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Yamdrok lake: a Drop of Blue Tear from Buddha


 Brief Introduction of Yamdrok Lake Terrain Around Yamdrok Lake
 Fauna in Yamdrok Lake Legend of Yamdrok Lake
 Travel Tips The Beautiful Yamdrok Lake








Brief Introduction of Yamdrok Lake

Located in Nagarze County, the 678 m2 Yamdrok Lake(29.0°N 90.6°E) with an altitude of 4558 m is the biggest inland lake on the north ridge of Himalayas and the most beautiful lake in south Tibet. Together with Lake Manasarovar and Lake Namtso, they are honored as the Top Three Holy Lakes in Tibet. It is not far away from Lhasa, Gyantse and Langkazi County. The most beautiful parts of it are Kampala Mountain (5,030m),Ningjinkangsha Peak and Karuola Glacier. Depart from Lhasa, one has to cross over the 5030 m high Kampala Mountain to reach it. In June, 2012, there was a tourism project under its way to develop this holy lake, which has been prohibited already for the sake of preserving its original beauty.

Yamdrok Lake means "the upper pasture's jade lake" in the Tibetan language and is famed as the most beautiful lake in the world. Its coastline stretches 250km long. The Tibetans deem it as "the turquoise earrings of the fairy scatter among the mountains". She has three sister lakes. In the giant lake basin, they embrace each other and compose this holy lake. Meandering its way over 130 km, one can only catch part of her body unless take a bird's eye view. Seeing from above, you will be surprised by its similarity to an earring embedded on the edge of mountains. Sunshine in different hours highlights its dreamy blue looks with the most diversified shades. Time in Yamdrok Lake seems has stopped and frozen. Everything here is sacred, tranquil, mysterious and enticing. Stand on the world's roof, you can feast your eye on the most pure and soaring snow mountains, crystal lakes, the virgin blue sky, most beautiful clouds, islands, pastures, hot springs, rich flora&fauna species, temples and tents. People says its beauty can touch you so much that you will experience a sweet sadness, in an altitude of over 5000 meters.

Weather in Yamdrok Lake is unpredictable. You will experience the four seasons during one day. This moment, the storm with thundering and lighting prevails, the next moment, it will snow before give way to sunny days. You may wonder what is wrong with the weather, definitely the nature is going insane. As the largest bird inhabitant site, the midair of Yamdrok Lake, the kingdom of these lovely creatures, is anything but quiet. In winter, swarms of precious birds include swans and yellow ducks will occupy this lake and bring much vibrancy to it.


 A drop of tear from Buddha: the pure and holy Yamdrok Lake

This lake is surrounded by over ten snow mountains above 6000meters high. The 7206m high Ningjinkangsha Peak, the main peak of Laguigangri Mountain, guides this lake and is one of the Top Four Snow Mountains in Tibet. Snaking its way over 360km long, it divides the Brahmaputra River from Yamdrok Lake. Tibetans call it as the night god who lives in the noble snow mountain. Towering Yamdrok Lake, it sits at the joining point of Gyantse county and Nagarze County and gives birth to numerous glaciers include the famous Karuola Glacier which sits on its south ridge. Covering an area of 9.4km2, the Karuola Glacier is composed of a snow cape and two ice tongues. The East ice tongue measures 3km long and 750m wide while its west ice tongue stretches 4.5km long and 1.5m wide. Several movies were shot here include the Red River Valley. It sparks like a giant fresco drape down from the mountain top and boasts the most exquisite patterns.

Stretching 130km from East to West and 70km from South to North, Yamdrok Lake is 70 times the size of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Measuring 20m to 40 m in depth, it reaches 60m in the deepest part. Irregular in shape, it has many tributaries and is named as "the Coral Lake" by Tibetans. It was an outflow lake with three connected sister lakes which converge into the Brahmaputra River once, then it was formed over ten million years ago by the debris flow. By now, the lake water shrinked into an inflow lake, and is divided into four lakes with relative height within 6.5m. Hills dash forward abruptly from the lake which contains 21 islands with sizes ranging from 100m2 to 18 km2. Exuberant flora thrives in the islands which are home to flocks of wild birds. Yamdrok Lake Power Plant, the power plant with the highest altitude, sits here. 

