Namtso Lake, Tibet

Historical background

Referred as the “heavenly lake” in the Tibetan language, Namtso Lake is the second largest salt lake after the Qinghai Lake of china and is considered to be the most holy lake of Tibet. Spanning across the vast prairie of northern Tibet, it spreads across an area of about 1,920 square kilometers. It is believed that one of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism attained the knowledge of Dharma sitting besides the lake during the year of Sheep according to the Tibetan calendar. And since then, hundreds of religious followers flock the city to visit the lake once in every 12 years.

Map of Namtso Lake


Why visit Namtso Lake

Located across the Tibetan plateau, Namtso lake is famous for its high altitude and picturesque view. Covered with luscious, green grasslands and the crystal blue water, the lake is often marked with the sight of yaks and sheep and it also provides the natural habitat to various species of swans, sand birds and egrets. The most outstanding attraction in and around the area is the Good and Evil cave. Stories from the legend often say that Namtso was a Goddess responsible to look after the wealth of Northern Tibet and therefore, thousands of businessmen flock this place to pray for the success of their businesses. One can make confessions to God about their evil deeds and get through the Evil and Good cave. However, if at all someone is ruled by evil powers in their life, they will not be able to get into the cave according to a Tibetan Buddhism rule.


Probably the best time to visit the lake is between June and September during which the lake is made open for public view as the Nyainquentanglha Mountains remain closed due to heavy snowfall around the time of October and November.


What not to miss in Namtso lake area

Apart from its scenic beauty, the Namtso Lake serves as a pilgrimage place for many Buddhists who visit the lake every year to perform “Kora” around the lake. Thousands of tourists come on a long voyage to worship at the Dzashi Monastery which is situated at the banks of the Nam Lake, near to the Dzashi peninsula.  It is believed that the Nam Lake bears countless treasures at its bottom surface after beliefs that The Nam Lake, daughter of Bam Lake married the Nyainquentanglha ranges but could not withstand the coldness, shiver and loneliness and thus threw all her ornaments and gems into the lake.

The Namtso Lake is situated at an altitude of 4,718 meters at Damxung in the city of Lhasa. One can visit the Potala palace in Lhasa to view the grandest of myriad chapels or they can even visit the biggest monasteries of Tibet namely Drepung, Sera and Gulupa. The view of the wild open ranges and the turquoise blue water collectively is just intoxicating. One can see people often camping around the banks of the lake and enjoying the famous yak ride in the city.


Accommodations around Namtso Lake

While planning a visit to Namtso Lake, people need to keep in mind that most of the hotel facilities may not be at par with the high end hotels of China or other cosmopolitan cities. They can still find a few five star hotels in nearby Lhasa or Shigatse but the other city hotels are often very basic. It is the best place for tourists on a budget visit as it has plenty of small guest houses with twin rooms and squad toilets in a few of them. People who wish to camp also often stay in tents which are available in Lhasa at very affordable prices.



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