One of the most important pilgrimage destinations, Lhamo La-tso has been revered for centuries as an oracle lake.
The Dalai Lamas have traditionally made pilgrimages to Lhamo La-tso to seek visions that appear on its surface. The Tibetan regent journeyed to the lake in 1993 after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama and had a vision of a monastery of the present Dalai Lama. The lake is considered the home of the protectress Palden Lhamo.
The gateway to Lhamo La-tso is the dramatic, but mostly ruined Chokorgye Monastery. Founded in 1509 by the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso, the monastery served later Dalai Lamas and regents as a staging post for visits to the lake. On the nearby slope is a mani wall that consecrates a footprint stone of the 2nd Dalai Lama.
Just short of the mountain pass that overlooks Lhamo La-tso is a ritual throne built for the Dalai Lama. It is now buried under a mound of silk scarves. It’s a 15-minute walk from the silk scarves to the pass and another 5.5 hours to get down the lake (roughly 3.5 km in total), which is encircled by a kora. The lake is a perfect place to camp and spending a night here allows you to watch the dramatic weather patterns change overhead; the micro-climate here ensures that the weather is in constant flux.
Many pilgrims come each year to Lhamo La-tso believing that, with proper devoutness, and after fasting for 3 days and refraining from talk, they will be rewarded with a revelation of their future in the skull-shaped mirror of the lake.
Previously there was a temple to Maksorma or Machik Pelha Shiwai Nyamchen, an unusually peaceful form of Palden Lhamo, at the eastern end of the lake which is now marked only by prayer flags and offerings left by pilgrims.
Lhamo La-tso is a brilliant azure jewel set in a ring of gray mountains. The elevation and the surrounding peaks combine to give it a highly changeable climate, and the continuous passage of cloud and wind creates a constantly moving pattern on the surface of the waters. On that surface visions appear to those who seek them in the right frame of mind.