Yamdrok Lake is compared as a fairyland by the Tibetans. The green palette of this plateau pasture is mingled with colorful livestocks like stars embedded into a green blanket. In winter, Yamdrok Lake nestles at the foot of Himalayan peaks like a sleeping beauty and in late Spring and early Summer, she greets the bulls and cows with open arms. Two reasons make this lake a haven for fishes: the water is rich in plankton and the Tibetans do not eat fish. With eight hundred million KG of fishes living within this lake, it is called the fish reservation.

Yamdrok Lake is the largest bird habitat and a paradise for rare animals and livestocks. In the altitude over 5000meters, you can see snow pigs and in the meadows you will cross your way with wild goats and foxes. Among the nemerous bird islands in Tibet, Yamdrok Lake surpasses most of them by its large scale and most diversified bird species. A striking number of over 153 kinds of birds are spotted here such as Tibet Snow Chicken, Black-neck Crane, Brown-headed Gull and Spotted Head Wild Goose. The stony Bird Island measures 15 m in height and shelters a stone house which is dwelled by the bird protection man. Seduo Bird Island, one of the top three bird islands in Yamdrok Lake, is mainly haunted by 7500 Brown-headed Gull and 7000 Spotted Head Wild Geese. From May to middle of June, Spotted Head Wild Goose will lay their eggs here while end of June to middle of July, Brown-headed Gull will occupy the whole island. Over 2800 bird nests scatter in this island.

 Ningjinkangsha Peak

 Karuola Glacier

 the Bank of Yamdrok Lake is an ideal pasture

 Yamdrok Lake features enticing blue water

 Yamdrok Lake with colorful ribbons

 the sacred Bull Horns near Yamdrok Lake

Sometimes, thousands of white birds will sweep away like a hurricane and block the sun, the scene is quite impressive. About the white bird, there is a legend: long time ago, there lived a beautiful girl in the Baidi Village. She will bath every night in this lake, thus her skin is milky white. One local slave owner coveted her beauty and wanted to take her as one of his wives. This girl has a lover and refused his request. One night, the slave owner sneaked into this lake and wanted to bring her home. Luckily, one fairy showed up and killed the slave owner. Unfortunately, the dead body of the slave owner drew her into the lake and both sank to the deep bottom. The following day, the village people came to look for her, only found a white bird flied out from the lake. Since then, local people let the white birds haunt this lake without disturb them.

Yamdrok Lake is an ideal pasture for Livestocks

 Black Neck Crane


 Brown Head Gull

 Bird Eggs


 Spotted Head Wild Goose

 Yamdrok Lake is a haven for fish


 Tibetan Yak

Swan in Yamdrok Lake


Legend of Yamdrok Lake

According to legend, Yamdrok Lake was a fairy from the heaven. It is said Yixicuojie, a most beautiful queen of Tibet who converted to Buddhism in her later life, throw the gold into the sky and connected all the small lakes into one. Yamdrok Lake looks like a scorpion in shape and many sites' names are associated with it. The most pious Buddhists usually will tour this lake once per year to pray for health and good luck in the whole year. One month is needed to tour around this lake by horse riding. Yamdrok Lake can help Buddhists to find the sacred child who is reborn from Dalai Lama: After the Dalai Lama passed away, the higher class of monks will look for the sacred child. First, they will carry out specific ritual to locate the direction of the scared child, then they will chant the scripture in Yamdrok Lake and throw the Hada and herb medicines into it, then they will perceive the more detailed location of this sacred child by the reflections. If the directions of three ritual ceremonies overlap, they will head out to find the sacred child.



 the Hiking Route of Yamdrok Lake


Travel Tips

Weather: the temperate near Yamdrok Lake keeps rising 0.38 degree each year, and it is getting warmer and more moist. Winter is chilly here. In August, the temperature ranges from 14 degree in night to 26 degree in daytime, thus is very mild.

