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Trilokinath Temple, Spiti Valley Overview

The Trilokinath Temple, also known as Sri Trilokinathji Temple, is located in Trilokinath village in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India. About 9 km from the village of Udaipur (not to be confused with Udaipur in Rajasthan), the temple is the only place in the world where both Hindus and Buddhists worship. The diety is considered as ‘Lord Shiva’ by Hindus while the Buddhists see it as Arya Avalokiteshwar. ‘Trilokinath’ is another name of Shiva, a Hindu god and it means the ‘Lord of Three Worlds’. However, it is believed that the Trilokinath Temple was originally a Buddhist monastery.

At an altitude of 2760 metres, the beautifully white-painted temple could be seen at the end of the street in Trilokinath village. ‘Tunda Vihar’ is the ancient name of the Trilokinath Temple and is considered as the most sacred pilgrim tirth after Kailash and Mansarovar. The colourful Tibetan prayer flags swaying in the wind, the sound of the brass bell with the surrounding snow-clad mountain peaks and pine trees, Trilokinath Temple offers a serene view and magical comfort to the eyes. For peace seekers and religious people, it is surely an ideal place to explore.

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Architecture of Trilokinath Temple

Trilokinath temple has a curvilinear stone tower or shikhara which has a distinctive amlka on its top. Made in a traditional wooden pagoda style, it is decorated with Tibetan prayer flags. As you enter the temple, there is a courtyard which has a small white shrine with a granite lingam and a Nandi bull in the middle. There is also a large Buddhist prayer wheel.

Past the courtyard, there is a room around the original shrine where a Hindu priest and a lama sit. Further inside, on the right, the lama sits on a bench covered with a white cloth while on the other side, pictures of Dalai Lama and other bodhisattvas cover the wall. Right across from the entrance of the room is the six-armed deity, behind an iron gate and flanked by two gold columns. A Hindu priest who accepts the offerings of the devotees is also present.

History & Significance

The Trilokinath temple was originally constructed in the 10th century as per the stone inscription found in the complex in 2002. However, today there are no remains of the original structure which comprised of a marble statue of a six-headed Avalokiteshvara. It was stolen decades ago and was replaced with an image made of grey stone. Presently, the temple has six-armed Avalokiteshvara of white marble claimed to be made in the 12th century. It is crowned with an image of Amitabha Buddha - the 'Buddha of Boundless Light.

It is strongly believed that the Trilokinath Temple was earlier a Buddhist vihara or monastery and was transformed into a Buddhist place of worship by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. The original image is said to have the same date of origin as the Avalokiteshvara head found near the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers.

Pori Mela

Pori Mela is the grand festival celebrated annually for three days at the Trilokinath Temple and the village with great vigour by both Hindus and Buddhists. Early morning, the Lord is bathed with curd and milk and people gather around the temple in large numbers to beat drums and blow conch shells followed by other rituals of the temple.

As per the local belief, Lord Shiva visits the village on a horse on this day. Therefore, a horse is taken around the temple and is later treated with delicacies. A grand fair is also organised which brings together traders from far and nearby towns. You will find a rich collection of handicrafts, local food and other products. To witness the electrifying atmosphere of this festival, visit Trilokinath in the month of August.

How to Reach Triloknath Temple

Rohtang pass is the gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti valley. It remains open from April to November only for the tourists. The Trilokinath Temple is situated 45 km from Keylong and 146 km from Manali. The nearest town is Udaipur which is only 9 km away. Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses run in large buses from these nearby towns to Trilokinath. Alternatively, you can hire taxis in Manali, Kullu or Udaipur.

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