The best way to enjoy a thermal spring is hopping between the near-boiling water in the hot
spring and in the chilling waters, mainly a river or a lake. These are natural water springs formed
due to geothermally heated water rising to the earth’s surface through cracks in the rocks. For some, the hot springs are holy shrines and for others just a mysterious formation that has medicinal benefits. According to the Geological Survey of India there are around 350 hot springs in the country.
Manikaran Himachal Pradesh
Manikaran is located in the Parvati valley, a tributary of River Beas, one of the biggest rivers of north India, in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. The hot spring at Manikaran is a nature’s marvel and is considered to be among the best hot springs in Himachal. It is of high importance as it is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus as well as Sikhs and has a Gurudwara, Vishnu and Lord Shiva temple in the complex.
The hot spring at Manikaran has high percentage of minerals like uranium and an array of radioactive minerals said to cure many diseases. The water of this spring is so hot that the food for langar (communal kitchen) at Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara is cooked in large vessels immersed in the spring water. People also purchase rice in a muslin bag and place it in the steaming water to experience it.
The Rajgir hot spring is located in Bihar and is also known as Brahmakund. Like many other hot springs, this, too, has curative properties and is a sacred place for Hindus. There are separate baths for men and women and the water comes through spouts from Saptadhara, the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the Saptaparni Caves, up in the Vaibhava hills. This hot spring is popular in winters due to the natural warm water ponds.
The natural hot water spring at Taptapani in Odisha is attributed with medicinal properties. Located in a hilly region, a temple has been built around the hot sulphurous water spring, with a pond next to it for devotees to bathe in. If you love nature and serenity, you will love Taptapani (hot water in Hindi) as it is located on the crest of a hill and surrounded by a lush green forest with wide range of flora and fauna.
Bakreshwar West Bengal
Bakreshwar, a small village in Birbhum district of West Bengal, is known for its eight hot water springs and is a place of geological importance. The eight hot springs here have varying temperatures, hottest one being the Agnikund, with a temperature of about 93.33°C. The water from these springs have healing properties. Bakreshwar is also home to one of the 51 shakti peeths (a key pilgrimage site) in India. This is also the only natural hot spring in West Bengal. “Bakreshwar draws all my attention because of sweet and sultry off springs, which could give you the sensation of steam bath and Jacuzzi simultaneously. Paphara Ganga, Agni Kunda, Bhairav Kunda, Dudh Kunda etc., will try to captivate your desire to rejuvenate your body and to toy with mild hot water. Mild temperature and white hues give smooth and soothing effect,” said Utsab Dey, a traveller from Kolkata, who recently visited the place.
Narad Kund Uttarakhand
Narad Kund is located in the holy town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand and is considered a holy place. Encircled by snowy peaks, the water here is, however, close to boiling and turhot springns it into an epitome of beauty and divinity. Since it is situated near the Badrinath temple, a leading pilgrimage centre for Hindus, devotees prefer taking a bath before entering the religious shrine. “I visited the hot spring in the month of December and the feeling was ecstatic. This was my first experience and the mild hot water in the cold and rough environment was a blessing in disguise. There are many such hot springs in and around Uttarakhand that gives a divine feeling after you experience it. The Tapovan hot spring near Joshimath is the most beautiful hot spring I have come across,” says Thakur Bikram Singh, a mechanical engineer from Bihar.
Chumathang Jammu & Kashmir
Chumathang hot spring located in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir is famous for its hot sulphur springs that bubble from the ground near the banks of the ice-cold Indus River. Locals have a belief that the water here cures joint pains as well as skin diseases. There are small bathrooms made near these hot waters for people to take bath. This spot is also famous for hiking experiences.
About 135 km from Gangtok, the state capital, the Yumthang hot water spring is at an altitude of nearly 3600m and the water here contains several minerals besides sulphur and bathing here provides relief from a myriad skin ailments. This spring is actually inside a small hut on the banks of the Lachung River. Surrounded by picturesque snow-covered mountains, the spring waters are really hot at about 50°C, while the Lachung river water is close to zero even in the peak summers, offering an immense contrast. Borang, Rolong, and Reshi are also some of the other well-known hot springs in Sikkim, located nearby.
Medicinal benefits of hot springs
Balneology or the ‘treatment of disease by bathing’ is popular all around the world. Hot springs have amazing healing powers and have been used for thousands of years as natural treatment options for various common ailments.
The water in natural hot springs has different minerals like calcium and sodium bicarbonate that have high medicinal benefits and boosts blood circulation. The minerals are absorbed by our body, improving blood circulation and overall oxygen flow. The minerals also reduce stress levels by relaxing the muscles in our body.
Hot springs are also known for relieving pain. According to an Israeli study, published in the journal Rheumatology International, hot mineral baths may aid in pain relief and fatigue caused by widespread pain. This is because the heat, although sometimes intense, can dull our perception of pain by blocking the pain receptors in our bodies. Another medicinal benefit of hot springs is that it can heal skin problems. The high silica substance in the water can smoothen and soften dry and rough skin. Also, the sulphur in the water has medicinal properties to cure conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.