9/19/2007 to 9/21/2007 | Tibet

Sacred Springs, Lakes, and Mountains

After the Kailash kora, we went to Tirthapuri hot springs and monastery associated with Padmasambava, the Indian guru who brought Buddhism to Tibet.  Traditionally it is were pilgrims bath after the kora, my travel companions had visions of soaking in a warm pool fed by the springs, I was under no such illusion.  The springs gushed out of the soil spreading along the soil making a stream about 5 inches deep.  Not much good for bathing.  In addition, the local Tibetans used the water for there annual bathing, not much of an exaggeration (aside: Tibetan bathing or lack there of, when I arrived in Lhasa a Tibetan from the train was helping me find a guesthouse, when I asked did it have a shower he looked perplexed and asked why would you need a shower?  The Tibetan’s apparently try to mask the stench of not bathing with yak butter which is surprisingly powerful enough to do so or it least it blends into the body odor to create a different smell, though not much better than each individual smell.)  But back to the springs, having been used to wash cloths as well as layers of yak butter and dirt the water was less than pristine.  We had to be content with soaking our feet in a small hole, above the area where the Tibetans were washing, over a nice room temperature beer.  While the springs were less than stellar, the monastery and eroded canyon landscape around it was beautiful.  So while my companions may have been a bit disappointed with the springs I certainly was pleasantly surprised by the photo opportunities.

From the hot springs we went to Lake Manasarovar, the holiest lake in Tibet.  The lake is deemed by Hindus to be an outward manifestation of the creator God Brahma.  It is said that bathing in the lake washes away your sins.  Having already shed my sins at Kailash I decided I really couldn’t have sinned that much in the last day, so I gave the icy waters a pass.  Although my companions all went for a dip, being a California boy myself I really had no desire to die sinless of hypothermia.  Tibetans and Hindus also circumambulate the lake, a 100 km long trek.  I ran across three Tibetans who were prostrating the whole way around the lake, a feat I couldn’t imagine doing.  We spent a day and a half at the lake; I hiked around, climbing hills, and taking in the views of the lake, and Mt. Kailash.

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