Sadhus in Kathmandu, Nepal: An Intriguing Look Inside Their Lives

Sadhus in Kathmandu, Nepal: An Intriguing Look Inside Their Lives

Sadhus are dreadlocked holy men who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal. Here’s an intriguing look into the life of a Sadhu!


Sadhus in Kathmandu, Nepal: An Intriguing Look Inside Their Lives


I met this Sadhu at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. You may notice burn scars on the inside of his right arm. In Nepalese, he shared the story of how he had been badly burned when he was a child and how a local holy man took him in and began teaching him the ways of the Sadhus.

Many Sadhus beg in the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, but only for enough money for the bare necessities, such as food and clothing. Some say they are glorified beggars.

Sadhus are especially common at this temple in Nepal, which is rated as one of the most important Shaiva pilgrimage sites. These holy men live solitary lives and use intoxicants as a path to spiritual insight.

Becoming a Sadhu is a difficult lifestyle. I found it interesting to learn that Sadhus are considered dead to themselves. They may even be required to attend their own funeral before they are able to seek out a guru and begin the process of transforming into a holy man.

Sadhus in Kathmandu, Nepal: An Intriguing Look Inside Their Lives

The vast majority of Sadhus in India and Nepal are Yogis. I’m guessing this Sadhu has done a bit of yoga in his lifetime.

Photo Tip: When taking close-up portraits where you want the subject to stand out, it is a good idea to set your camera at a large aperture. This will blur the background, while keeping the subject in focus.

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If you are curious to learn more about Nepal, you can view some of our other Nepal posts:

First Impressions of Nepal

I See the Light in You

Photo of the Week: Burning Himalaya Mountains

What I Loved Most About Visiting Dhading, Nepal

The Ultimate Nepal Travel Guide + Packing Tips

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  1. It looks like Captain Jack Sparrow in Nepal! 🙂

  2. Awesome photo, I love the tips.
    Meeting someone like this that lives the way they do really makes you think about things and the way that you live your own life doesn’t it?
    Great photo tip too 🙂

  3. Roy | cruisesurfingz says:

    Great shot. love the color contrast.

  4. This is a great shot, kind of feel like those feature image on NATGEO cover or site. Especially you added a side story to this makes this photo more meaningful.

  5. Wow!! Love it! I agree with Jeremy, he looks like a Nepalese Jack Sparrow… lol

  6. Marlo | Barcelona Apartments says:

    Stunning photography!! Is true, looks like Jack Sparrow!!
    Sadhus are considered holy people in India?

  7. Seriously, between India and Nepal you can meet the most diverse samples of humanity, I love it. Great shot.

  8. Dave and Deb says:

    Great shot guys. Love the connection with the eyes. It really draws you into the photo.

  9. Jamie - cloud people adventure says:

    wow. great photo. interested to know what the guy was like? did he ask for cash for the photo or was he cool with it?

  10. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    Pretty much all of them ask for cash. It’s customary to give the equivalent of about $1. I look at it like paying a model. 🙂

  11. Amazing- so raw and primitive!

  12. Prowerful shot! His piercing blue eyes look right through you. I also like the way you “fuzz” the background—great techique to focus on the holy man.

  13. pinaytraveljunkie says:

    The way he stares… he seems to be telling us something. Awesome snapshot!

  14. Sofia - As We Travel says:

     Awesome photo, I agree with Jeremy, he actually does look like Captain Jack Sparrow, haha!

  15. Nancie (Ladyexpat) says:

    Fantastic shot!

  16. Dina VagabondQuest says:

    Superb photo! Do you usually do this candidly, or rather you tell them first?

    1. They allow people to take photos for donations so it wasn’t his first rodeo, but I think with the language barrier talking was out of question.

  17. Geert @ Inspiring Travellers says:

    I find people like this so interesting – it is especially difficult to think about their way of life when you are a westerner so used to modern conveniences. Beautiful photo!

  18. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    @Jeremy – HA! I never thought of that until now.

    @Cailin – Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the tip and photo! I love meeting people with different backgrounds and yes it definitely makes me think about my own life.

    @Jake – Thank you for your kind words.

    @Roy – Thanks! The yellow paint really makes it pop, doesn’t it?

    @Sarah – Wow! Thank you for such a lovely comment! I feel lucky to have had a guide that day who was able to communicate with him and translate his story in English.

  19. Nice photo! You really captured the intenseness of the dude. I really like the color in the photo too.