PASHUPATINATH (pronounced Pash-patty-nat) is where they burn the bodies in the open. But it is, of course, much more besides. Crammed up against the mouth of a ravine, 4km east of central Kathmandu and just beyond the Ring Road, it also straddles a tirtha, or sacred crossroads and is Nepal’s holiest Hindu pilgrimage site, a smoky and stirring melee of temples, statues, pilgrims and half-naked holy men.

The entire complex overflows with pilgrims from all over the subcontinent during the wild festival of Shiva Raatri (held on the full moon of Feb–March), which commemorates Shiva’s tandava dance of destruction, according to some, or his drinking of blue poison to save the gods (see “Old Blue-Throat”), according to others. Devout locals also come for special services on full moon days and on the eleventh lunar day (ekadashi) after each full and new moon.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Nepal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

"The only thing you could focus on was the fact that the earth was moving from side to side by about eight to ten metres." These are the words of Kathmandu resi…

07 Jun 2016 • Lottie Gross videocam Video
Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Every year, Hindus around the world celebrate Holi Festival: the festival of colours. The event attracts many non-Hindus to take part, too, with hundreds of p…

24 Mar 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
Going it alone on the Annapurna Base Camp trek

Going it alone on the Annapurna Base Camp trek

Rough Guides writer Helen Abramson discovers the ups and downs of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal – all without the help of a porter or guide.  Someth…

13 Mar 2015 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month