“Heaven is myth; Nepal is real”
Nepal, a secular country amid India and China, is the home of 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Nepal was declared as a secular nation on 15th Jan 2007; however, 81.3% majority are still Hindus. The existing numerous temples, monasteries, churches and mosques show religious tolerance and the sense of unity in diversity in Nepal. Nepal is one of the best destinations for the tourists who dream to travel mythical nation in economical budget. Here is the list of religious places one must visit during tour.
Pashupatinath temple is the oldest and the most sacred Hindu temple of lord Shiva situated on the bank of Bagmati River in Kathmandu. The history of this temple dated back to 400 B.C. which was erected and renovated time to time by previous rulers of Nepal. This temple was inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage site’s list in 1979 A.D. due to its overwhelming architectural design.
This temple is rebuilt in the Nepalese pagoda style with golden roof whose four doors are silver coated. There are many mythical legendary sayings about this temple. Pashupatinath temple is the main God of Hindus therefore non-Hindus are forbidden to enter inside this temple; one can take a glimpse of cremation and rituals from opposite bank of river. It is the nearest temple to airport and 6 km east of the capital, Kathmandu.
Swoyambhunath, situated on a small hillock in Kathmandu, is one of the holiest religious sites of Buddhists. It is believed that swoyambhu came into existence from a lotus flower after a Bodhisattva, Manjushree, cut a George at Chovar; therefore, Swoyambhu means “self created”. The site has two access points: a long stairway with 365 steps, and a car road around the hill. The dome shaped Buddhist chaitya signifies the world and the eyes on each of the four sides represent wisdom and compassion. This religious site symbolizes peace, love and unity among the people.
Lumbini: Lumbini, the sacred birth place of Gautama Buddha is the pride of our nation. Lumbini was designated as UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 after a German archeologist rediscovered the Ashoka’s pillar which had been lost for thousand years. Lumbini is the most sacred place for Buddhist pilgrims across the world but visitors from any religious background can visit this place. It takes 10 hours drive from Kathmandu and 30 min flight from TIA to Bhairahawa airport to reach Lumbini.
Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhist situated at 3710m altitude in Mustang, Nepal. Muktinath is a place of salvation for Hindus whereas Buddhists consider this place as hundred waters. The main shrine of Muktinath is a pagoda shaped temple dedicated to lord Vishnu. Behind the temple, there are 108 waterspouts, known as “Muktidhara” where devotees take bath to achieve salvation. To reach at Muktinath, either take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then fly to Jomsom or take a jeep to Ranipauwa near to Muktinath.
Gosaikunda: Gosaikunda is a famous religious place located at an altitude of 4830m in Rasuwa, Nepal. It has a holy lake which is believed to be created by Lord Shiva by his trisul to quench his thrust after he swallowed poison. This lake remains frozen for six months. During the full moon of August, Many devotees visit this lake and take bath to wash out their sins. No road route is available to reach Gosaikunda; one must walk for two days from Dhunche which will be pleasurable for trekking lovers. Gosaikunda is the most preferred trekking destinations of adventurous expedition.
Janaki temple: Janakpur is famous for religious and cultural tourism due to Ram-Janaki temple, a hindu temple of Goddess Sita. This temple is also known as “Nau lakh mandir” as the cost to build this temple in 1898 was 9 lakh. It is three-storied sixty rooms structured with the height of 50m and covers an area of 4,806 sq. feet. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from India, Sri Lanka and other countries visit to worship lord Ram and Goddesses Sita.
Manakamana:Manakamana is one of the famous religious temples since Hindus believe that their wish will be fulfilled after the visit of this shrine. The name originated from two words “Mana” means “Heart” and “Kamana” signifies “wishes”. One has to travel by cable-car from Kurintar to reach this temple. It is 140 km from Kathmandu and 12 km south of Gorkha town.
Changunarayan: Changunarayan, situated on hill-top of Bhaktapur, is a fine example of Nepalese medieval architecture. Changunarayan temple is believed as the oldest temple of Nepal so it is marked as one of the UNESCO world heritage sites which hold great historical and religious importance in Hindu culture. The legend of Changunarayan says that lord Vishnu was accidentally freed from curse by two humans.
Budhanilkantha:Budhanilkantha, situated at the bottom of the Shivapuri mountain, 8 km from capital, is a temple of Lord Vishnu. This place is a holy place of both Buddhist and Hindus. The main attraction of this temple is 5 meter long reclining statue of lord Vishnu on the coils of Sheshanaga which floats on a sacred pond. The legend says that the statue was discovered by a farmer who discovered it while ploughing his filed. It is believed that the king would die with a glimpse of this statue, so no king of Nepal has ever visited this temple yet.
Bhaleshwor Mahdev temple:Bhaleshwor Mahadev temple, situated at the hilltop of Chandragiri is one of the popular religious places in Kathmandu. The legend says that Satidevi’s forehead was fallen at this place while Shiva was wandering unconsciously by carrying her immolated body on his shoulder. To access at this place, one can take a local bus from Godam, Thankot to Chandragiri Hills or can travel through cable-car which is 2.5 km from Godam, Thankot. Lord Shiva grants tranquility and blessing to the pilgrim whoever visits this temple to worship.