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Yamdrok Tso Lake – Largest Amongst Four Holy Lakes in Tibet

Yamdrok Tso Lake, also known as Yamdrok Yumtso, is one of the four largest holy lakes in Tibet, besides Nam Tso Lake and Lake Manasarovar. The lake is situated at the south of Yarlung Tsangpo river within Langkazi county in Shannan region of Tibet. Perched at an altitude of 14, 570 ft (4,440 m), the holy jaded lake in Tibet stretches over 72 km with an average depth of 20-40 m, the most in-depth point being 60 m, and comprises of dozen of tiny islands. Without an outlet, it seems like a natural reservoir with a perfect balance between the melted snow water and the evaporated lake water. Surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and fed by numerous small streams, this sacred lake is an interesting place to visit due to the mythological belief of being a transformation of a goddess.

Engaging the spiritual essence of Tibet, the coral colored lake and its surrounding areas are closely associated with Padmasambhava, who is believed to have brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. Today, both pilgrims and tourists can be seen walking along the lake’s perimeter. One of the lake’s islands contains an old fort or castle called Pede Dzong.

Standing to the south of Lake Yamdrok Tso is the famous Samding Monastery, which is the only Tibetan monastery to be headed by a female incarnate. It is believed that it was in this monastery the third-highest lama in Tibetan Buddhism had been reincarnated for hundreds of years. A visit to Yamdrok Tso Lake is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So come and try your hand at drinking hot-buttered tea astride a colorfully bedecked yak while overlooking the beautiful emerald lake.

Reaching Yamdrok Tso Lake

If you visit Yamdrok Tso Lake from Lhasa, it is 120 km drive towards the southwest, where you have to climb over Kampala Pass, from where you can have a bird’s eye view of the incredible turquoise lake. However, if you begin from Gyantse, the lake lies 140 km eastwards, where you have to climb over Karola Pass. The drive, however, is very scenic and adventurous. Travelers will need to hire a car and driver or take a bus tour on to Yamdrok Tso. Alternatively, if embarking on an overland tour to Everest Base Camp from Lhasa, you can visit the holy lake en route.

Religious Beliefs

There are several spiritual as well as mythological beliefs regarding the holy lake as mentioned below:

  • Tibetans believe that lakes are the dwelling places of protective deities and therefore, revered and invested with special spiritual powers.
  • The lake is said to be a manifestation of a natural force, the one that gives power in life.
  • Yamdrok Tso Lake is said to be able to help Tibetans find the reincarnated soul of the Dalai Lama. After a Dalai Lama passes away, the senior monks are responsible for finding the boy in whom the reincarnated soul of the Dalai Lama has gone to abide. They come to this lake to chant and pray, thereby getting a reflection of the specific location of the Dalai Lama’s soul.
  • According to folklore, a fairy maiden left heaven and transformed into Yamdrok Tso Lake. The lake is said to be the female guardian of Buddhism in Tibet, guarded by the goddess Dorje Gegkyi Tso.
  • It is believed that if the lake dries up, Tibet will become an inhabitable place.
  • Tibetans believe that circumambulating around the lake in seven days will wash away their sins and earn merit.
  • The Mongolian people believe that Yamdrok is the Tibetan female Dharmapala with multiple functions or divine power.

Significant Highlights

  • There are many small islands in the lake, which support many migratory birds. The lake is the most abundant habitat for migratory birds in southern Tibet. During autumn and winter, the lake bank and the islands are a spectacular view of thousands of white birds flying above the lake.
  • The lake serves as an immense reserve of fishes, thus also called the ‘fish stock of Tibet.’ Local fishermen catch native varieties of fish in the lake for sale in local villages and markets.
  • Yamdrok Tso is revered as a talisman and is said to be a part of the life-spirit of the Tibetan nation.
  • A significant variety of birds, goats, yaks, wild plants, plains, and pasture provides unique natural scenery with few villages hugging the rocky lake shores.
  • Devout Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, traditionally make pilgrimages to the lake.

