Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. It is over 72 km (45 miles) long. The lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and is fed by numerous small streams. The lake does have an outlet stream at its far western end. Around 90km to the west of the lake lies the Tibetan town of Gyantse and Lhasa is a hundred km to the northwest. According to local mythology, Yamdrok Lake is the transformation of a goddess.
Yamdrok Lake, has a power station that was completed and dedicated in 1996 near the small village of Pai-Ti at the lake western end. This power station is the largest in Tibet.
The lake with an area of 621 square kilometers and the unknown depth is fan-shaped, spreading to the South but narrowing up to the North. The mountainous lake has a dozen of islands, the largest of which is about 3,000 square kilometer. The lake freezes up in winter. Like mountains, lakes are considered sacrosanct by the Tibetan people, the principle being that they are the dwelling places of protective deities and therefore invested with special spiritual powers.
There are shoals of fish living in Yamdrok Yumtso lake, which are commercially exploited by local population. From April to October, fish caught from this lake are sold at markets in Lhasa. Besides, the lake’s islands serve as rich pasture land to local herdmen.
Culture of Scenic Spot
It is said that devout Buddhists go around the lake’s perimeter every year, and it takes a month or so by riding a horse. This is equal to their pilgrimage to Lhasa, in so doing, at least “Buddha will bless him good luck and happiness and everything goes well in this year”.
However, Yamdrok Lake is called “sacred lake”, it is said that the main reason is that it can help people find the Incarnated lama. After the parinirvana of Dalai Lama, a finding reincarnation group which is made up of Tibet upper the sangha and the laity responsible for looking for reincarnation, first the living Buddha tells them fortune according to the divinatory symbols, then wizard befalls and points out that the large orientation of reincarnation; And then go to the Yamfrok Lake to chant sutra and throw Hada, Wish-granting Vase, medicine material, etc. into the lake; Finally, the ceremony will see develop from the lake, instructs the more specific orientation of reincarnation. If the orientation as shown in the above three kinds of ritual is the same one that can send people looking for reincarnation according to indicated orientation.
Mongolian people worship the Yamdrok, and she is the Tibetan female Dharmapala Dorje Gegkyi Tso. Therefore, Yamdrok is not only the incarnation of drakan, it is also the living quarter for female Dharmapala, with multiple functions or divine power.
According to folklore, a fairy maiden left the heaven and became Yamdrok Lake. According to records, the Yamdrok shapes like scorpions, according to legend it were nine lakes, the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal worried many creatures in the lake would die of dry, so she threw the 7 liang (a unit of weight =50 grams) golds in the air and on wishes, recited the mantra, and put all the small lakes in an organic whole, and it looks like the shape of handheld iron scorpion of Padmasambhava. Some place names related to the scorpion in the basin, and Yuanbuduo island in the heart of the scorpion there is a 16th century AD Nyingma small temple site, near the temple there is padma sambhava handprint. And in the southwest of lake there is Samding Temple, therefore Yamdrok was called one of the three largest holy lakes in Tibet.
Yamdrok Yumtso is known as the world’s most beautiful water. “Yam” means upper; “drok” means pasture; “yum” means jasper; “tso” means lake so Yamdrok Yumtso means “jasper lake of upper pasture”. This is the literal interpretation of Yamdrok Lake, and in the heart of the Tibetans Yamdrok Lake was seen as “scattered turquoise earrings by fairy”, because no matter which angle you are in, you can’t view the overall perspective of Yamdrok. She has three sisters, Kongmucuo Lake, Chen Co Lake and Bajiucuo Lake, the four lakes in great lake basin are like sisters linked together, it is difficult to separate, jointly formed the sacred lake that we can’t see the end of it by naked eye. Her body is winding in the mountains reached more than one hundred and thirty kilometers, and because of different moment sunlight, she will show represents extremely rich blue, like a dream.
Yamdrok Lake is picturesque scenery, and it is in an organic whole of unique natural scenic area of plateau lakes, snow-capped mountain, island, pasture, temple, hot springs, wildlife and other landscapes. There is perennial insoluble snow mountain surrounded, the highest altitude is more than 7000 meters.
Yamdrok Lake and its surrounding area are closely associated with Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha, who brought Buddhism to Tibet in 8th century AD. The lake is home to the famous Samding Monastery which is on a peninsula jutting into the lake. This monastery is the only Tibetan monastery to be headed by a female re-incarnation. Since it is not a nunnery, its female abbot heads a community of about thirty monks and nuns. Samding Monastery is where Samding Dorje Phagmo, the most important female incarnate Lama in Tibet, stayed and presided, and stands to the south of Lake Yamdrok Yumtso.
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.
There are shoals of fish living in Yamdrok Lake, which are commercially exploited by local population. From April to October, fish caught from this lake are sold at markets in Lhasa. Additionally, the lake’s islands serve as rich pasture land to local herdsmen.
Going west of Lhasa, after the Yarlung Zangbo river bridge, along the Raya highway heading south for 170 km and passing over 5030 meters Gambara Mountain Pass, then the beautiful, like jasper Yamdrok Lake appeared in front of us.
Down from mountain pass to Yamdrok Lake takes about 30 minutes, and then can go along the lake road to see Yamdrok Lake views. And until 60 km to Langkazi county, this beautiful mirror will gradually disappear in your line of sight. Go this route, after passing about 40 kilometers from the Langkazi county people will see Ningjinkangsha Peak closely.
Or going south for 100 kilometers from Lhasa, about 2 hours, visitors can rent a car or take a bus to go. If visitors take the bus can take to the side of the Yarlung Zangbo river bridge (Qushui Bridge), and then visit Yamdrok Lake by taxi. General rent a jeep of six seats cost about 1500 to 2000 RMB a day.