Shivaratri, also known as Maha Shivaratri, is one of the greatest festivals of Hindu devotees throughout the world. Literally, the word Shivaratri is composed of the two Nepali words ‘Shiva’ and ‘Ratri’; ‘Shiva’ is name of Hindu God and ‘Ratri’ means night. According to legends, the day is supposed to be the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parbati. Pashupatinath (The Hindu Temple) is supposed to be visited by a couple thousands of devotees on the single day of the festival.
If you are in Nepal during the festival, then I highly recommend you to visit the Temple of Pashupatinath. Generally Shivaratri falls on the month of February. India and Mauritius are two other countries celebrating this festival locally. Thousands of devotees and sadhu flock come to Nepal almost a week before the festival and set tent on the temple premises. This year it was on Feb 17th and couple of my friends made a plan to be in Pashupatinath for celebration. This was my second time at Pashupatinath on the day of Maha Shivaratri.
We had decided to be there in main entrance, next to bus station, not late than 11:00 am. But, because of high flow of traffic regular entire for four wheelers was diverted. Including me all of my friends walked around thirty minutes to reach the prefixed venue. There was a long queue to enter and we were not ready for that cause’ it looked like we need to spend couple of hours waiting on a queue. Being local, we had an idea about secondary entrance towards temple and we decided to give a try for next to nothing. We had tried almost two or three entrances but our attempts were unsuccessful. There was a broken fence and people were jumping inside, but when we reached over the fence, police had already taken the situation under control. We were walking around to find a loophole under high security. It was so hard to manage entry for five of us. Luckily, there was no security and no queue, we ran there and entered, finally yes! we made an entry. It looked like the entire territory was sprayed with cannabis flavor. We could see people sitting on a group of four to five and smoking weeds. You could see people stoned with marijuana. I felt like, if Bob Marley was alive and attended this festival, he would have loved it. I almost spent whole day next to temple premises and observed the festival and serenity. Here are lists five of things that you should do in Pashupatinath on the day of Maha Shivaratri.
Table of Content
- 1. Find entrance on the backend of Temple, No need to stay on long queue and you can save couple of hours
- 2. Watch Sadhus smoking weeds and doing meditation
- 3. Buy a weed and smoke or just simply ask for couple of puffs
- 4. Find free food after you finish smoking, yes free foods not free weeds
- 5. Take care of your belonging valuables and watch out for friends
1. Find entrance on the backend of Temple, No need to stay on long queue and you can save couple of hours
You don’t want to stand on a long queue to enter temple area, right? If you want you can otherwise, ask anyone for “Guheshwori Area” and head towards it. Basically, it is on northwest part of main entrance to the Temple. Pass by big police station and take a right turn. Continue until you find left downhill trail. You will definitely see a long queue there too. Continue downhill and you will find queue bend towards right. Now you follow left and pass by Bagmati River. Cross the first bridge you find and continue ahead. Soon you will find stone steps and entry gate. Congratulation!! Now hike up and follow downhill stones stair to reach main temple premises. Although you can’t go inside temple using this route, just enjoy the view of temple and crowd. Choose suitable place to sit either on right or left of staircase.
2. Watch Sadhus smoking weeds and doing meditation
Today weed is legal to smoke, especially on temple sites. There are lots of Sadhus settled temporarily on small huts. Most of them manage to burn firewood. They are seen busy preparing weeds to smoke.
You can enjoy watching their activities. After smoking, they stay on certain yoga pose and spends hours like that.
Don’t stay too close to sadhus because sometimes when they feel disturbed by crowds they throw ashes in air to distract crowd. It’s better to stay at least couple of feet far from those holy sadhus.
3. Buy a weed and smoke or just simply ask for couple of puffs
Don’t get surprised when you see a lot of sadhus acting as a vendor to sale marijuana. You can buy with most of them. They will charge you around USD 0.2 to USD 1 for weeds. If you give them cigarettes or paper roll, they can prepare for you with additional service charge. If you don’t want to smoke by buying on bulk then simply ask for couple of puffs and pay them little bit. This is more safe idea than buying in a bulk and carrying along with you. If you are in big group and thinking of buying in bulk, then better taste a one whether it’s of good quality or not cause’ weeds once sold will not be returned and you can’t complain to anyone that someone sold you bad quality weeds.
4. Find free food after you finish smoking, yes free foods not free weeds
Are you hungry now?
There are free food stalls waiting for you on next bank of river. Access is not easy though. You have to pass through heavy queue of devotees on one place before you get access to free food stalls. I will help you on pointing toward right direction. Descend to riverbank and turn left. You can see many crossing river walking through water but it’s a bit dirty. Stick to riverbank and follow herds of people.
On your right you will see dam made up of stone and net. There is small gap in dam you can easily jump to next side. (Remember if you leave riverbank and follow right you will exit and need to make entry again from very beginning phase). Follow left after you reach next bank. Now you can see long queue of devotees and you have to pass through middle of queue. This is toughest part to gain access to free foods. There are lots of volunteers managing the queue and they won’t let you do that.
May be you can request people standing on queue. If that doesn’t work then tit for tat, just wait for suitable moment. When entire queue is moving ahead you might find a loophole to pass next side. Find a suitable place and wait for perfect moment. If you manage to reach next side then food is waiting for you. There will be lots of stalls with varieties of foods and drinks.
5. Take care of your belonging valuables and watch out for friends
If you are walking in a group, be careful as you or your friends can easily get missed on crowd. It will be hard to find misplaced friend. Always walk together. Pay high attention for your valuable stuffs like wallet, mobile or camera. If you are trying to setup tripod for photography or videography, try avoiding main walking trail cause crowds sometime get easily distracted and go out of control. There is lost and found section, if your friend get misplaced you can announce through speakers to pass your voice message, ask police for the help.
And last but not the least; wear comfortable shoes instead of flip-flop and fancy boots.