By Prabhakar Prabhu
We often visit temples and after worshipping the Lord and offering our prayers, we are given tiirtham or holy water and prasaad (food offered to the Lord). After having that holy water and prasaad with great reverence & devotion we feel great happiness. This "tiirtham" is the holy water used for the Abhisheka(bath) of the Idol of the temple. After doing the abhishekam that particular water becomes "tiirtham".
In Srimad Bhaagavatham, there is a story of Lord Mahavishnu, in his avatar of vamana. When he started measuring the BrahmaanDa (the universe), his toe reached the Brahmaloka (the abode of Brahma). On seeing this toe of the Lord of Lords, the creator of the universe, Brahma, took water and poured it on the Lord’s feet for washing it. This water that flows from the Brahmaloka became the holy river Ganges. The Bhagavatam also talks about Bhageeratha who did a rigorous penance for the sake of salvation and peace of his forefathers. Bhageeratha did a 1000 year penance and brought the river Ganges to earth. The holy water of the Ganges is also called "tiirtha"