Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The temple served as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, Nepal is a secular country . The temple is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The temple is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams (Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent). Hindus alone are allowed to enter the temple premises. Non-Hindu visitors are allowed to have a look at the temple from the other bank of Bagmatiriver.
It is regarded as the most sacred among the temples of Lord Shiva (Pashupati).
Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It is not known for certain when Pashupatinath Temple was founded. But according to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here gained great fame there as Pashupati, the Lord of the Animals. Pashupatinath Temple's existence dates back to 400 A.D. The richly-ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or holy symbol of Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple, that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'.
The temple was erected anew in the 17th century by King BhupendraMalla after the previous building had been consumed by termites. 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 a 11th century manuscript. The priests who perform the services at this temple have been Bhat-Brahmins from South India (Karnataka 2010) origin since last 350 years. The priests of Pashaputinath are called Bhattas and the chief priest is called Mool Bhatt or Raval. The chief priest is answerable only to the King of Nepal and reports to him on temple matters on a periodic basis.
This tradition is reported to have started by the request of AdiShankaracharya who sought to unify the different states of Bharatam (Unified India) by encouraging cultural exchange. The unique feature of this temple is that only 4 priests can touch the deity. This tradition is supposed to have started by Sage Shankaracharya in 8th century, ostensibly to stop human sacrifice which was prevalent in that temple. This procedure is also followed in other temples around India which were sanctified by AdiShankaracharya. Malla kings honoured the request of Adishankarachaya as latter being one of the greatest ever Hindu acharyas.
However,this tradition was broken after the historic political revolution in Nepal which demolished the monarchy and established a secular republic. The newly formed government allowed Nepalese priest to worship by discontinuing the centuries old tradition. There was a widespread protests as many thought this as an interference in their religious tradition.