Altitude: 4310 meters
Location: 65 km to the North-West of Darchen, 9 km to the South from Moincer town
Pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus
Tirthapuri in Western Tibet is the famous pilgrimage site along with Manasarovar lake and Mount Kailash. It is located to the North from Kailash on the Northern bank of Sutlej River within a couple of hours of driving from Darchen. The main attraction sites are hot springs, geiser and the monastery. Most travelers visit Tirthapuri after completing the kora around Mount Kailash. The site is closely associated with Indian master Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and his consort Yeshe Tsogyel.
PADMA SAMBHAVA/ TIRTHAPURI MONASTERY
Inside of the monastery is the Vajravarahi Cave where Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche) meditated with his consort Yeshe Tsogyel.
In the 8th century Gonchen from Dorje Drak monastery established the monastery. Originally, the monastery belonged to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Nowadays monks of Karma Kagyu order reside in the monastery. Monastery complex includes two small temples. In the upper temple to the right from the altar you can see footprints of Padma Sambhava and Yeshe Tsogyel. Inside the smaller temple is the meditation cave.
Outside of the monastery is a large circle with mani stones. According to legends, gods danced there when Guru Rinpoche came to Tirthapuri.
TIRTHAPURI HOT SPRINGS
Tirthapuri hot springs are shallow. There are 2 dug out pools, however, no facilities and nothing that can offer any privacy. Many travelers prefer to soak their feet in warm waters and relax after trekking around Kailash.
There are white and red stone terraces surrounding the hot springs. Many Tibetans stay there for a picnic.
The geyser that once was quite active now seldom releases hot water. This water forms small calcium clumps that people collect for medicinal use.
PILGRIMS CIRCUIT AROUND TIRTHAPURI
The kora around Tirthapuri is about 1 hour long and very pleasant. You will see colorful prayer flags and stupas along the way. The circuit starts in the South at the hot springs. From there, it climbs up to the cremation site. There are many old clothes scattered in the area.
Next you will pass by two medicinal holes, where visitors collect mineral deposits. The first one is a sour hole and the next one is the sweet hole. After that you will reach a peak on the train with a good view of the surroundings. There are many mani stones and yak skulls with horns. From the peak the road on the left goes all the way to the top of the ridge. The main kora route continues down to the Tirthapuri monastery following the path on the right side. On the way down from the peak you will see stupas (chortens). After that you will reach the Guru Rinpoche (Tirthapuri) Monastery.
On the pilgrimage circuit, there is an interesting hole that allows pilgrims to test their karma. You should put your hand inside and take out two stones. If both are white, your karma is great, if one is black, then your karma is just average, but if both stones are black, you should be careful and improve your karma.
After visiting the monastery, continue the train walking by mani stones wall. The kora circles back to the river near the hot spring area.
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR TIRTHAPURI
Gorgeous deep-blue colored freshwater lake is one of the highest in the world. Snow-capped mountain ranges surround the lake, including the Gurla Mandata peak. All pilgrims traveling to Mount Kailash make at least a short stop by the lake. However, if you have time to spend by the lake, you will enjoy the serenity of this sacred place. Along with Tirthapuri, pilgrimage to Manasarovar lake is one of the most important in Western Tibet.
It is impossible to imagine a visit to Western Tibet without traveling to magnificent Mount Kailash. Located about 30 km from the lake it is visible in a clear weather. Kailash is sacred for 4 religions. Pilgrims and travelers complete the circuit around the mountain in 3 days. After that many visit Tirthapuri to relax in its hot spring waters.
The Western most region in Tibet rarely sees tourists. If you are looking for an off the beaten path adventure, Guge Kingdom wont disappoint you. You will see ruins of an ancient kingdom, clay caves in the mountains, Tholing and Tsaparang monasteries, and moon-like landscapes of stone forests and muddy mountains.
TOURS VISITING WESTERN TIBET
15 DAYS MOUNT KAILASH GROUP TOUR
One of our most popular group tours, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and going to Manasarovar lake and Mount Kailash for three-days trekking around this sacred mountain. During this tour, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum stupa, Mount Everest, Lake Manasarovar, Chiu Monastery, Mount Kailash, and much more.
2021 SAGA DAWA FESTIVAL TOUR
This special tour takes you to the sacred Mount Kailash and Manasarovar lake during the biggest festival of the year. Saga Dawa Festival celebrated the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from all around Tibet, India, and the world. You will see the greatest diversity of Tibetan national dress as people wear their best clothes for the festival.
17 DAYS WESTERN TIBET: KAILASH AND GUGE KINGDOM
A private tour taking you from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet to the most Western part of the country. The tour includes three days trekking around Mount Kailash and visiting the ruins of the Guge Kingdom on the West, in addition to Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, and Everest Base Camp.