Architectural Design of the Temple Steps


During my study, I noticed that the design of the temple had steps that led directly down from the temple into the water flow, thereby creating an architectural edge. I learned that the steps were pathways of ritual significance. Each step symbolized the next part of a religious practice that had been passed down from generation to generation. One side of the river focused on the transition into the next life, which included blessings, the burning and parting of the physical body. The other side of the river had stairs that were reserved for rituals of blessing, offerings, and the absolution of sins in the current life. My discovery revealed a duality that arose from the differences between purity and cleanliness. Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher, describes purity is a reality that penetrates the body and cleanses the soul, whereas cleanliness is something that rinses the dirt off of our bodies. People’s interaction with the river was, therefore, a practice of both purity and cleanliness that was rooted in a search to be pure upon entry into the next life. My challenge was to incorporate a design related to the ritual of cleansing for the “here and now” (daily life) and not just as a transition ritual into the next life.



Pashupatinath Section Perspective.jpg

Step typologies in a section perspective demonstrating religious dependence on the river in cremation rituals at Pashupatinath Temple.



  Study of Pashupatinath Temple Steps

Study of Pashupatinath Temple Steps

Model of cremation steps portraying the next component of the ritual in the downward slope into the Bagmati River.


EAST VS WEST: The Myths that Mystify by Devdutt Pattanaik

  -TEDIndia 2009, Filmed Nov 2009; Posted Nov 2009

-TEDIndia 2009, Filmed Nov 2009; Posted Nov 2009

"Every culture is trying to understand itself. Why do we exist? And every culture comes with its own understanding of life, it's own custom version of mythology. Culture is a reaction to nature. This is transferred from generation to generation in the form of stories, symbols and rituals which are always indifferent to rationality.”



Bagamati River: 1 Square km around Pashupatinath Temple

1 sq km pasupati .jpg

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