Nepal is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus as well as Buddhists. The landscape of the country is dotted with various Hindu and Buddhist temples and shrines. Some of the well known and important pilgrimage sites are:
Pashupatinath temple is a temple of Lord Shiva and is the holiest place for Hindus. The sacred temple lies on the banks of river Bagmati, 5 kms east of Kathmandu city. Non-Hindus are strictly prohibited from entering the temple. It has a two-tiered roof and four silver doors. Devotees from all over the world come here to pay their homage to Lord Shiva. The temple precinct is crowded with devotees especially during Shivratri (Shiva’s Night), celebrated during April / March and Teej which falls on August / September.
Boudhanath lies 8km east of Kathmandu. It was built by King Man Dev of the Licchavi dynasty in the 5th century A. D. Its massive and ancient stupa is regarded as one of the world’s biggest stupa and has been built on a stepped octagonal base. The stupa is surrounded by various temples or ‘gompas’. It is one of the prime sites for pilgrims and tourists in the country. Buddhists celebrate Buddha Jayanti (birth anniversary of Lord Buddha) on May with great pomp and show at this place.
Situated on a hill, in the western part of Kathmandu, the origin of Swayambhunath and Kathmandu is closely linked. Believed to have been discovered by BoddhisattvaManjushree, the place where Swayambunath presently stands was filled with lotus blossoms filled with light. The Kathmandu valley was a vast lake and Manjushree drained the lake to reach to the divine lotuses. Later a stupa was built and Swayanbhunath came into existence. Both Buddhists and Hindus regard Swayambhunath as a holy site. Swayambhunath also offers a majestic view of the entire Kathmandu valley.
Mankamana Temple lies 12km south of the historic town of Gorkha and is located on a prominent ridge (1302mt. above sea level) overlooking the river valley of Trishuli (South) and Marshyangdi (West). People believe that the Manakamana Devi fulfills the wishes of the devotees, and thus is called the wish fulfilling deity.
Muktinath, at an altitude of about 3800 meter, lies in Mustang district. Located about 18kms north-east of Jomsom, the Muktinath temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This sacred temple is situated on a high mountain range where devotees, travelers or trekkers often visit. It is believed that visiting this temple removes one’s sins.
Lumbini lies in the southern Terai plains of Nepal and is about 300 kilometers Southwest of Kathmandu. It is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha and is therefore regarded as a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Lumbini Garden, Maya Devi Temple, Tara Foundation, World Peace Pagoda, China Temple, Thai Monastery, Burmese (Myanmar) Temple, Nepal Buddha Temple and Dharmaswami Buddhist monastery are the major attractions of Lumbini. There is a museum and a research center for Buddhism.
Dakshinkali Temple is located 22kms south on the southern rim of the Kathmandu valley. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Worshippers often sacrifice animals on Tuesday and Saturday which is the most auspicious day to please the goddess.