Thousands of pilgrims from Nepal, India and South Asian countries today thronged the historic Pashupatinath temple here to offer prayers on Maha Shivratri.
Over 4,000 saints and 150 'Naga sadhus' arrived at the fifth-century temple to offer prayers.
President Ram Baran Yadav and Vice President Parmananda Jha also visited the temple for the festival. The temple was opened to the people at 3:30 am.
Situated on the banks of river Bagmati, the temple sparkled with colourful flags, lights and flowers.
About 3,000 security personnel, hundreds in plainclothes, and over 5,000 volunteers were deployed as part of tight security arrangements at the temple complex.
It is expected that 700,000 people, including 150,000 devotees from India, will visit the temple during the festival dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Pashupati Area Development Trust, one of the organisers, has arranged four courtyards — Swargadwari, Bairagi Akhada, Annapurna Bhandar and Nanak Math — at the complex to house the devotees.
Special arrangements have been made to ease the entry of devotees into the temple, said Trust chief Govinda Tandon.
Entry tickets have been priced at Nepali Rs 1,000 (Indian Rs 625).
Several Indian artistes have been invited to perform devotional songs during the festivities.
A special prayer was also organised at the tallest Shiva statue in the world, situated in Kavrepalanhowk district, 22 km east of Kathmandu.