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026 / Visitors at Pashupatinath Temple

An intensely atmospheric place, Pashupatinath is Nepal's most revered Hindu shrine. It sits in a forest just outside central Kathmandu, straddling a series of ghats on both sides of the Bagmati river. The centrepiece here is a golden pagoda, housing a rare image of Shiva as Pashupati, the lord of the beasts. Around it are countless smaller shrines that tumble down to the riverfront, where a series of funeral pyres burn day and night. Tourists jostle with sadhus, pilgrims, and the bereaved, while the smell of flowers, incense, and sweetmeats mingles with the stench of dead bodies and burning pyre-wood. It is as if the complex is an embodiment of the deity - a living example of the life-death continuum.

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