City Travel – Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu
The Nepal diary.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The devotees were sitting on the stone stairs in groups of families and friends — some were talking to each other, others were quiet. They were looking down at the Bagmati, which was rushing down in gentle fury. Naked boys were swimming in the sacred river. A dead body was being prepared for cremation. While the evening sun was casting its golden rays on the pagoda-like spire of the Pashupatinath Temple. Here Shiv is worshipped as Pashupati, the lord of the beasts.
The Delhi Walla was in Kathmandu.
The Nepal capital is unlike Delhi. It has many ancient temples, and only two mosques. There is hardly any garbage on the streets.
The day before I went to see Kumari, the living Goddess, at her establishment in Durbar Square. Every evening at four she appears for a daily audience with tourists. The girl was about seven, looked playful and was busy sucking a toffee. The window-sighting lasted a minute.
In Thamel, the city’s hotel district, I saw a great number of Chinese tourists – all were stylishly dressed. The area has many bookstores. The most legendary – Pilgrims Book House – recently burned down and has burnt books on sale. The bookshop’s walls are decked with the black and white portraits of King Birendera and his wife Queen Aishwarya. In 2001, their son, crown prince Dipendra, killed his parents along with seven other members of the royal family. He later turned the gun on himself.
The royal family was cremated on the banks of Bagmati in Pashupatinath Temple. Sitting on the stairs, my Nepalese friend told me, “Prince Dipendra was a very good man. He was not a murderer. It’s a lie.”
Close to us sat three ‘photo-me’ sadhus who were letting tourists take their photos for Rs 10.
Soon, the evening arti began after which everyone stood up to say, ‘Har Har Mahadev’. An instant later, it began to rain.
The land of Pashupatinath