Hindu Pilgrims: There are three kinds of Hindu Pilgrimages in Nepal for 1. Lord Shiva, 2. Lord Vishnu, and 3. Ma Shakti . According to Puran mythology Himalaya is home of Lord Shiva and Parbati. Hence there are many Pilgrimage sites related to Lord Shiva in Nepal. Pashupatinath Temple is the Holiest pilgrimage of Lord Shiva. Mt. Kailas is the mountain of Lord Shiva and it is considered holiest of all holy mountains. Mt. Kailas is in Tibet near Nepal Tibet border. A mountain with a Temple on its top is also considered Holy Mountain.
There are several Shakti-peeths related to Durga Ma through out Nepal. Dakhinakli and Guheswori are most famous Shakti-peeths of Kathmandu valley. Other important Shakti-peeths are Pathibhara, Shaileswori, Vindyavashini, Mankamana, Jogeshwori, etc. Such Shakti-peeths are usually situated on the top of a mountain.
The confluence of rivers, particularly when they are major tributaries of the Ganges, is always regarded as religiously significant by Hindus, as it is believed a third spiritual river also joins. Such confluence is called Tribeni.
Pashupatinath: Lord Shiva is worshipped as Pashupati the Lord of all living creatures. The temple of Pashupatinath is 6 Km east of Kathmandu. Pasupat-Chhetra (site of Pashupatinath) is one of the holiest places in Nepal for Hindus all over the world. Many Hindu Pilgrims come Pashupatinath round the year. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu from all over World make Pilgrimage on the day of Shivaratri (Night of Shiva, one day before black moon in February). There are many temples of various Hindu Gods in the holy site. Guheswori temple is the most important among other temples. A walk from this temple to Aryaghat near Pashupatinath temple is very popular among non-Hindu tourists. Pashupatinath Temple area is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nepal.
Gosaikunda: Gosaikunda is a glacier lake in Langtang. It is 2 to 3 days trekking from Dhunche. According to Puran lake Gosaikunda was created by Lord Shiva by his Trident. He had to drink water after intake of Halahal or Kalkut poison. He has to digest the Kalkut poison which was the product obtained from Samundramanthan by Gods and Ashurs. The most auspicious day for the Pilgrimage is Full moon day (Shrawan Purnima) in July. Many pilgrims from Nepal and India take a bath in the Lake. However trekking to Gosaikunda is one of the most popular trekking in the Langtang region. Gosaikunda is also source of River Trishuli.
Devghat: is a confluence of river Trishuli and river Kaligandaki and is very significant religious Tribeni. It is 6 Km north of Narayanghat. Here all 7 holy Gandaki Rivers meet together to form a Narayani River.
Like Tribeni of Ganges and Yamuna at Allahabad in India Devghat is one of the main sites for the festival of Makar Shankranti in Nepal. Many pilgrims from around Nepal and India to immerse themselves in the river. Makar Shankranti is also popularly known as Maghe Shankranti. It is first day of Nepali month Magh (Mid January). In this place the demigods came to honor Lord Vishnu when he saved Gajendra, an elephant from the attack of a crocodile after hearing his prayers of devotion.
Shaligrams and Shalgrams: The Shaligrams are specifically described as ammonite fossil stones which have taken shape in the Gandaki-river, and as characterized by the presence of discus marks. The legend, related at length tells us that Gandaki, the lady-devotee, performed penances for long years, and that she got a boon from Vishnu, which made Vishnu reside in her womb (in her depths) as her own offspring; the Shaligram-stones are thus the forms of Vishnu. Like the worship of Siva in the form of a lingam, the worship of Vishnu in the shape of a Shaligram is an iconic in character. Shaligrams are always naturally found in the river Gandaki. The region where Shaligrams are found is also called Shalgrams. The Shaligrams region is in Mustang and River Gandaki basin. These also include the famous Kali-Gandaki river, Muktinath, Damodar Himal, Damodar Kunda, Devghat, etc.
Please note: Shaligrams are the evevidence of the Himalayas, were under the sea, and erupted when two tectonic plates (Indian and Tibetan) started to collide and are still colliding.
Muktinath: Muktinath temple is one of the holiest pilgrim destination for Vaishnav Hindu. It is one of the 106th sacred Muktichhetra (assured of salvation) of 108 sacred place of Vaishnavs. This region is called Muktichhetra where Lord Vishnu got himself free from the curse of Sati. The Muktichhetra is also a Shaligram region. The Shaligrams are found along the Kaligandaki river. You can visit to the largest Shaligram in this region. There is also a Jwaladevi, a divine flame, which is continuously burning since thousands of year in Muktinath Temple complex. The Muktinath temple is a pagoda shaped temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple site is at an altitude of 3800 m. The Muktinath Temple complex has 108 holy water spouts set on a wall for bath.
The recent developments in the transport system to Muktinath region has made the pilgrimage possible for thousands of devout Vaishnavs who do not fancy trekking. Intrestingly Muktinath is also a pilgrimage for Buddhists.
Janakpur: Janakpur is in mid-Terai and is famous Hindu pilgrimage site. Janakpur is a birthplace of Janaki Sita. Janaki Sita was married to Lord Ram of the Epic Ramayana. Janakpur region is also known as Mithila. The folk art from the region is famously known as Mithila art. Places of Interest: are Janaki Temple, Bibaha Mandap, and numerous beautiful ponds, Mithila Art center.
Ridi: 50 km from Tansen at the confluence of the Kaligandaki and Ridi Khola. In this small place, here is a temple of Rishikeshwara (Vishnu) with 50 other small temples. Pilgrims visit here to earn merit for this life as well as for their next life. About 200 Vishshnavas of the Nimbarka & Sri Ramanuja Sampradaya sects live in near by Ridi Bazaar. Additional attarction includes Ranighat: a beautiful Rana palace.
Damodarkunda: is a glacier lake at the slope of Damodar Himal in Mustang. Damodarkund is one of the most important pilgrimage to Lord Vishnu. The pilgrimage is parallel to Kailas pilgrimage for Lord Shiva. The Damodar lake is located three days walk north east of the main Mustang trekking route and very close to the border with Tibet. Damodar Kunda is the source of River Kaligandaki. The site is in the region of Shaligram and hence it is also called Shalgrams. Other names of River Gandaki are Kaligandaki, Saptagandaki, and Narayani.
Access: Jeep drive to Lomanathang from Jomsom and then three days trek to Damodarkunda.
Permit and fee: TEAM: $10.00 per person; ACAP: Rs 2000.00 person (Indian nationals: TEAM: Rs 300.00 per person; ACAP: Rs. 300.00 person)
Upper Mustang permit (additional): $ 500.00 per person for the first ten days and for more than 10 days $ 50.00 per person per day is applicable.
Buddhist Pilgrims: Buddha was born in Nepal at Lumbini as Shiddarth Gautam. Shiddarth Gautam led the world on the path to enlightenment and became Lord Buddha two thousand five hundred years ago.
Lord Buddha was born in Nepal at Lumbini. He was born as a prince called Siddhartha Gautam. The birth site was then developed into a beautiful garden. The beautiful Garden in the Buddha's time still retain its legendary charm and beauty and remains in the present day Lumbini Garden. Lumbini is about 20 minute drive from Shiddarthnagar, a town in mid western Nepal.
Places of interest: Maya Devi Temple (birth site), Asoka Pillar, Archeological excavation sites, various Buddhist temples and monasteries from Buddhist countries from all over worlds. Tilaurakot was the capital city in the Lord Buddha era. The archeological excavation around Tilaurakot is another attraction.
Some Buddhist pilgrim sites: Important Buddhist Stupa in Kathmandu valley are Swoyambhunath, Bouddhanath, four Stupa built by Asoka Emperor in Patan and one Chabhil, etc. There are several Tibetan monasteries around Kathmandu valley. Some of the monasteries are recently built. Monasteries at Kapan and Pharping are noticeably popular among tourists. Tengboche Monastery is the highest altitude monastery in Nepal.
Namobuddha is the place where Lord Buddha, in an earlier life, offered his body to a starving tigress so she could feed her cubs. It is said that his hair, bones and so forth were made into a Stupa, the Stupa now known as Namobuddha. It is in east of Kathmandu valley near Panauti.