Nepal, as much as it is known for its mountains and brave Gurkhas, it is equally renowned for one of the prominent Hindu and Buddhist Temples and Pilgrims in Asia. It is believed that there are 330 million gods and goddesses in Hindu religion but rest assured it is misinterpretation of Sanskrit word “koti” which means ‘class’ into ‘million’ thus making it such a ridiculous number. However, it is still uncertain on what is the exact number but surely it exceeds few hundreds. There are excessive number of temples throughout the whole nation but very prominent ones are listed below on our list of Top 10 Must Visit Temples in Nepal. Have a look !
Bajrayogini is much more of a temple complex located in Sankhu in Kathmandu Valley. It is a three-storied temple at the shore of Sali River. The statue of the Goddess herself is adorned in heavy ornaments as the Hindu Goddess of Wisdom of which Urga Tara is equavalent. It is one evident from this temple that Buddhism previaled in Nepal from around first century. This temple is sacred to both Hindu and Buddhists. Pilgrims take a dip in the holy river Sali and worship the Goddess.
Situated in the middle of the hilchowk of Vijaypur in Dharan, Dantakali temple is famous as the renowned place where a teeth of Sati Devi fell while Shiva was carrying his death body and roaming agony. Thus, giving its name ‘Danta’ meaning ‘teeth’ and ‘Kali’ as a form of Sati herself. Agonised by her death lord Shiva carried her deceased body over his shoulder dropping different parts of her body where great temples stand today. Thousands of pilgrims gather here during big festivals offering animal sacrifices to the diety.
8. Changunarayan Temple
Changunarayan Temple is a fine example of Nepalese medieval architecture. It is carved beatifully from wood and metal and holds great historical and religious importance in Hindu Culture. It has a very fascinting strory behind its origin as well and is marked today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated 8 miles east of Kathmandu in Bhaktapur atop a hill called Changu, it is where the temple gets its name from. Lord Bishnu is worshipped in this sacred place where it is believed her was accidentally freed from his curse by two humans beleiving he was devil and cutting down the tree where he lived. The intriguing story and marvelous artitechture makes this landmark a must visit temple in Nepal.
Located 14 miles south of the capital Kathmandu is the Dakshinkali Temple. It is devoted to most feared goddess “Kali” where twice a week, animal sacrifices are made by the pilgrims. It is believed that the Goddess protects the city from the south as “Dakshin” meaning “South”. It is said that Goddess herself appeared in a dream of a then King and demanded a temple to be built in that direction devoting it to her where her statue was also found.
On the way to the temple lies the famous Chobar Gorge where one can see distinct mark on a hill believed to be chopped off Bodhisattva Manjushri to drain out water from the Kathmandu Valley for human settlement. Dakshinkali temple is mostly crowded during the greatest Hindu festival Bijaya Dashami where people all over the country come to offer their sacrifice to the bloodthirsty diety.
6. Varaha Kchetra
Baraha Kchetra temple lies in the east of Nepal at the confluence of the Sapta Koshi and Koka rivers and is regarded as one of the most holy tirthas of Nepal. There are 5th century statues welcoming you at the front of the temple where the stone of sin lies. Whoever can lift the stone is set to be free of thier sins. It is believed that Lord Bishnu took the form of a white boar to bring the world from the bottom of the cosmic ocean after his victory of a demon name Hiranyaksha whom he battled for a thousand year.
With one of the most mysterious origination and legends surround the temple of Budhanilkantha. Budanilkantha resides at the bottom of Shivapuri mountain, 8 km from the Capital. It is 5 metre big carving of Lord Bishnu reclining on the coils of a cosmic 11 hoofed serpant over a natural spring. There are many speculations regarding its origin but the most fascinating one and which is also agreed upon by the locals is one story where the statue was discovered by a farmer ploughing his field when he accidentally chopped off a thumb from the giant sculpture and it started bleeding. It was ristricted from the view of the Royals due to some divine power preventing it to happen everytime it was attempted and it was said that the King would die instantly if it ever happened. Thus a smaller replica of the sculpture was made in Balaju for the Royal Family. It is a magnificient work or art carved on a black stone which is not found in that area so there are a lot of speculations on how such a massive boulder got there.
4. SWOMBHUNATH STUPA
One of the oldest religious sites of Nepal, Swayambhunath holds great respect among Hindu and Buddhist religion alike. Also known as the infamous “Monkey” Temple for the mischevious monkeys that inhabit the area, this ancient marvel stands atop a hill. It is said that the place was once filled with water where an enourmous lotus grew.It is called Swayambhu, meaning “Self-Created” since it was built over a self-existent eternal flame. The stupa consists of a dome at the base above which a cubical structure painted with the eyes of Buddha looking in all four directions. The structure holds a significant meaning. At the base there are 5 massive golden statues of Buddha. This is in fact a wonder of architecture standing 365 steep steps above the surface and a must visit place for anyone.
Manakamana is a Hindu Goddess and the temple is named upon it. ‘Mana’ meaning ‘heart’ and ‘kamana’ meaning ‘wish’, this temple is believed to fulfill wishes of the people who come here and offer animal sacrifises. The place was renowned for its hours, sometime a full day long journey to get there but now the Cable Cars have made this temple accessible to all ages within few minutes. Like any other Hindu temple this one has a mystery of its own regarding its origin but it is said it was build where a farmer accidentally hit a stone and blood an milk came out of it. Later it was declared as the reincarnation of a Goddess and built into a grand temple. Located 105 kilometers from kathmandu, there is rarely a living soul in Nepal who hasn’t visited this temple and the hotels and resorts that surround this famous tourist spot.
Situated at an altitude of 3,710 metres at the foot of the mountain Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang district of Nepal, it is one of the biggest religious and tourist attraction of the country. Held sacred for both Hindus and Buddhists, it is regarded as god or place of salvation. Many pilgrims and tourists make their way through gruesome and spectacular jouney to get here many submitting to altitude sickness and even casualty at some point.
The most significant Hindu Temple of Lord Shiva in the world, the temple of Pashupatinath is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The name itself means, Lord of the Animals and is overpopulated with monkeys who live in harmony with the locals. It is a grand establishment situated on the banks of Bagmati River. The temple is one of the Paadal Petra Sthalams (Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent). Hindus alone are allowed to enter the temple premises while others can only observe from the other bank of the river. There are different hypothesis regarding its origin which only deepens the mystery. The one most thrilling is the statue of ‘kali’, the biggest sinner who married his own mother and thus cursed by gods to remain as a stone statue underneath the surface. It is believed that the statue rises itself from the ground as the sins in the world increase and once it fully surfaces it will mark the end of creation. The last time i checked it was halfway up but its not too long before we can see the whole statue standing if we believe the legend. The temple is at its limit of worshippers in the time of Mahashivaratri where Hindu pilgrims from all over the world come to pay their respect here.