I had intended to go on a hike that day, but due to illness (my cough that lasted 2 1/2 months and my doctor thought might be TB) I cancelled the hike. My friend Ben recommended I go to Pashupatinath Temple, so I made my way over there.
The temple is on the Bagmati River and is dedicated to Shiva. Because the river joins with the Ganges River, which is considered a holy river, cremations are done at this temple and the ashes are pushed into the river, so they can eventually meet the Ganges. Elderly people come from Nepal and India to the temple in their last days, averaging a few hundred a year, to die and be cremated. "It is believed that those who die in Pashupatinath Temple are reborn as a human, regardless of any misconduct that could worsen their karma."
The website above explains that at this temple, "It is a temple with special atmosphere of death; death is present in almost every ritual and every corner of it," and I absolutely agree with that quote. It was a really indescribable experience that I will never forget. It was beautiful and moving and I sat on the banks for about two hours just watching and experiencing.
I didn't really try to break in, but was stopped at the entrance at the same time she was stopped. Naturally, also being me, she and I decided to wander about together since we were traveling alone.
Elise and I decided to share a tour guide to go around the temple, which ended up being very interesting, though he was very focused on pointing out the various kama sutra images on the temples.
The hardest to watch was definitely the enormous funeral, attended by hundreds of people on either side of the river, for who we assumed was either a very famous or a very young woman or both. There were hundreds of people watching and crying and an extremely distraught family, especially the mother who had to be dragged away from her body. The woman's body was also treated very differently than the other people's were. She was wrapped in gold sheets with different flowers. I don't know a lot about Hindu funeral customs, but after doing a little research, I believe it means she was a married woman and her husband was still alive.
I also learned they are burned in their wedding dresses.
Honestly, it was an amazing and unforgettable experience that is extremely hard to explain. It wasn't easy but it was a necessary experience if you are ever in Kathmandu.