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Holy Places of Nepal

Abhishek Subedi July 22, 2020

Nepal, not only famous for its natural beauty but also is renowned as a cultural melting pot where two of the oldest religions amalgamate – Hinduism and Buddhism. Nepal has a glorious past which dates back to thousands of years, few of the oldest religious sites in Nepal are treasured as the holiest places on the planet to perceive/receive redemption by Hindus and Buddhists followers. In Nepal, religion pervades every aspect of life with festivals, occasions, daily chores and rituals, family gatherings, celebrations, and religious observances. At each step, one can maintain acquaintances with temples and shrines, processions and devotional sounds. Although Nepal was once the world’s only Hindu Nation, but a secular now, is a tangled and beautiful tapestry woven of Hinduism, Buddhism and other faiths loving together harmony and forbearance.  

It is needless to mention that Nepal is recognized as one of the important touristic destinations in the whole world. Besides natural facet, religious tourism has been a major component of national
tourism in Nepal. Tourism is the largest industry in Nepal which possesses great potential to grow in an exponential fashion. Globally, travel and tourism is a true economic activity. As a Hindu-majority and a visible Buddhist minority, religious tourism is proliferating when it comes to internal tourism. Nepalese people have been adopting the viral trend of traveling and visiting pilgrimage sites, ‘Kundas’ (holy lakes, ponds) lately, which is good news for the entire tourism fraternity. Nepal is home to numerous holy temples, mountains and other religious destinations worth visiting.

1. Pashupatinath Temple

Devoted to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia mainly for the devotees of Shiva. It was built up in the 5th century and renovated by Malla kings later. It is believed that the site itself has existed from the beginning of the millennium when a Shiva Linga was unearthed here. Situated on the bank of holy Bagmati River, a bit away from the cacophony of the capital, Kathmandu this temple is the most sacred Hindu place in Nepal. Pashupatinath, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Nepal, is the must-visit place for Hindus, to mention straightforwardly. Here, the lives of many people settle down daily; come to an end, cremations take place, and lots of devout Nepalese come here to die.

Holy Places of Nepal

On the bank, there lies a cremation site where the last rites and rituals of Hindus are performed. The final procession and cremation are definitely not for those faint-hearted souls. Still, we can see people watching those grieving scenes. You can make a visit to Pashupatinath Temple for an out-of-this-world experience. Writing about its structure, it is the largest temple complex in Nepal, which stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River from Gaushala to Guheshwori. The temple is built in pagoda styled has a gilded roof, silver-covered four sided roofs, and wood carvings of the top-notch quality. Also one can get to see/observe numbers of Temples and sub-temples devoted to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surrounding the temple premises of Pashupatinath.

2. Bouddhanath Stupa

To the east of downtown Kathmandu, just 8 kilometers away, Boudhanath Stupa stands to be one of the most imposing landmarks in the capital which is easily visible from Tribhuvan International Airport. It is the largest ‘Chorten’ in the valley, one can see as soon as he/she lands at TIA.

Holy Places of Nepal

For Buddhists, the distinctive white dome and the golden pinnacle of Boudhanath Stupa is the most sacred site. It was built in the 14th century and is popular as one of the biggest Stupas in the world. Many Buddhist sites in Tibet are modeled on this astounding place. As we can see, Boudhanath premises is a hub of Tibetan lifestyle in Kathmandu, and the lanes and alleys around the stupa are full of Tibetan knick-knack shops, delightful restaurants catering to locals as well as tourists’ desires. If you are looking forward to paying a holy visit to Boudhanath Stupa we recommend you not to miss the auspicious round walk in the clockwise direction (called a Kora), and to spin the brass prayers’ wheels along the way circling the dome.

3. Lumbini

Lumbini is the place of many temples, monasteries and monuments. It is the birthplace of the Lord Gautam Buddha ” Light of Asia”. This place is truly known for its religious and historical significance. You can bless yourself with the spiritual and good energy residing in the place. As the place itself carries great historical significance, the surrounding heritage has increased the beauty of the place even more. The visitors can witness the beauty of the different arts and architectures of several countries. You can even get close to the history of the Lord Gautam Buddha. . Lumbini is the Buddhist pilgrimage located in the Rupandehi district of Province number 5 in Nepal. It is the major tourist attraction of the country with many temples and historical monuments.  

Holy Places of Nepal

Lumbini is one of many magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha. This historical place was made a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.  The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built, no other structures such as shops, hotels or restaurants can be constructed around there. This has helped to preserve the beauty of the place as the religious and historical site. It is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravada monasteries and the western has Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. There is a long water filled canal separating the western and eastern zones, with the series of brick arch bridges joining the two sides along the length.

