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Explore the Mystical Charm of Pumo Yumtso: Popular Freshwater Lake

Serene Beauty of Pumo Yumtso Lake


Pumo Yumtso, a sacred and captivating lake in Tibet, holds a special place in both geography and spirituality. In Tibetan, (ཕུ་མ་གཡུ་མཚོ · 普莫雍错 )the name signifies “Jade Lake in the Upper Valley” or “The Young Girl’s Lake,” reflecting its ethereal and untouched splendour. Located in the southern reaches of Nagartse County, Lhoka, this lake is not merely a natural attraction but also a spiritual haven.

Geographic Majesty of Pumu Yumtso


Nestled at an elevation of 5,090 meters, Pumo Yumtso is recognized as the largest and highest freshwater lake in southern Tibet. Measuring around 29.5 kilometres in length and 14 kilometres in width, it covers nearly 290 square kilometres. The lake’s extensive shoreline, stretching over 94 kilometres, offers awe-inspiring vistas and a serene ambience. It is celebrated as one of Tibet’s four Great Yumtso Lakes.

Ecological Sanctuary of Pumo Yongtso Lake

Pumo Yumtso is a thriving ecological hub, boasting three small islands in the northeast that are sanctuaries for diverse waterbird species. The lake is also known for its unique Naked Carp, a scaleless fish renowned for its exquisite flavour. Fed predominantly by rainfall and snowmelt, Pumo Yumtso maintains its ecological richness with six rivers flowing into it, preserving its vibrancy and balance.

phumo yumtso
Phumo yumtso

Spiritual Essence of Yumtso Lake

Imbued with deep spiritual significance, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche, a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism, blessed Pumo Yumtso, enhancing its sanctity. Circumambulating the lake, a journey taking about 8 to 9 days on foot, is seen as a spiritually enriching experience, offering an opportunity to immerse in its tranquil and holy ambience.

A Phenomenon of Nature: Experiencing Four Seasons in a Day

A summer visit to Pumo Yumtso unveils a unique phenomenon where visitors can experience all four seasons in a single day. The mornings resemble winter with its chilly winds, gradually transforming into spring and then summer by noon as local villagers engage in their pastoral routines. Evenings are marked by hailstorms followed by a sharp drop in temperature, bringing a winter-like feel to the lake, and adding to its mystical charm.

A Memorable Journey

Pumo Yumtso, with its verdant meadows, expansive grasslands, and encircling snow-capped peaks, offers a heavenly retreat on Earth. Its dynamic weather patterns, coupled with the blend of natural beauty and spiritual depth, make it an unmissable destination for those seeking a profound and picturesque experience in the heart of Tibet.

Experience the Winter Wonderland of Pumo Yumtso: Tibet’s Hidden Gem


Marvel at Nature’s Magic: The Mystery of Blue Ice

Witness the stunning natural phenomenon of blue ice, nature’s gift in low temperatures. But what gives blue ice its mesmerizing color? When water freezes, the ice often contains tiny air bubbles. The light passing through undergoes varying degrees of reflection and refraction, giving the ice a blue appearance. During the harsh winters, ice becomes denser and more compact, expelling air and reducing internal cavities. This clarity allows sunlight to penetrate, scattering the shorter wavelengths of blue light and creating the crystal-like blue hues seen in the ice.

pumo yumtso glacier
Pumo yumtso glacier

Pumo Yumtso: The Untouched Blue Ice Wonderland

Pumo Yumtso, often overshadowed by the famous Yamdrok Lake, is a hidden treasure awaiting discovery. In February, the lake transforms into a vast expanse of giant blue ice blocks, creating an ethereal landscape unlike any other. Despite its proximity to Yamdrok Lake, Pumo Yumtso remains a lesser-known destination, offering a more intimate and unspoiled experience.

Ideal Time to Visit Pumo Yumtso

The end of January to mid-February is the best time to witness the lake’s breathtaking blue and emerald ice. The ice’s cracks and bubbles are clearly visible, adding to the lake’s mystical allure. Walking on the transparent ice, with the blue waters underneath, is an experience akin to stepping onto Lake Baikal.

Travel Tips for Exploring Pumo Yumtso and Its Surroundings


Understanding the Spiritual Legacy of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche)

Padmasambhava, a pivotal figure in Tibetan Buddhism and particularly revered in the Nyingma sect, was an 8th-century Indian monk. Born as “Padmakara” and also known as “Guru Rinpoche,” he hailed from Uddiyana (now in Pakistan), often referred to as “Shakya Simha” or “Lotus King.” Invited by Tibetan King Trisong Detsen, Padmasambhava played a crucial role in the initial spread of Buddhism in Tibet.

He subdued local spirits and founded Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, and ordained the first seven Tibetan monks, known as the “Seven Enlightened Men.” Nyingma practitioners revere him as the “Second Buddha.” On every 10th day of the Tibetan calendar, rituals are held in his honour, practising his teachings for significant spiritual merit.

Exploring the Sacred Pumo Yumtso: Practical Tips


Accessing Pumo Yumtso:

The journey from Nagarze County to the sacred lake covers 86.5 km (County to Dranang Town 30.5 km, then to Pumo Yumtso 56 km). From Lhodrak County, the lake is over 50 km away. The area is accessible by private car or hired vehicle. Expect to pay around 500-600 yuan for a chartered vehicle from Nagarze and about 450 yuan from Lhodrak

Cultural and Scenic Highlights:

The Dui Monastery, uniquely perched on a cliff, offers a special view of the lake. Inside the monastery, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the lake’s breathtaking scenery.

Visitor Experience:

Currently, the area is less crowded, providing a serene experience amidst stunning landscapes. Visitors can choose to return to Nagarze County for accommodation on the same day. For a more immersive experience, consider staying overnight in a local Tibetan village near the lake to experience the local culture and lifestyle. This journey offers a blend of spiritual heritage and natural beauty, making it an enriching experience for travellers seeking both tranquillity and cultural insight.

About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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