Situated around the Pashupatinath Temple, the Guhyeshwari Temple is considered to be a Shakti Peeth (symbol of Shakti) and a beautiful representation of the unity of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti.
Guhyeshwari Temple is a 7th-century pilgrimage center for Hindus and Buddhists, especially for Tantric worship. Dedicated to Guhyeshwari or Adi Shakti, this temple is one of the most important temples in the Pashupatinath region.
The name of the temple is derived from the Sanskrit words “Guha” and “Ishwari”, meaning goddess of the cave. Built-in the rich pagoda style during the Lichchavi period, the Guhyeshwari temple is the place where both the knees of Sati Devi, the wife of Lord Shiva, fell after her death. In the temple, Sati is worshiped as Mahamaya, while Lord Shiva is worshiped as Kapali.
The main temple of Mata Ji is built in the central part of the courtyard of the huge temple building. In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, a 5-feet long 10-foot-wide pavilion of silver has been made. In which Mata Peeth is established. The idols of the eight goddesses are installed separately in brass. There are nine small silver gates around the courtyard. The main temple gate is silver.
Pashupatinath and Guhyeshwari Temple
Lord Shiva and Sati Devi, the immense power and spiritual soul, are worshiped as one of the most powerful deities in Hinduism. Pashupatinath temple and Guhyeshwari temple were built by the Lichchavi kings.
Pashupatinath is one of the most important temples of Lord Shiva in the whole world and it has also been included in UNESCO heritage site in 1979. It is further considered to be the oldest temple of Lord Shiva; the exact date of its construction is unknown. Although the exact period of the temple’s existence is unknown, the site was reconstructed when a Shiva lingam was discovered by the Malla kings in the Pashupathi region. Situated in Kathmandu, Pashupatinath Temple has other shrines and holy shrines around the area built in the joy of Lord Shiva, Sati Devi, and other deities.
There is a beautiful story associated with the origin of Pashupatinath, which says that the temple was built as a representation of Lord Shiva, who lives in the form of a deer with Goddess Parvati in the Kathmandu region. But the story behind the origin of the Gayeshwari Temple is associated with the death of Sati Devi, the beloved wife of Lord Shiva.
Devotees who visit the entire Pashupati area first receive their worship from the Guhyeshwari Temple, i.e. Shakti, and then enter the main temple of Pashupatinath and visit other temples in the vicinity. This tradition of visiting Guhyeshwari before any other temple is still followed by the royal family. First of all, Guhyeshwari is worshipped as Shakti and is believed to be worshiped before Shiva. Shiva and Shakti are incomplete without each other; Nevertheless, Shakti is worshiped in front of Shiva because Shakti is Jagat Mata (the mother of the whole world) and she is the reason for all happenings of this beautiful universe.
The legend of Daksha Yagya and the self-immolation of Sati has a great influence on calling the Guhyeshwari Temple a Shakti Peeth. When Lord Shiva was insulted by his father-in-law Daksha, his wife Sati Devi became embarrassed and angry. That causing her to jump into the fire of the yajna. Shiva was terrified to see his wife dead. He picked up her corpse and started wandering throughout Aryavarta in sorrow, causing parts of his body to fall on the earth.
There are 51 Shaktipeeths which correspond to the 51 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which are believed to be associated with the presence of Shakti due to the fall of body parts of the corpse of Goddess Sati. It is said that the knees of Sati fell at the place where the Guhyeshwari Temple is now built. It also marks the place where both the knees of the goddess fell. Also, in the Guhyeshwari temple, Shakti is “Mahashir” and Bhairava is “Kapali”.
Worship at Guhyeshwari Temple
Guhyeshwari Shaktipeeth is considered to be the most important after Kamakhya Shaktipeeth in India. This goddess is worshiped in the form of Kali, Durga, Bhagwati, Guhyeshwari, and Bhrangeshwari. The idols of Manjeshwari, Aarti Mata, etc. are installed in the courtyard of the temple.
Many devotees from all over Nepal, including Hindus and Buddhists, perform their pujas and paths on the stage of the holy temple. Newar communities especially around Nepal perform various pujas every year at the holy Guhyeshwari temple. Newars perform their Newari Bhoja (Newari feat) in the temple as a devotee. Even Newar Bajracharya Buddhists worship Guhyeshwari as “Vajrayogini”.
Festivals at Guhyeshwari Temple
One of the important festivals of the temple is the “Gyeswar Yatra”, a journey that starts from the Gayeshwari temple after Pashupatinath and ends at Hanuman Dhoka, Basantpur. The temple is of greater importance and appears to be overcrowded during the first ten days of Dashain (Navratri), the biggest Hindu festival. In those days devotees from Kathmandu come to worship Goddess Guhyeshwari. Apart from this, spiritual and sacred idols of Goddess Durga are also placed around the temple during the time.
A huge fair is held on Navratri, Dussehra, and Deepawali. Every day about ten couples are married in the temple.
Who built the Guhyeshwari Temple
The Guhyeshwari temple was first built in the memory and honor of Sati Devi during the reign of the late King Shankar Dev of the Lichchavi period. King Shankar Dev decided to build the holy temple after a discussion with Narasimha Thakur, a Tantrik. However, later in 1654 AD, the temple was completely renovated by Raja Pratap Malla with the suggestion of a famous Tantrik, Lambakarna Bhatta. The idols in the temple are made of gold and silver.
Built-in rich architectural design, Guhyeshwari Temple was constructed in Bhutanese pagoda style. Many tantric rites take place in this temple built on the advice of Tantrik. In addition, the playing of several musical instruments during the prayer was introduced by King Rana Bahadur of the Shah dynasty of Nepal.
The area of the temple is one and a half acres. This place is 46th among the 51 Shaktipeeths mentioned in Tantrachudamani. Every day 300-500, Saturday and Tuesday 1-2 thousand, during Navratri 50-60 thousand, daily and every year 18-20 lakh devotees come to visit.