Tirthapuri Hot Springs: A purifying destination

Asia | | November 4, 2010 at 12:15 am


The Tirthapuri Hot Springs, the Indian identity on the Tibetan Land, is the tourist destination of natural splendor and religious wonder. Attracting Hindus, Buddhists, and tourists from all around the world, these hot springs are nestled at a distance of 80 km from the legendary Mount Kailash in west Tibet. As per the legend, the Tirthapuri Hot Springs is regarded as the site of concentrated energy and power of the consort of Lord Shiva named Mother Parvati as well as of the Tara and Bajra Barahi, the famous Buddhist goddesses. Besides the dedication to these revered female deities, the pilgrim spot of Tirthapuri is also associated with Padmasambhava who is commonly known as Guru Rinpoche.

Interestingly this is the third and last halt for the pilgrims who come here from Mount Kailash followed by Lake Mansarovar. So, we can conclude that if Mount Kailash is a male entity as dedicated to Lord Shiva, then this one is female entity. Situated in the Burang County, the hot springs are called Tetapuri by the Tibetans. Adorning the bank of the Sutlej River, the springs are very hot and this is evident from the steam that almost hides the barren terrain. Further, the landscape is made more interesting for photography as well as prayers via the prayer flags that reside across the river canyon as well as chortens that are called stupas.


As per a legend, this was the site where Heruka overcame Rudra. Further, as per Tantrism, the site is one of the 24 major locations of power.

My Visit

On the pilgrimage of one-hour route, the pilgrims bath in pools that are fed by the water of the spring, revere the cave as well as the guru’s footprint in the monastery, and dig for the healing stones. On my trip, I became a pilgrim although I am neither a Hindu nor a Buddhist. So, I was able to be on the spiritual journey completely for an hour around Tirthapuri. First, I bathed in its hot springs that crown the southwest corner after which the track took me, rather ascended me, to a burial point. Here, I came across some ancient robes and rags that are scattered on the rocks. After, I headed towards the east where two holes namely sour and sweet holes exist. These are a bit mysterious in the sense that they hold small stones that carry healing powers. Try to catch them by digging, which is just very exciting.

Okay, now it was the time for some real test. I came across a karma-testing hole beneath the prayer wheel. Like other pilgrims, this is where you can test as to whether you have done good or bad deeds. Just reach to the hole that is filled with black as well as white stones and grab two stones. If both of them are white, they indicate good deeds; while black ones point to bad deeds. So, if at all you get a sign of bad deeds, do not worry and go for confession, heart-felt penance, and pilgrimage all of which has the power to ruin your bad deeds by negating its effects and praying positively.

From here, I was been taken to the Guru Rinpoche Monastery that is also known as the Tirthapuri Monastery. There is also a cave here, which was his home. Just be in its assembly hall where the stone footprints of Padmasambhava along with his wife Yeshe Tsogyel are revered. Next, while moving ahead on the route to the south of the monastery, a circle of mani stones can be seen, which marks the location where the celestial gods danced while enshrining the Guru Rinpoche.

Now move further in the east where you will encounter several long mani walls. This is the place of offerings among which you will see yak heads. Check out for the largest wall that stretches 200 m long stretches in the east from the monastery. It has a great significance in the sense that it was built by the guru himself by converting an incoming arrow by a demon that was about to kill him. Now, I moved towards the west by the side of the Tibetan river to come back to the springs.

Note: The Tirthapuri Hot Springs is reachable via the guided jeep tour only.

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