Himalayan AdventureCultural Tour in Nepal

January 16, 2020by Bhagwat Simkhada0

Cultural Tour in Nepal explores the amazing architectural beauty and historical dexterity of the medieval towns and villages. These trips visit cultural monuments and historical heritages. Nepal has one of the densest concentrations of World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO in the world housing seven such destinations. Moreover, Nepal is also the land where Lord Gautama Buddha- the founder of Buddhism, was born.

Nepal is filled with many remnants and temples from its ancient and medieval eras. These heritages reflect Nepal’s historical significance and riches in many forms. From religious temples like the Pashupatinath, the Boudhanath, and the Muktinath, to old Durbar Squares like that of the Kathmandu city, Patan and Bhaktapur, Nepal is quite opulent in terms of culture and the preservation of ethnic practices that span back centuries.

Not only that, but Nepal is also the hub of the unique Newa Architecture- an intricate form of building not found anywhere else on the planet. Nepalese art and architectural styles are laced with some of the most intricate handiwork. The beautiful carvings done on the roofs, pillars, doors and the windows of the temples and old buildings reflect a beautiful and unique presentation of art and culture.

The woodwork, stone masonry, and metalwork engrained in the heritage buildings and temples reflect the cultural semblance of the people’s lives. Tours in Nepal allow travelers to experience the cultural aspect of the country. These short journeys are insightful trips that explore the glorious heritage and cultural riches of the diverse ethnic groups in Nepal.

Pashupatinath Temple:

Pashupatinath temple is one of the four most important Hindu religious temples in Nepal & India for devotees of Lord Shiva. Temple was Built-in the 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings of Kathmandu valley, the site itself is said to have existed from the beginning of the millennium when a Shiva lingam was discovered on the bank of the Bagmati river. Lord Shiva, the national God, is worshipped in Nepal in the form of the Shiva Linga. It is said that there are 12 Jyotirlinga in India. It is said that twelve Jyotirlinga in India are the body and the Jyotirlinga at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu is the head.

The most worshipped and important Shiva Lingam (linga) to Hindus is situating at the bank of Bagmati River in the holy shrine of Pashupatinath to the east of Kathmandu. In front of Shiva temples, one usually sees a statue of Nandi, the diving bill. Another popular form of Shiva in Nepal is the Bhirav. Different aspects of Bhairavs play a major role in the Kathmandu valley’s festivals’. Basically, Bhairav is worshipped as the protector of the valley and the anger form of Shiva.

According to Gopalraj Vamsavali (Chronicle), Nepa, the herdsman, his brown cow- Buhibri, used to go to the bank of Bagmati River where she pours her milk every day in a hole. After finding the location when it was dogged the Jyotirlinga came to the presence.

This temple complex was enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage site’s list in 1979. Pashupatinath temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It is not known when the Pashupatinath temple was built. According to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, Pashupatinath Temple’s existence dates back to 400B.C. The temple was erected in today’s form in the 15th century by Lichhavi King Shupuspa after the previous building was consumed by termites.

Muktinath Temple:

Muktinath is a popular Temple in Nepal.  According to the Hindu principle, it is believed that Lord Vishnu, will incarnate the earth ten times as a different incarnation or avatar. He has incarnated as Matsya (a fish) Kurma(a tortoise) Varaha (a wild boar) Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki (will be incarnated at the end of Kali-yuga) His animal incarnations are fish, tortoise and a wild boar thus Hindus worship those animals as an incarnation of Lord Bishnu.

All the Hindus and the people who believe in rebirth, Pre-birth, and Mukti ( Nirvana) believed that all miseries/ sorrows are relieved once you visit the temple (Mukti means Nirvana and Nath means god). The famous temple Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang’s popular Annapurna circuit Trek trails, after passing the Throng-La pass from Manang and Annapurna region and is situated about 18 km from Jomsom Town and 13.5 km from the Kagbeni at an altitude of about 3,749 m. It is not only popular for Pilgrimage tours but popular for foreigners for trekking where you can see the amazing view of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Tukuche Peaks. It is also called the rain shadow district of Nepal only a few showers of rain during the monsoon season so all parts of the area are dry and sandy.

