Situated at a distance of 22 kilometres from Kathmandu, the Dakshinkali Temple is seated in the heart of a valley, only a kilometre away from the quaint village of Pharping. As the darkness of the night fades and gives way to the bright morning, this magnificent temple comes alive with a fusion of reverberating sounds of the loud gongs, conches, bells and the rhythmic chants. The place of worship is one of the most important temples in the country and is dedicated to the fierce and feared Goddess Kali. The fame of this temple lies in its rituals and traditions. Twice a week, animals are sacrificed at this religious place - uncastrated male goats and cockerels in particular – as an offering to the ferocious spouse of Lord Shiva.
The Dakshinkali Temple derives its name from a compound of the words 'Dakshin', which means 'south', and the name 'Kali', which signifies the deity that is worshipped here. The nomenclature of this holy sanctum refers to its position near a resplendent river gorge situated to the south of the district of Kathmandu. The breathtaking idol of the Goddess is seen standing on top of a corpse, portraying the triumph of good over evil. Embellished with a sword in one hand, a skull cap in another, and a severed head in the third, the four-armed idol represents an image of a strong, empowered divine being who has arrived to conquer evil and emerge as victorious. The Dakshinkali Temple is one of the prime tourist attractions in Nepal, owing to its surreal atmosphere and the serene surroundings.
The Goddess Mahakali is an intriguing incarnation of the Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahakala or Pashupatinath. The surreal Dakshinkali Temple is an ancient place which has a unique tale behind its establishment. It is believed that the Goddess Kali appeared in a dream of the Malla ruler who reigned over Nepal in the 14th century. The goddess supposedly ordered the king to construct a temple which would be devoted to her. The king then set out to follow her orders immediately, and the temple was built in an offbeat location with an image of the deity carved out from stone positioned in the shrine.
The devotees of the Goddess Kali are firm believers of animal sacrifice as a way to please her. In keeping with the mythological tales and superstitious beliefs, the goddess is portrayed as a bloodthirsty celestial being who can be won over by sacrificing animals. Lined in front of the religious place of worship are numerous stalls which sell roosters and goats so that people can sacrifice them on the premises of the temple. A steady stream of people with the sacrificial animals, flowers, and oil lamps form long queues on the stairs that lead to the temple complex and wait for their turn to enter.
This ritual takes place once in the morning and again in the afternoon on every Tuesday and Saturday. As soon as the morning oblation reaches completion, the temple gates are closed for a short period to purify the temple and get rid of the stagnant pool of blood before the afternoon sacrifices begin. The blare of drums and the tinkling bells drown the bleats and clucking of the animals, and the devotees look on with bated breaths. Overall, it creates a mysterious atmosphere in and around the temple. The sacrificial ceremony lasts just a few seconds for each animal, after which their limp bodies are taken to be processed in the temple complex itself. After that, the owners take the carcass to their homes and enjoy a lovely feast. The contentment on the faces of the faithful is impossible to miss, as they believe that their wishes will come true and that the Goddess has been satisfied.
Their unique way of expressing reverence to the idol has received several judgemental opinions and negative comments from many people, including the myriad devotees of the Goddess who argue that the Goddess Kali can never be content with bloodshed and unnecessary sacrifices of innocent animals. However, in contrast to this argument, many worshippers believe that butchering an animal and offering it to the Supreme Being averts the sufferings of the animals and helps them to be reincarnated as humans. Neither of the two theories are supported by factual statements and hence, the devotee act according to their beliefs and are free to either promote or denounce this extraordinary and rather bold, sacrificial ceremony.
In addition to being a religious place of worship, the area around the Dakshinkali Temple is also a popular hub for picnics or short treks. With thousands of worshippers thronging the place on a daily basis, the temple is undoubtedly one of the most mystical places in Nepal. Once you are inside the premises of the mystical temple, you will be welcomed with a magical aura which encompasses the holy place. With Nepal's beauty surrounding the temple, every visitor is offered a sight pleasing to the eye.
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