Shiva, the destroyer, is historically the god most worshipped in the country. He may be worshipped as the holy ascetic, depicted with his consort Parvati and holding a trident and a small drum or more often in the form of the linga, an elongated stone representing his generative powers. The most important linga is situating in the holy shrine of Pashupatinath to west of Kathmandu. In front of Shiva temples one usually sees a statue of Nandi, the divine bull that serves as Shiva’s vehicle. Another popular form of Shiva in Nepal is the terrifying Bhirav. Different aspects of Bhairav play major roles in many of the Valley’s festivals.
Vishnu, whose primary duty is to assure the preservation of the world and all living forms, is believed to have visited the earth ten times, each times as a different incarnation or avatar. He is often depicted as a boar, a tortoise, a man-lion and a fish-his four animal incarnations. Throughout South Asia he is most often worshipped in two well-known human forms: prince Ram the hero of the epic Ramayana and the pastoral god Krishna. In Nepal he is often worshipped in his omnipotent form of Narayan, and in some of his most lovely images is seen astride the man-bird Garuda his vehicle.
The archetypal mother or female, goddess in of particular importance in Nepal. She is worshipped in many aspects: as Durga, protector and slayer of the buffalo demon, as Taleju, patron deity of the Valley rulers, and as Kumari, and the living virgin goddess. . Other female goddesses include Laxmi, goddess of wealth and Saraswati, goddess of knowledge and arts. Another widely venerated god is elephant-headed Ganesh, the remover of obstacles and the source of good fortune. Other deities such as Red Machhendranath, are special to Nepal alone and are celebrated with unique local festivals.