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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kṣetrapala literally means ‘guardian of the site’.


The Kṣetrapāla occupies an important place among the subsidiary deities in the temples of Śiva . He is the chief guardian of the temple. His appearance can be described as below:

  • His idol is usually naked.
  • He has protruding eyes.
  • He exhibits sharp fangs in the mouth.
  • He has disheveled hair.
  • Snakes are his ornaments.
  • He is shown with two or four or even six hands carrying:
  1. Sword
  2. Bell
  3. Trident
  4. Noose
  5. Skull-cup
  6. Fire
  • He stands on a lotus.
  • He is accompanied by a dog.
  • He is worshiped first before commencing the regular service of the day.
  • He seems to be an aspect of Bhairava.
  • He may have three aspects according to the three guṇas:
  1. Sattva
  2. Rajas
  3. Tamas
  • He can also be an independent deity with his own shrine usually set up in the north-eastern corner of the village or town.
  • His shrine should not face east.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore