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Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake

A Brief Introduction to Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake is 60 kilometers away from the northwest of the Dangxiong County and is 100 kilometers south of the Lhasa city. It is 70 kilometers long from the east to the west and is 30 kilometers wide from the south to the north, covering an area of 1,920 square kilometers and with an altitude of 4,718 meters. The Namtso Lake is as crystal-clear blue as the sky and thus it is called Namtso Lake (In Tibetan, Namtso means the "Heavenly Lake") and it is considered to be one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Namtso Lake is the second largest saltwater lake of China with the highest elevation in the world. On November 14th 2005, it was awarded as one of the five most beautiful lakes in China by Chinese National Geography Magazine.

A Beautiful Legend of Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake, located at the broad prairie of the northern Tibet, is surrounded by a tremendous dike, Nyantsentanglha Mountain. According to the local legend, Namtso Lake and Nyantsentanglha are a pair of beloved couple, living together and deeply attached to each other. As a matter of fact, Namtso relies on Nyantsentanglha as the melting of snow on the mountain is the source of Namtso. Just because of this pure source, the water is exceptionally clear. When wind roars on the plateau, the lake waves and the blue-green waves are gleaming. Singing streams converge into the clean sapphire blue lake, which looks like a huge mirror framed and dotted with flowers.

Attractions of the Namtso Lake

The shape of Namtso Lake is like a recumbent Jingang Dumu (a Bodhisattva). In the south of the lake are 18 shiliang (natural stone bridges) such as the Tortoise Shiliang and Peacock Shiliang. There are 18 islets in the north of the lake including the Yellow Duck Islet and the Roc Islet. When the thick ice layer in the lake begins to melt in May each year, it rumbles which can be heard of in a distance. It is also a beautiful natural landscape.

Near the lake is the boundless prairie, Namtso Prairie which gives you a feeling of vast and magnificence. You can see the agile ground hog, the quiet Procapra gutturosa and the lively and lovely hares on the prairie. It is really a close contact with nature.

Five islands stand in the waters of the lake, among which the largest one is Liangduo Island. In addition, another five bylands stretch into the lake from different directions. Zhaxi Byland is the largest in area of these five. Many bizarre stone peaks can be found on this byland. Among those stone peaks, some are like trunks, some look like human beings and some resemble trees. Various kinds of vivid shapes can easily arouse your imagination. At the same time there are many quiet grottos which are masterpieces of nature. Some grottos are narrow and long like subways while some are full of stalactites. Still, others are like louvers. Grotesque rocks, steep peaks, natural stone ladders and other landform wonders on Zhaxi Byland present visitors a picture filled with mystery and enchantment.

In addition to the marvelous natural sceneries, there are also many gorgeous human sceneries. Four temples are built around the lake in which many natural statues of Buddhists are shown, among which the Duoqia Temple on the Zhaxi Byland is the largest. There is a mysterious thing about the Duoqia Temple: Each night, you can hear the sound of carving the Marnyi Stone (Marnyi Stone represents praying and blessing). But when you are about to get closer to take a look, the sound stops suddenly and when you go away the sound starts again.

Circumanbulating at Namtso Lake

Religious Custom of Namtso Lake

Circumanbulation around the lake is a typical religious custom of the local people which has a long history.

It was said that in the late 12th century, Buddhist hierarchs including the founder of Tibetan Buddhism once practiced the essence of Esoteric Buddhism on Namtso Lake, which was believed to be the origin of worshipping the holy Namtso Lake in the Tibetan Year of the Sheep. According to the Buddhist followers, when the Tibetan Year of the Sheep comes, Buddha and Bodhisattva will hold Buddhist rites on Namtso Lake. If a follower of Buddhism comes to walk and patter around the lake once in this year, he will be much more blessed than he does so for ten thousand times in other years. So in the Tibetan Year of the Sheep, numerous Buddhist monks and believers trudge all the way from other places to Namtso Lake, feeling satisfied, comfortable and happy after taking ritual walks around the lake only once. This activity, lasting for as long as several months, usually reaches its climax on April 15th in the Tibetan Year of the Sheep, when the Buddhist followers come and go in large numbers.

Best Season for Namtso Lake

You had better go to visit the Namtso Lake from June to September, because Namtso Lake will not be allowed to visit by the heavy snow from October to November. Therefore, summer is the best time for visiting the Namtso Lake.

In summer each year, wild yaks, hares and other wild animals leisurely look for food along the expansive lake shores; countless migratory birds fly here to lay eggs and feed their young; sometimes lovely fishes in the lake jump out of the lake water, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine; sheep and cows herds are like flowing white blanks on the green grassland which can stretch as far as your eyes can see; the dulcet songs of Gauchos resound through the valleys. This time of the year Namtso Lake is full of vigor and vitality. Therefore it is no wonder Tibetans take Namtso Lake the symbol of goodliness and happiness. Namtso Lake is really a blessing from nature.