Fooding and Accommodation

There are no real lodgings available at Yamdrok Tso till now, and no boating, fishing or swimming beaches. Small establishments in local villages sell some prepared food. Most travelers arrive here as a part of some tour itinerary, usually focused on the capital city of Lhasa. Nagarze is the nearest town to the lake. Some small guest houses, restaurants and shops here serve both tourists and pilgrims who come here to walk around the lake in honor of the resident goddess.

Why visit Yamdrok Tso Lake?

Yamdrok Tso Lake looks like a holy sapphire. Under the bright azure sky, the clean water of the lake is as smooth as the surface of beautiful blue jade. Every year, many local Tibetans, visitors from Lhasa and foreign tourists come here for pilgrimage or sightseeing. Various reasons to visit Yamdrok Tso Lake are:

  • It is the largest freshwater lake at the north foot of the Himalayas in southern Tibet.
  • The lake freezes up in winter. However, melting of snow and glaciers feed the lake throughout the year.
  • The lake is located in a fantastic environment and is a beautiful spiritual retreat.
  • A trip to Yamdrok Yumtso consists of a glimpse of all that Tibet has to offer to a curious eye. A visit to the lake immerses you in the world of Tibet’s extraordinary landscapes, with fantastic options for excursions and walks.
  • In the distance, you will have spectacular views of the holy mountain Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar (7,191 m).
  • Yamdrok Tso is turquoise when the sun shines on it. With the change in the angle of the sun’s rays, the lake reflects different degrees of blue, light blue and sapphire, making it incredibly attractive.

 Best time to visit

The winters are usually mild. However, the lake will freeze during winter seasons. The best months to visit Yamdrok Tso are from May to July with relatively mild temperature and have clear sky across the country. With unpredictable weather and temperature, it is always advisable to take your rain gear and warm clothing along with you.

Other interesting facts

  • The lake offers yak rides to the tourists.
  • The vast lake lies in what is called the Trans-Himalayas, a poorly defined mountainous region of Tibet.
  • Local villagers here have begun developing cottage industries to create crafts to sell to the tourists.
  • The world’s highest hydroelectric power is located nearby the lake.
  • By standing on the hilltop around, one can have a far view of the fresh water under the sunshine reflecting different colors of blue, and the diverse lakeside grass and plants dotted with yaks and birds.
  • The name of the lake roughly translates to the ‘jade lake in the upper pastureland,’ but some other translations also call it ‘Swan Lake.’

Tibet is one of the world’s most spiritually appealing places where everything seems pious in this time-wrapped enclave of purity. Set against the backdrop of perpetually snow-covered peaks, Yamdrok Tso lies among rolling hills with nearly the climate of a desert. The deep bluish-green of the lake adds a mass of welcome color to the often brown slopes. Colorful prayer flags placed by the religious people on pilgrimage add spots of riotous color to overlook the shores of the lake.

Owing to its growing popularity, the mystical Yamdrok Tso Lake, in recent days, has been incorporated in many tour itineraries which focuses around Lhasa. A distinctive Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour via Everest Base Camp will let you explore the spiritual lake, conquering high passes and driving through exotic Tibetan towns.

Top 10 Tours and Trips In The Himalayas – 2018

Home to the highest peaks on the planet, the best trips in the Himalayas drags you to witness captivating mountain vistas passing through remote mountain trails, diverse cultural immersions and vivid Himalayan flora and fauna. The trips and tours in the Himalayas will lead you to every trekker’s dream destination, the Everest Base Camp,  overstepping the flamboyant Namche Bazaar, the antique Tengboche monastery and the emerald Gokyo Lakes. Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour is yet another recommendation as one of the top tours in the Himalayas for 2018, taking you to beautiful Tibetan cities and breathtaking natural sceneries. Himalayan guided tour of Tibet and Nepal combined, lets you witness two vibrant cultures, historical places and colorful festivals. The Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan and Ladakh tour with Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake would definitely deserve a spot in the top Himalayas trips in 2018 because of their extraordinary attractions, untouched wilderness and spectacular foothill vistas. In a nutshell, the below mentioned Himalayan escapades unarguably, are every globe trotters’ trips of a lifetime in the Himalayas.