It is a pagoda-shaped (storied) temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There are 108 waterspouts, with holy water, people take bath. Jal Devi temple where you can see the fire lighting itself (Natural gas)on the water. Religious people believe that this flame is since the creation of this universe or from the Satya Yuga. There are different ways to get to Muktinath from Kathmandu. Either take a direct from Kathmandu via Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for 5-6 hours via Kagbeni or to trek all the way from Pokhara which talked 7-8 days or there is a direct bus service from Kathmandu to Muktinath.

It is believed that one should visit this temple after completing Pilgrimages of four Dham ( Badrika Nath Dham, Dwarka Dham, Jagganath Puri Dham, Rameswaram Dham) in India. It is said that Jagat Guru Shankaracharya had established this temple. It is the sacred temple for South Indians to pay priority to visit the temple.

This temple is the symbol of Hindu- Buddhist religious syncretism. The main priest of the temple is Hindu and the caretaker the Jhumas are the Buddhists. Hindus worship the God Muktinath as an incarnation of Vishnu whereas Buddhist worship it as Guru Rimpoche.

Changunarayan Temple:

Changunarayan temple is located on the high hilltop Changu or Dolagiri Parbat (hill). The temple was enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s list. The temple is surrounded by a champak tree forest and a small town. Changunarayan Temple is about 12 km east of Kathmandu and a bit north of Bhaktapur. This is a temple of Lord Narayan, double roofed, and is considered to be one of the oldest temples of the Lichhavi periods. The temple is decorated with ten incarnations of the Narayan. Stone lions guard all four doors of the temple.

There is an inscription stone behind the statue of Manadeva of 464 A.D. The inscription provides important information of the Licahavvi dynasty, the then history of Kathmandu valley, and chronology of Lichhavi King before and after Man Deva. There are smaller statues of King Bhupatindra Malla and his queen. To the north of the temple is the statue of old Vishnu seated on a Garuda. The sculpture dates back to the 9th century. It dates back to 464 A.D. Another statue shows Vishnu as Vikrant/ Vamana, the six-armed dwarf who later transformed into a giant. To the side of these images is a small black slab showing a 10 headed and 10 armed Vishnu. The beautifully carved image is around 1500 years old.

There are many legends about the temple. In ancient times, a Gwala, or cow herder, had brought a cow from a Brahmin named Sudarshan. The cow was known for producing large quantities of milk. The Gwala used to take the cow to Changunarayan for grazing. At that time Changunarayan was a forest of Champak trees. While grazing, the cow always went to the shade of a particular tree. In the evening, when the Gwala took the cow home and started milking her, he got only a very small amount of milk. This continued for several days. He grew very sad, so he called on the Brahmin saying the cow was not giving enough milk. After observing this with his own eyes, Sudarshan agreed with the Gwala they should observe the cow’s daytime activity while she was grazing in the forest.

Brahmin and Gwala both hide behind the tree. To their surprise, a small black boy came out of the tree and started drinking cow milk. The two men were furious because they thought the boy must be the devil and the tree must be its home. So the Brahmin cut down the champak tree. When he was cutting it down, fresh human blood came out of the tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala got worried, believing they had committed a great crime, and began to cry. Lord Vishnu emerged from the tree and told the Brahmin and Cowherd it was not their fault. Vishnu told the story of how he killed Sudarshan’s father while hunting in the forest. After that, cursed for the crime, he wandered the earth on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ eventually descending on the hill at Changunarayan.

There he lived in anonymity, surviving on milk stolen from a cow. When Brahmin cut down the tree, Vishnu was beheaded this freed Lord Vishnu from his sins. After hearing these words from Vishnu, Brahman and Gwala resolved to worship the place and established a small temple in the name of Lord Vishnu. Even today, we find Sudarshan’s descendant as a priest of the temple and the Gwala’s descendants as ghutiyars (conservators).