Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Religious Places of Nepal


Gosainkunda:

A lake is believed to have been created by Lord Shiva when he thrust his Trisula (trident) into a mountain to extract water so that he could cool his stinging throat of the lake, which is said to be the remains of a Shiva shrine. People often claim that they see Shiva lying in the water. Devotees gather here in hordes on the full moon night of August to take holy dips in the lake Gosaikunda is situated at the altitude of 4380 m t. to the north of Kathmandu on the Lang tang trekking trail. The holy lake is a two daylong trek from Dhunche, which can be reached through an adventurous 118 km mountain road from Kathmandu via Trisuli Bazaar. Small hotels and pilgrim shelters are available here for travelers.

Manakamana:


The Temple of manakamana, a very popular pilgrimage in Nepal, is a temple of one of the manifestations of the Hindu goddess Bhagawati. Bhagawati is belived to have the power to fulfill wishes. It lies 125 km to the west of kathmandu. It is a steep three- hour hile from Abu Khairenion the Kathmandu-Gorkha highway. A cable car also takes travelers to manakamana.

Janakpur:
Janakpur is the capital of the ancient state of Mithila and the Janaki Temple, located in the center of the city, is well known in the Hindu Kingdom. Sita the wife of the legendary hero Ram was born in Janakpur. Throughout the year, many pilgrims come to pay their respects to Ram and Sita who are the main religious attractions in Janakpur. The city is thronged by worshippers and visitors alike especially during the festival of Bibah Panchami. This annual festival is celebrated on the occasion of Ram and Sita's marriage and their wedding ceremony is enacted throughout the week. During this period, the city is enlivened by the wedding festivities.

Ram and Sita (Janaki) are the two central characters of the great Hindu epic Ramayan. In the story, Ram strings a bow that originally belonged to Lord Shiva the Destroyer and in the process, the bow breaks into three pieces. One piece flies up to heaven. Another falls down into the depths of the underworld. Today, there is a huge pond called Dhanush Sagar above the very spot. The third piece flies to present day Dhanushadham, about 40 kilometers from Janakpur. There, visitors will see huge rocks shaped liked a bow. Thus, after Ram's successful attempt to string the bow, Janaki's father, King Janak gives his daughter's hand in marriage to the brave prince of Ayodhya.

Muktinath: 
The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is situated about 18 kilometers northeast of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 meters. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather.

Simraunaghad:
The capital of the former kingdom of Tirahut, is the seat of a rich civilization, which peaked between the 11th and 14th centuries. The ancient city suffered terrible devastation in the hands of invaders but its cultural glory remained in the archeological treasures that are found here. They’re many Hindu temples that draw people to this place in large numbers. Simraunghadh is situated in the Terai plains to the south of Kathmandu. The most convenient access to this place, by air, is from Birgunj (270 Km away from Kathmandu). Another route to Simraugadh is a Flight to Simara (15 minutes) and then a drive to Birgunj (25 km) from where it is 45 km to simraughad.

Balmiki Asharm:
The Balmaki Ashram is situated in the forest on the banks of the Terbeni river, at the southwestern corner of the Royal Chitwan National park. It was a retreat used by the great Hindu sage, Balmaki. This is where Sita is sad to have live with her two sons, Labha and Kusha, after separation from Rama. Various statues were unearthed in this area during an archeological excavation in the late 60's. Recently, a Temple of Sita has been built here.

Varahakshetra:
Varahakshetra, located at the confluence of the Saptakoshi and Kaka rivers, is 20 km away from a town in eastern Nepal - Dharan. Varahakshetra is among the four great Hindu pilgrimages. Here, the boar-Varaha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is sald to have a said to have killed demon Hiranakshaya. Apart from the main shrine dedicated to Varaha, there are many other temple with images of the Varaha is Varahakshetra. Every year on the first of Magh (November), a religious fare takes place here.

Devghat:
Devghat is situated 6 km to the north of Narayanghat, the gateway to the Royal Chitwan National Park. On the day of the Makar Sakranti festival in January pilgrims come here to take holy dips in the Narayani, formed by the meeting of the kali Gandaki and Trisuli. There is a settlement of a community of elderly, retired people here. Davghat can be reached by taking a daily flight or bus services.

Dhanushadham:
A historical and religious site, dates back to the time of the great epic- Ramayana. It is located 18 km northeast of janakpur in the south central region of Nepal. Dhanushadham was the place where Lord Rama had broke Shiva's divine bow, a condition for winning the hand of Sita in marriage. According to the epic, one of the three pieces of the bow fell in the present day Dhanushadham.

Ridi:
Ridi is among the most popular religious places in Nepal. Rikeshwor narayan Mandir, situated here, is the local version of the Pashupatinath temple with its auspicious Ghats (cremation grounds). It is situated at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and the Ridi Khola, linked by a 50 km dirt road to the hill resort town of Tansen.
During the Makar Sankranti Festival, hundreds of devotees from different parts of the world throng the Dhanusha temple to worship the fossilized bow fragments and to take ritual dips in the river. Here, thee are other temples dedicated to Devendra and Ganesh too.

Lumbibni:
Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site located in Rupandehi District, Lumbini Zone of Nepal. It the place where Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama who later became a Buddha(Gautama Buddha), and founded the religion of Buddhism. Gautama Buddha lived between approximately 563 BCE and 483 BCE. For Buddhists, this is one of the four main pilgrimage sites based around the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, and Sarnath. Lumbini is located 25kms east of the municipality of Kapilavastu, the place where the Buddha grew up and lived up to the age of 29. Kapilvastu is the name of place as well as the neighbouring district. Lumbini has various Buddhist temples including the Mayadevi temple and many which are presently (2007) under construction. There is also the Puskarini pond and remains of Kapilvastu palace in Lumbini. There are other sites near Lumbini where, according to Buddhist tradition, previous Buddha were born and achieved enlightenment and died.

Pashupatinath Temple:
Pashupati Nath is considered one of the holiest shrines of all the Hindu temples. It is 6km. east of downtown Kathmandu. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty. The two tier magnificient golden temple, with four triple silver doorways, is a unique example of the Nepalese temple architecture. It is one of the largest Hindu temple complexes in South-Asia with hundreds of Shiva Lingam shrines and icons Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The temple is spread out over a large area.
The main entrance, for Hindu people only, is on the western side. Tourists may peak inside, or go on the other side of the river to have a glimpse of the temple complex from above. During the festival of Shivaratri (February – March) 10,000's of devotees and pligrims (many from India) visit this temple and make  ceremonial fires.

Changunarayan Temple:
Situated on a small hillock overlooking the Kathmandu Valley, this temple is 12km. east of Kathmandu. The temple is decorated with magnificent art works in metal and wood. This famous temple was built in the 3rd century A.D. An inscription opposite the temple tells about a historic event which  is the first epigraphic evidence of Nepali history.

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