Yamdrok Lake Adventure Tours
Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. It is over 72 km (45 mi) 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 90 km to the west of the lake lies the Tibetan town of Gyantse and Lhasa is a hundred km to the northeast. According to local mythology, Yamdok Yumtso lake is the transformation of a goddess. Yamdrok Lake, also known as Yamḍok Yumtso, has a power station that was completed and dedicated in 1996 near the small village of Pai-Ti at the lake’s western end. This power station is the largest in Tibet.
The lake (638 km² in area, of depth unknown) is fan-shaped, spreading to the south but narrowing up to the north. The mountainous lakeshore is highly crenelated, with numerous bays and inlets. Lake Yamdrok freezes in winter. Like mountains, lakes are considered sacred by Tibetan people, the principle being that they are the dwelling places of protective deities and therefore invested with special spiritual powers. Yamdrok Lake is one of four particularly holy lakes, thought to be divinatory; everyone from the Dalai Lama to local villagers makes pilgrimages there. The others such lakes are Lhamo La-tso, Namtso and Manasarovar. The lake is revered as a talisman and is said to be part of the life-spirit of the Tibetan nation. The largest lake in southern Tibet, it is said that if its waters dry, Tibet will no longer be habitable. 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 Dorje Pakmo, the only female 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.