Tangra Yumtso Lake


Start towards southwest from Nyima country, after 8 kilometers turn left at the crossroad. Go straight in the south direction about 80 kilometers, and cross a mountain pass at about elevation 5 kilometers, and you’ll arrive at Tangra Yumtso lake basin.


Lake Tangra Yumtso is considered as a holy lake in Bon Religion followers. Lake Tangra Yumtso lies in the deep lake basin bottom, next to Tangra Chotso. Actually, they are in the same lake basin. It is said that they were the same lake long time ago. That is how the name, Tangra Qonco comes. In Tibetan, Tangra Chotso means little Tangra Yumtso. It is said that water of the lake may change into three different colors a day. In the west bank, there stand continuous dark red cliffs, just like a row of screen. These cliffs clearly recorded every water decline in Lake Tangra Yumco. Stone steps eroded by the lake water surround the lake round in round from the top mountain at the lakeshore to the lakefront. Go ahead from Lake Tangra chontso, after about 5 kilometers, and you’ll see the most famous holy lake in the north Tibet: Lake Tangra Yumtso.

Tangra Yunco runs from south to north, shaping like a big shoe. The lake is surrounded on three sides by mountain, with only a gap at Dargo Mountain in the south lakeshore. There are seven peaks in Dargo Mountain, just like seven neatly ranked pyramids. The mountain together with the Lake Tangra Yumco is respected as the holy place by Bon Religion followers. Beside the lake there is a monastery, Yubon Monastery, built in the scarp cave. It is said that Yubon Monastery is the oldest one in Bon Religion.

At the shore of Lake Tangra Yumco, there is a small village with nearly 100 households, Wenbu. Majority of the villagers live partly on agriculture, partly on livestock. They explored a little field on the lakeshore and plant qingke, tomatoes, cole and green Chinese cabbages etc. It’s amazing to see these plants being planted in the place above elevation 4,500 meters, thanks to the Lake District climate.

Wenbu villagers show no fear of either earthquakes or active volcanic mountain. In the eyes of the villagers, Wenbu is the paradise most suitable for them to multiply.

Located in north Tibet, Wenbu is not cold in winter at all. When we are there, we do not need to wear the heavy coat necessary in other parts of north Tibet. In that part of the world, you may find qingke barley wine thriving. This is unusual in north Tibet, whose fierce climate makes growing the barley almost impossible. The per-hectare yield reaches 3,000 kg.

A legend among Wenbu Villagers

Long, long ago, people living here did not grow highland barley. To eke out a living, they drove sheep fully loaded with salt to the remote farming areas to exchange for barley. Given the long distance involved, they still could not get enough to eat.

One couple-Dargo Mountain and Tangra Yumtso Lake-were uneasy about seeing this tragedy. The husband-Holy Mountain of Dargo went on an expedition and seized a bag of highland barley from chushu. As he fought his way back, an arrow hit his bag of barley. The qingke barley spilled out from the hole made by the arrow. When he met his wife-Tangra Yumco Lake, only a handful of barley were left, so he scattered this by the lake, and his wife watered the field with her milk. This produced the thriving fields of barley in the village.

As a token of gratitude for the couple, Wenbu people have since ancient times been worshiping the holy mountain and holy lake by offering sacrifices to them before spring plowing and autumn harvesting. Sacrifices offered include wine brewed with local barley.

Bon Religion

At the entrance of Wenbu Village you can find a Sutra Wheel Spinning House furnished with a giant sutra tube for worshippers to spin. Unlike those in other parts of Tibet, they turn the tube leftward in silence. Worshippers of the Bon religion spin sutra wheels or tubes leftward. In Tibetan, Bon means substance, implying that the Bon religion is a religion for all in the universe. It is hence the oldest religion in the world.

Songs relating to the leftward spinning of sutra wheels or tubes unique to the Bon religion coincides with the movement of the earth around the sun. Such logic is found also in rock paintings found in Ritog. Thus, it would seem to have much to do with the movement of the solar system, but no one can find clearly explain it today.

Legend has it that the Bon religion, founded by Tunba Sinrao, has 108 volumes of Gangyur and 280 volumes of Dangyur. Gangyur that include the teachings of the Bon religious founder on the origin of the universe, biographies of worshippers, prayer words and rules. Dangyur includes religious rituals, explanations to teachings by Bon religious founders, and contents related to logics, medicine and industrial arts.

The Bon religion has been passed down through history orally or by hiding a considerable amount of sutras in mountain caves or rock cracks in central, southern and northern Tibet.
It is said that when an eminent monk of the Bon religion practiced divination in a mountain close to Wenbu, he saw a vision of the founder who orally passed him the Dangla Garcha, a Bon sutra, Dangla Garcha refers to A Laud to Dangla, which depicts a goddess riding a white lion and donned in the best dresses in the world. Accompanied by many heavenly maids she descended from the heaven to Tangra Yumtso Lake. As she reached the lake, the vast skies were irradiated with colorful rays. And when the goddess reached the bottom of the lake, a fantastic city appeared.

To bless the world, the goddess invited heavenly treasures to be buried in various parts of Tibet.
The eminent monk recorded all he was told and his records turned out to be a much favored sutra book of the Bon religion.


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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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