Best Travel Time: The imposing Ningjinkangsha Peak, home of many glaciers, is frequented by avalanches from time to time. Each April to May or September to October are best climbing periods. Karuola Glacier is a must-see. The best travel months include July, August and September. Yamdrok Lake belongs to low degree salt lake, it will freeze since mid November, with ice thickness of 0.5m. You are advised to take sun scream for the UV here is very strong. During winter, you had better bring enough clothes.

Accommodation: you can live in the local hotels in Nagarze County.

Cuisine: the dry mutton and beef here is very yummy and famous, you can have a bite by yourself.

Traffic Route: Depart from Lhasa, you will pass the Brahmaputra River Bridge in Qushui County. Head south along the Laya Road, you will cross over the 5030 meters high Kampala Mountain, and then Yamdrok Lake will present herself gracefully before you. Heading from Lhasa southward 100km, it takes about 2 hours. Then you can rent a jeep or take the bus to this lake. Rent a jeep of 6 seats will cost 1500-2000RMB per day. If you choose to take the bus, you can wait on Brahmaputra River Bridge. After getting off the bus, you can hire a vehicle to tour around this lake. It will take about half a hour from the snow mountain to the edge of lake. You can feast your eye on Yamdrok Lake's beauty until you reach the Nagarze County 60km away. Drive another 40km, you will reach the Ningjinkangsha Peak.
Avoid the rainy days when tour this lake, or you will see nothing.
This route suits to those experienced hikers. The advantage of touring here during Autumn and Winter include it seldom rain, large groups of birds will migrate here to spend the winter and the Snow Mountains will look more stunning.

You are advised to hike here by teams.

Bring high energy food include chocolates for more than two days and carry more than two liters of water.

Bring the whole set of camping gear such as stove is advised. It will be windy during the night, you can bring the double-layered tents which can endure the temperature as low as minus ten degree. Carry necessary medicines and first aid fits. Personal gear: hiking shoes, thick trousers, down clothes, head light, camp light, hat, headwear, map, knife and bag. Click for more useful Tibet travel tips.

The Beautiful Yamdrok Lake, is a drop of tear from a sacred girl, which is embedded into the 4600 meters high Kampala Mountain

How long has she waited in the summit of the undulating and solitude mountain ranges?

For thousands of years? Billions of years? Or the boundless eternity?

Her stunning beauty shines in the peak of Tibet Plateau and her endless charm lights up the crystal blue sky

To seek after her unparallel and aerial beauty, numerous people have left their footprints in the pilgrim road

Which spark like diamonds, just like the ripples of the Yamdrok Lake

I cast a gentle and loving look to her, which is blown to her by the fresh breeze from the Kampala Mountain

I sing a love song to her from the deep of my heart, which lingers above her crystal and clear water surface

This is a heaven road full of steepness and mystery

This is a heaven road the soul searching for its destination

The melancholy wind ceases to humming a tune of unfulfilled dream

The love it chants is so profound, while the road to it is so inaccessible

In this heaven road, my eyes are overwhelmed by what I behold and my mind is bewildered by what I feel

When I stand in front of the Yamdrok Lake, the highest fresh water lake in the world

I am simply shocked to speechless by its extreme beauty

My mind dances with her to the skyline

Where lake nestles along the sacred snow mountain in the horizon

Below the blue sky, the snow mountains

The flocks of livestocks wandering around leisurely

Due to the bond of preexistence, we meet each other in the circle of present life
Ah, my soul is blended with the mist above this lake and is absorbed by the pure white snow mountain

It is my wish, my dream and my yearning, i am happy, i am contented and i am ecstaticto leave my soul here permanently

The eternal snow mountain, the eternal Yamdrok Lake

I discard all the sadness and shadows of past life, to follow her steps
I forget all the sadness and shadows of past life, to approach her sacred beauty

The eternal, beautiful, silent and distant Yamdrok Lake

I will listen to your heart beat with the most pious heart, and my passionate love song will resonate among the whole Kampala Mountain forever
Author: Sophia   Posted on Dec 30, 2012
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