4. Swayambhunath

 Resting on a hillock just 3 kilometers away to the northwest Kathmandu, Swaymbhunath, also known as the “Monkey Temple” among international vacationers and wayfarers, rests atop its hill and overlooking the valley. According to the travelers, this is the perfect place to catch staggering vistas of the city. This holy site itself has stood as an emblem of faith and harmony for centuries. The luster of Kathmandu valley is said to have risen from this holy point.

Swayambhunath

It is a primeval Buddhist Stupa on a small hill witnessing the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. One can reach the top via a steep staircase on its eastern side, or a gradual road on the west. We must say that it’s one of the most iconic sets of Kathmandu, with its white dome, ornate bronze spire, and painted Buddha eyes with complexity. Surrounded by numbers of statues, temples and stone Chortens, as well as the fiddle-faddle creatures that give it the nickname of ‘Monkey Temple’. Yet not as large as Boudhanath, it is also circulated in a clockwise direction. No rays of doubt! It’s a must-visit place in Kathmandu.

 5. Gosaikunda

Gosaikunda is also one of the biggest alpine freshwater lakes, situated at an altitude of 4, 380 meters in the Langtang National Park, Rasuwa district. The lake is categorized under the Ramsar site, including 108 small and average size lakes. The Gosaikunda area is portrayed as the major tourist destination of Nepal. Tourists can experience the mesmerizing view of Gosaikunda area, following the four days long Dhunche-Helambu trekking route. Moreover, adjoining the another popular Langtang Valley trek in the same district. The treks provide quite impressive accommodations; residents of the place offer varieties of food, snacks, tea to the tourists.

Gosaikunda

Moreover, the lake also reflects religious and cultural values as well. According to Hindu mythology, Gosaikunda is home of Lord Shiva and Gauri. Its freshwater is considered not only pure but also holy and sacred. Visitors from India and Nepal come to take a holy bath on the occasion of Janai Purnima and Ganga Dashara. There are all total 108 holy lakes in this region including nine more famous Kundas such as Saraswati, Bhairav, Surya, Ganesh Kunda etc.

6. Muktinath

At an altitude of 3,710 meters, Muktinath, a sacred place to both Hindus and Buddhists, lies in Mustang district. It is believed to be a holy spot where liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth is found. Perched at the foothills of the legendary Thorung La (Pass). Moreover, it is the most-sought after pass and should be crossed on the Annapurna Circuit trek. Muktinath can be approached via both trekking and driving or riding. It is a swift yet uphill drive (or a longer hike) from the village of Kagbeni in Lower Mustang. On a sunny day, we can get to witness the mesmerizing eyeshot of the snowy Himalayas and the rugged as well as the dry landscape of Mustang. Believe us the rustic setting of life in windy wonderland, Mustang is incredible. Literally, out-of-this-world experience.

Muktinath

The main shrine of Muktinath shaped in Pagoda style was devoted to Lord Vishnu. Circled by the wall which is attached with 108 waterspouts to pour holy water. Moreover, pilgrims are supposed to take bath under each ancient tap. As this is a high-altitude temple situated on a high mountainous part so it should be visited during fair weather conditions.  

7. Manakamana

As indicated by the name in Devanagari Lipi (Man= Soul/heart, Kamana= wish/will).  Lord at Manakamana is famous for granting the wishes of devotees. It sits at an altitude of 3900 ft. offering stunning scenery of the Ganesh, Manaslu, and Annapurna mountain ranges, in Gorkha district. Every day hundreds of thousands of people make the journey via 2.8 km of Cable car ride from the bottom station at Kurintar to worship at Manakamana’s Bhagwati Mandir. Visiting Manakamana temple indeed is a true Nepali thing to do.

Manakamana

8. Sworgadwari

Sworgadwari is one of the religious and major pilgrimage sites of Nepal. This sacred place is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. It is one of the holy places of Nepal that has been mentioned in the Mahabharata . The name Swargadwari is a combination of two words. They are “Swarga” which means heaven and “Dwar” means door. Moreover, it is a crucial journey site for the Hindus. Sworgadwari is additionally well known for the Vedic Yagyan set up by Swami Shree Hansananda Giri Sworgadwari Mahaprabhu. Similarly, it is an absolute necessity to see the goal for Hindu pioneers. There is the Sworgadwari sanctuary. Many trusts that the Swargadwari Guru Maharaj was an incarnation of God. Legend has it that the ruler of all gods; Indra, had additionally played out a Yagyan in Satya Yuga at this place. 

Sworgadwari

This religious site is mainly packed with the devotees from Nepal as well as neighboring country India. Moreover, the spiritual energy surrounds this place, so the devotees who visit here feel the different energy at the temple premises.  It is believed that those who visit this temple can get rid of their sins and have a prosperous and happy life. Thousands of pilgrims visit this holy temple every year and it is one of the major religious sites for the Hindus. Similarly, on the way to the Swargadwari, there is a beautiful village called Masina Gaun.  

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