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Rongbuk Monastery – The Highest Monastery in the world

Rongbuk monastery, also known as Dzarongpu was initially established with the name of Dongnga Chöling in 1902 by the Nyingmapa lama Tsedru Ngawang Tenzin. The highest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the world lies near the base of the north face of Mount Everest, at the end of the Dzakar Chu valley at Basum Township in Tingri County of Shigatse Prefecture of Tibet. Perched at an altitude of 4, 980 meters (16,340 ft) above sea level, Rongbuk is considered to be the highest religious place and a spiritual destination in the world. Owing to its unique location, and unlike other incense-filled temples in Tibet, Rongbuk is aptly regarded as the gateway to Mount Everest. Visitors on Tibet tour or trekkers and climbers travel from Rongbuk Monastery to Everest Base Camp after an overnight stay or a brief halt in the vicinity of the monastery for capturing beautiful and picturesque photographs. The following few things will give you a better idea before you travel to the world’s highest monastery:

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Explore India’s 10 Top Most Tourist Attractions

Explore India’s 10 top most tourist attractions while embarking on an Incredible India Tour. India is a land of culture and heritage which has an array of tourist attraction that draws travelers from all over the world. It is an incredible country where diversity delights, culture echoes, and traditions speak. In capturing Golden Triangle India Tour visitors can see the foggy hill stations, historical monuments, captivating beaches, golden deserts, temples, peaceful backwaters, affluent wildlife and colorful fairs and festivals.

By seeing the beauty of India, one can say that this land is simply exotic, captivating and magical place. Furthermore, in commencing India Tours, visitors can see the bewitching backwater beauty of Kerala,the astonishing Ghat of Varanasi, ancient temples of Khajuraho, Taj Mahal, the splendid beaches of Goa, the historical forts and Palaces of Rajasthan, and of course the breathtaking beauty of the Indian flora and fauna. Listed here below are the 10 top most tourist attractions of India.

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10 Things You Should Know Before You Go to Tibet

Monks, monasteries, meditation and mountains – Tibet conjures images of blue skies, white ice and saffron robes of a spirituality pure Shangri-La. A trip to Tibet can be rewarding and adventurous, in fact a paradise for westerns as well as Asian travelers. Tibet tour offers fascinating views of the magnificent monasteries and the world’s highest mountains, breathtaking high-altitude treks, and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet.  A traveler dreaming to visit Tibet is required to pre-arrange a Tibet travel permit through a travel agency in Nepal or in Tibet, along with guide and transportation, making independent travel off-limits.

The remote, far-flung regions of Tibet are seemingly in a world of its own, with fabled villages tucked between some of the highest mountains in the world,  and devout pilgrims prostrating around impressive temples. The elemental beauty of the highest plateau on earth is Tibet’s other highlight. Taking your trip past glittering turquoise lakes, across huge plains dotted with yaks and nomadic tents and high passes draped with colorful prayer flags, your trip, no wonder, will be an epic overland tour or a historic trekking feat along some of the world’s wildest roads and trekking trails.

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7 reasons to go for Langtang Valley Trek

The Langtang Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of Glaciers’, is totally dominated by Mt. Langtang Lirung (7,246m) and it offers verdant pine and bamboo forests, farmlands, swift mountain streams, rugged rock and snow-capped peaks, grassy lawn and meadows leading to the infamous Kyanjin Gompa. Lying north of Kathmandu and an incredible trekking destination, the Langtang Valley Trek, one of the pleasant walks in the Himalayas, traverses along dramatic ridges through villages inhabited by Tibetans, Tamangs and Sherpas. The trail passes through mountain grazing cattle on the rich alpine pastures under the watchful eyes of their herders. Throughout the way, spectacular mountain views of Dorji Lakpa, Mt. Gaurishanker, Mt. Ganesh Himal, Langshisha Ri, Gangchhenpo, Yala peak and Naya Kanga persuade to fascinate every trekker. For those wishing to board on a short trek from Kathmandu into the Himalayan wilderness that is influenced by Tibetan lifestyle, this will best suit their needs. Trekkers may extend their trekking trip to the famous and sacred Gosaikunda lakes, Ganja La Pass, Tserko Ri or Helambu which falls within the Langtang region. This trail gifts the visitors with a solitary and peaceful experience amidst the beautiful nature and off-the-beaten trails leading to sublime views and impressive landscapes.

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