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China: Yamdrok Lake

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Yamdrok Lake | China | Asia

[Visited: April 2007]

After driving for a few hours from Lhasa, we reached Kamba La Pass at just under 4,800m. The lonely, empty road suddenly was lined by colourfully dressed yaks, small stalls, and souvenir sellers. The latter stormed our car as soon as we were about to stop. I struggled to get out of the car and looked back, to have a last look over the valley and mountain pass we had just climbed. Then, I walked back, and finally found some peace from the souvenir sellers to take in the view of Yamdrok Tso, lying seveal hundred metres below me - a beautiful lake which looked extremely calm. I could imagine how the lake could be of female mythical origins to the Tibetans.

Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Yamdrok-tso with Nojin Kangtsang

Yamdrok Tso, also called Yamdrok Yumtso, is a lake with two long arms of water, making it look like a scorpion from the sky. This shape means you can never see its shape from around it. From Kamba La, you can see one arm, and follow it until it disappears around a bend in the shore which makes it difficult to estimate the size of the lake. The Yamdrok Tso is one of the most sacred lakes of Tibet, the others being Lake Manasarovar, Nam Tso and Lhamo La Tso. As with all places sacred and holy in Tibet, you can walk around the entire lake, taking around seven days. This is probably a good indication as any of the size of Yamdrok Tso. The lake is considered sacred and the water has special powers: according to locals, it can make the old young again, it can improve intelligence in children,

Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Lake Yamdrok as seen from Kamba La

We escaped the souvenir sellers and stopped again a little lower, where the view over the lake was perhaps even better. Apart from the sacredness of the lake, its sheer beauty must seduce all visitors. Tibetans visit the lake before making important decisions, and no matter how far-reaching the powers of the lake are, it is easy to recognize the impact being at the lake for a longer time can have on the visitor. The Chinese have realised that the high location of the lake, at almost 4,500m, makes it a great source for energy, and indeed have been draining the lake for hydroelectric electricity. While unvisible to the casual visitor, the water level seems to be decreasing, and some predict the lake, which is not replenished naturally, will be dry in some 20 years. For now, however, the views are terrific. Coming closer to the lake makes you appreciate the blue colour, the transparency, and the reflection of the snow capped mountains in its tranquil waters.

Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Yamdrok Tso: Mount Nojin Kangstang reflected in its remarkably blue water
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Looking down towards the east from the top of Kamba La pass
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): View over Yamdrok Lake from Kamba La pass
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Yamdrok Tso: detail of the green-blue lake
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Barren Tibetan landscape with Yamdrok Tso
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Yamdrok Lake: beach
Picture of Yamdrok Lake (China): Nojin Kangtsang reflected in Yamdrok Tso

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yamdrok Lake (China). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yamdrok Lake.
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