Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar are surrounded with a number of sites of religious significance. During your Kailash Yatra, you'll come across many a Buddhist pilgrimage site. One of the most revered of them is Tirthapuri or Tirthapuri. If you talk about western Tibet, Tirthapuri is considered to be the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site. So, if you are visiting the other Buddhist pilgrimage sites, you can never ignore Tirthapuri.
The Tirthapuri Hot Springs are believed to possess healing properties, which is the biggest reason for pilgrims' visit here.
Tirthapuri occupies a position along the banks of the mighty Sutlej River. These hot springs add some life to the otherwise barren landscape of the area. It is located at a distance of 65 km west of Darchen and an additional 9 km south of Menci. It lies at an elevation of around 4,310 m.
The parikrama (circumambulation) around Tirthapuri takes around one hour to complete. The ritual walking begins from the hot springs and continues to the cremation point where you'll see ancient clothes on the rocks. Next, the parikrama takes you to a sour earth hole, followed by a sweet earth hole.
It is at this sweet earth hole where you'll find stones that are believed to carry healing properties. Then the walk brings you to a point known as the Karma testing hole, where you can check out your karma levels.
As the pilgrimage continues, you'll come near a hole in a rock. Here, you can extend your hand in the hole and take out two stones. If both the stones that you pull out are white, it is a sign of good karma. If one of them is black, it means you need to work on your karma to improve it. If both the stones that you pull out are black, it indicates bad karma. Therefore, the entire parikrama or the pilgrimage revolves around karma and helps you find out your own level of karma.
If you are a trekking lover, the walk around Tirthapuri will fill you with great delight. There are beautiful scenes and sights all around that you can feast on while trekking. Take it easy and enjoy the trek.
A visit to the Tirthapuri Monastery is an essential part of the pilgrimage tour. Also referred to as the Guru Rinpoche Monastery, the Tirthapuri Monastery was reconstructed in the 1980s after it was destroyed.
The monastery is visited by Buddhists in large number because this is the place where Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyel spent time meditating. The footprints of them both are preserved on a granite rock here. You can view the sacred footprints inside the assembly hall of the monastery. Now, continue your pilgrimage towards the Tirthapuri hot springs, the ultimate destination. While trekking, you'll also view mani walls comprised of mani stones and yak heads.
There are many stories and legends associated with Tirthapuri and the Tirthapuri Monastery. Get ready to uncover them as well.
Finally, you can move back to the river and reach the Tirthapuri hot springs. Since you may be tired a little after a long trek, you have the hot springs where you can relax yourself, soak up your feet or take a holy dip. Beautifully colored terraces around the hot springs also make for a nice picnic spot.
Here, you can also meet with many Tibetans and interact with them to enhance your knowledge and experience.
Though there is no public transportation at Tirthapuri, it is accessible via road from Mount Kailash. The Tirthapuri hot springs are located at a distance of 80 km from Mount Kailash. The best option is to visit Tirthapuri during your Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. There are both jeep tours and helicopter tours available which you can choose from according to your taste and requirements.
Winter months are chilly. So, it's advisable to plan your visit during the Summer months, between May and August. During summers, it is also easy to indulge in multiple outdoor activities and visit the nearby attractions.
Though monsoons get very little rainfall, temperature during this season may fall to a minimum of 10 degrees Celsius. Weather in the region can change anytime, so you should do the necessary preparations.
For the convenience of pilgrims and travellers, the Tirthapuri Monastery offers modest guesthouses. Depending on your individual preferences, you can either stay at one of these guesthouses or choose to camp down the river. There is also a simple guesthouse at Mensi, 9 km away from Tirthapuri.
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