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Tibet Yamdrok Lake - One of Four Top Holy Lakes in Tibet Region

Tibet Yamdrok Lake Scenic Area with towering
snow mountain, Noijin Kangsang Peak, afar
(click for a larger picture)
Tibet Yamdrok Lake is the abbreviation of Tibet Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, in Chinese, this lake is called Yangcuoyong Lake(羊卓雍湖, or羊措雍湖) or Yangzhuo Yongcuo, and the local people call it Yanghu Lake(羊湖, literally translated as The Sheep Lake). In Tibetan language, Cuo(错or措)means Lake. Yamdrok in Tibetan means the Pool of Swan, one of top four holy lakes (Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake, Lake Manasarovar and Qinghai Lake) in Tibetan region. The whole lake is a heavenly lake indeed because of its location roughly on the top of mountain ranges(an altitude over 4500 meters above sea level), and the whole shape of the lake is quite long and narrow, and seems like the intestines of sheep. Repeatedly, the height of Yamdrok Lake above sea level is 4410 meters, and 130 kilometers long from east to west, and 70 kilometers wide from south to north. The lakeshore is over 250 kilometers, and the total area of this lake is 638 square kilometers. The depth is from 20 meters to 40 meters. Yamdrok Lake as a salt water lake is the largest inland lake on the north side of Himalaya Range. Annually, the whole lake gets iced since November. By the way, there are more than 20 isles on the lake.

Legends and Attractions of Yamdrok Lake

tibet yamdrok lake
Tibet Yamdrok Lake Scenic Area
Legendarily, Yamdrok Lake is changed from a fairy from heaven. Also, it was said that there was a spring hole long long ago. Nearby this spring, a rich family settled, and there was a servant in this family named Dawa. One day, he saved a little goldfish, and the goldfish changed to be a beauty and rewarded him a treasure object. This thing was known by that evil rich man, and he forced Dawa to look for that girl and more treasure with him. But the rich man failed, and Dawa was drowned by his evil master. That fairy girl appeared and changed to be the limitless huge tide towards the rich man, the rich man was penalized equally. Since then, a beauty lake appeared. This is surely a romantic story about the origin of Yamdrok Lake.

Via this legend, we can know something related to the custom of Tibetan people. Tibet is comprised of diversity of mountains and lakes. The local people think of the mountains as the male, representing the man, husband and father; and the lakes as the female, representing the woman, wife and mother. So the lakes are holy and cannot be insulted at all. This is a kind of typical natural worship of humankind in early period. So the holy lakes in Tibet are closely connected with fairies, beauties and mother. In some way, it belongs to a culture of motherhood worship.

Tibet Yamdrok Lake is the largest habitat of birds in south Tibet, annually birds migrate here. Laguigangri Mountain(拉轨岗日山), a snow mountain range extending roughly 360 kilometers, divides the Yarlung Tsangpo River and Yamdrok Lake. Noijin Kangsang Peak, in Chinese is Ningjinkangsha Peak(宁金抗沙峰), is the main peak of Laguigangri Mountain, it toweringly standing aside Yamdrok Lake, and the local Tibetan people call it Noijin Kangsang, which means Yecha God living on the holy snow mountain. This peak has an altitude of 7206 meters and is located at the edge of Gyantse county and Langkazi county. And it is one of four top holy snow mountains in middle Tibet surrounded by more than 10 high peaks with an altitude over 6,000 meters. Noijin Kangsang Peak is marvelously magnificent, and the ravines and slope areas are covered with accumulated snow, and then the glaciers appear. But the snowslide accidents happen sometimes. Annually, the best time of climbing the mountain is spring and autumn.

tibet karola glacier
Tibet Karola Glacier
The Karola Glacier(卡若拉冰川) at the south side of Noijin Kangsang Peak extends nearby the highway, the distance approximately is 300 meters, it is the excellent site of sightseeing. Nearly all the tourists may stay here for several minutes to view the grand beauty of glaciers. It is the miracle of heaven indeed! Many travelers prefer to take some photos with yaks. On the west side of the Yamdrok Lake, there are also many famous high peaks like Jiangsanglamu Peak(姜桑拉姆峰) and Jiegangsusong Peak(解岗速松峰). These are all the wild areas suitable for traveling, climbing and exploring.

