book Swastani every evening, bathe every morning, change clean clothes every day and eat pure vegetarian food only once a day. They also visit the temple to worship and take a holy bath on the Sali Nadi river as it is believed to remove sins. Sali Nadi Temple is situated on a hillock at the bank of the Sali Nadi river. Devotees especially women follow this ritual to attain the blessing of their husband and children’s health and prosperity and ideal husband for unmarried. During the festival, one of the largest carnivals is held where devotees from all over the world visit. The is very unique having eight corners and a gold-plated roof, carvings of Goddess with her Vahana lion. Inside the temple is the huge idol of Goddess Swastani sitting on top of her Vahana Lion. Sacrificial rituals are also performed in the temple. Sali Nadi is also a hiking route to Nagarkot which makes it a popular destination for tourists.
23. Ram Dhuni Temple
Ram Dhuni Temple is an ancient and one of the most significant Hindu temples. It is located in the Sunsari district of eastern Nepal. This sacred shrine dates back to the Treta Yuga. According to the legends, Lord Ram and Sita visited this site and spend a night here when they were in Banbas (exile). They also blew up a fire here which ever since then is still burning. This is why the temple is named Ram Dhuni, meaning the flame scorched by Ram. This temple has a very unique custom of devotees accepting the burnt ashes from the Dhuni as an offering and believing it would bring them prosperity. Similarly, this temple lies amidst a dense forest and is of pagoda style colored in yellow, white, and red. Inside the temple premises are the statues of Lord Shiva, Chandra, Ram, Sita, Durga, Singh, Baba Bankhandi, and Shiva lingams. There is also a pond beside the main sanctuary, and it is said that Goddess Sita took a bath here, and is highly believed that the water in this pond will never dry out.
Myths also state that long before Ram and Sita stayed here, Baba Bankhandi (one of the biggest Hindu sage) used to burn incense in Ram Dhuni Temple and use it as a penance. This is also another reason why ashes are considered so holy in this temple. Several pilgrims from all around the world visit here especially on the occasions of Ram Navami, Vivah Panchami, and Valachaturdashi because every year grand Mela (carnival) is organized in this temple during those festivals. Ram Dhuni Temple is always kept clean and vivid as the locals and priests believe that the god’s abode must be bright and delightful. Although less publicized, this sacred shrine is of great religious importance and of high potentiality for religious tourism.
24. Halesi Mahadev Temple
Halesi Mahadev Temple also known as Halesi-Maratika Cave is a sacred shrine revered to Lord Shiva. It is a holy site for Hindus, Buddhists, and Kirats. This temple dates back to 6000 years and was used by Lord Siva as a hideout to hide from the demon Bhasmasur. It is located in the Khotang district and lies on top of a hill between the two holy rivers of Dudh Koshi and Sun Koshi. Halesi is a huge cave 67 feet below the surface from the land. There are three mysterious and natural caves of Halesi Mahadev Temple that symbolize the three eyes of Lord Shiva. Inside one of the caves is an image of Lord Shiva, the next one has an image of Nandi (Lord Shiva’s Mount) and the other one consists of two feet long Siva Lingam. Likewise, inside the three big caves are other small caves that signify different entrances of birth, sins, religion, heaven, and also the abode of different deities.
In front of the Halesi cave is a self-formed holy pond and close to it lies a self-formed secret cave of Guru Padmasambhava. Lots of women devotees visit to worship the temple during the month of Shrawan for the long life and prosperity of their families. Great Melas are held in Halesi Mahadev Temple during Shrawan, Ram Navami, Shivaratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, and Bala Chaturdashi. This temple is one of the most significant and ancient shrines which is often referred to as the east’s Pashupatinath.