Spiritual Tourism In Nepal
Nepal and spirituality have a very intimate relation with each other. Spirituality defines the very existence of this beautiful country that resides on the lap of the Himalayas. Though previously a Hindu country and now a secular country, Nepal has come a long way ahead both politically and spiritually. Spirituality is the first and foremost attribute to help mark Nepal in the global tourism map. Nepal as country is an amalgamation of diverse religious beliefs and practices, cultural engagements and spirituality. One can embark on a spiritual journey in Nepal as Nepal is home to century old practices of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, cultural practices and religious practices. Nepal widely follows Hinduism and Buddhism as religions but other religions and religious beliefs are also practiced freely. You can sense the spiritual side of Nepal the minute you arrive. Be it the aroma of incense lightened at the temples, the colorful prayer flags strung along the surroundings of Buddhist shrines or the decorative mandalas outside the newari localities.
Come embark on this spiritual journey in exploring yourself and Nepal.
Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu
Situated at the bank of Bagmati river amidst the hustle and bustle of the city is Pashupatinath temple. Pashupatinath temple is listed as the UNESCO World Cultural heritage site since 1979. Pashupatinath with two tired golden roofs and four silver doors is the temple of Hindu god “Lord Shiva”. Since the temple holds a very high significance for Hindu pilgrims, every year tens of thousands of people visit pashupatinath for pilgrimage. At the banks of Bagmati one can also observe the cremation taking place in accordance with the Hindu rituals. While on the other side of the temple, Bagmati Aarati is carried out every evening which is also a spectacle on its own. One can experience the confluence of life and death being submerged into the divine in Pashupatinath Temple. During Maha Shiva Ratri, Pashupatinath Temple visited by number of people.
Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu
Swayambhunath is perched on top of a hill on the western edge of Kathmandu valley. The ancient Swayambhunath stupa is also known to tourists as monkey temple due to hundreds of monkeys around the stupas surrounding. As it is atop the hill the stupa can be seen from all across Kathmandu valley. Once you are up climbing some 300 plus steep stone stairs you get a great aerial view of Kathmandu valley. Swayambhunath is one of the highly revered Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu. A large number of Buddhists and Hindus alike visit swayambhunath to pay homage. One can experience peace and harmony whilst submerging self in the serenity of the stupas premise.
Lumbini- Birthplace of the Buddha
Lumbini is the most sacred shrine for Buddhists around the world because they regard Lumbini to be the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. Tourists flood in all year round in lumbini to pray, meditate and pay homage to Buddha. The exact spot where Buddha was born is inside Mayadevi temple which dates back to 2,200 years. There are also many beautiful monasteries built by countries all around the world like Srilanka, China, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, Germany, France etc. The moment you set foot here the emanation surrounding this place connects to you spiritually. A huge group of people may be roaming around observing the place whilst a monk meditates seated under a tree or by the gardens indifferent with the presence of anyone or anything around him.
Situated at the altitude of 4,380m (14,370ft) Gosaikunda is an alpine freshwater lake in Langtang. Gosaikunda according to Hindu mythology is considered as abode of Hindu Gods Shiva and Gauri. So during the festival of Janai purnima which falls on full moon day on the month of August a large number of Hindus visit Gosaikunda for holy bath and pay homage to lord Shiva. Shaman culture can also be observed on this day. The Shamans (Dhami or Jhakri) from almost all the parts of Nepal trek to Gosaikunda performing spiritual songs and dances and perform the ancient rites. Trek to Gosainkunda is an amazing experience as you get to see lush greens, Himalayan range, lakes with glaciers and beautiful breathtaking scenarios.
Muktinath Temple is located at the altitude of 3710m enveloped by snowcapped mountains in Mustang district. This temple holds equal significance to both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. The temple according to Hindus is the temple of Lord Vishnu because according to Hindu mythology it was here that he got salvation from a curse whereas, the Buddhists regard this place as the place their guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) came to meditate. There are 108 water spouts inside the temple premises known as Mukti Dhara where the chilly waters from Gandaki flows. It is believed to bring salvation to those who bathe under all these 108 spouts. During trek to Muktinath one can observe unique terrain, rich cultures and experience reverie as the surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful letting you connect deeply within self and nature. Immersing oneself deep in nature allows connecting with oneself on a deeper and spiritual level by doing Muktinath Trekking.
Living Goddess Kumari
Regarded as the living goddess, a young Newari prepubescent girl from Shakya or Bajracharya clan is chosen by special and extremely strict selection process to represent as goddess kumari. This tradition was started by a Malla king back in 17th century. Goddess kumari resides at Kumari ghar in Kathmandu durbar square. The young girls once they reach puberty are then replaced by another chosen one. Every year during late August or early September, in the festival of Indra Jatra goddess kumari is bought out on a chariot from the kumari ghar and the chariot is pulled through the small alleys of old Kathmandu. People form a procession, there is masked dancers known as Lakhey who dance as homage to goddess kumari to make her happy. The worship of a human represents the recognition of the supreme in a conscious being just as worshipping an idol represents the existence of supreme in inanimate materials.
If spirituality is your goal then travelling to Nepal to attain spirituality can be the ideal choice.