On the south side of Yamdrok Lake, roughly 10 kilometers away from downtown Langkazi County, there is a monastery named Sangding Monastery(桑丁寺), which has a history over 300 years, and the principle of the living Buddha life-transfer inheritance has lasted for 12 generations. Moreover, it is the only monastery managed by a female living Buddha. But all the monks are all the man, except the head.

The riverside of Yamdrok Lake is a high-quality meadow, and the surrounding mountains with a height of 5000 meters above sea level are the habitat of many wild animals like snow pigs, wild sheep and foxes. Besides, Yamdrok Lake is also the largest fishery in Tibet region. But in Tibet, tourists had better not eat fishes, because in tradition of Tibet, fish is the holy creature sending the dead to the paradise (the dead is buried in water). Additionally, Yamdrok Lake Power Plant, the world’s highest pumped-storage power plant, is also located here.

How to Go to Tibet Yamdrok Lake from Lhasa

Departing from Lhasa to Shigatse, Yamdrok Lake is an unavoidable part, and also the highlights of this travel. Generally there are two ways to Shigatse. But today majority choose the way including viewing the Yamdrok Lake. Tourists taking a car by way of Qushui Bridge along a new expressway (the only expressway in Tibet region), and then there will be two branches, and the left extends to Gongga Airport(贡嘎机场, known as Lhasa International Airport), and the right towards Yamdrok Lake.

The whole way (two numbers S101 and S307, a provincial highway with two different numbers due to the different administrative investment and management) is quite well facilitated. The way goes over many high mountains; some parts are quite dangerous and breath-taking, but the sights are extraordinarily marvelous. Think about it, two sides are the deadly dangerous cliffs, and the roadside fences are not so well, and the car has to climb upwards and experience many sharp turnings. The road is narrow and steep. And human is helpless indeed but pray for safety, and you may become a loyal god believer. On the other way, the drivers in Tibet also need a much stricter check and examination before driving car among the high mountains.

On the way, tourists can see the Yamgdrok Lake Power Plant, which making electricity via the sharp difference of two heights, roughly 1000 meters between them. Before the arrival, tourists need go over a famous site called Ganbala Mountain Mouth(甘巴拉山口, which in Tibetan language means the unsurpassable mountain), the altitude is 5374 meters. Ganbala Mountain is a famous snow mountain in Tibet, specifically the border-style mountain of Langkazi County and Gongga County. It southwardly connects with Yamdrok Lake, eastwardly links to Gangdisi Mountain(冈底斯山) and westwardly connects with Himalaya Mountain(喜马拉雅山). Ganbala Mountain viewed from the map is located in the middle of Tibet and divides the Tibet into the front Tibet, the east part of Tibet, and the rear Tibet, the west part of Tibet. During the climbing phase, the altitude rises quickly, and this time, the first-time travelers need to pay attention to the altitude sickness. Generally, the car in Tibet belongs to go-anywhere vehicle with the best interior and exterior installment including the altitude measuring instrument, so travelers can take some measures to relieve the altitude disease in accordance with the change of data. When the car goes through the mouth of Ganbala Mountain, where the altitude is 5030 meters, travelers will amazed at viewing a huge blue gem lying on the sky. It is really a magic view!

Tibet Yamdrok Lake and Yak Photo
Yamdrok Lake and Yak Photo
Tibet Yamdrok Lake and Mastiff Photo
Tibet Yamdrok Lake and Mastiff Photo

By the way, the ticket is 40 RMB per person, and the best site to view the Yamdrok Lake is the highway, and most of travelers get off the cars here. Also, there are some local people take their well-decorated yaks and Tibetan mastiff here. Travelers can take photos with them. It is absolutely safe with the Yamdrok Lake and Noijin Kangsang Peak as the picture background. It is not free, but impressive!

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