Posted by: Johan Normark | March 29, 2009

Oracle Lake

My trip to China last December was not my first one to this country. In the summer of 1995 I spent three weeks in Tibet. The main goal for this trip was a six days long trek to Lhamo La-tso, the skull-shaped Oracle lake, the most sacred of lakes in Tibet. This is where Tibetan monks journey to see visions of where the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama will be reborn.

Lhamo La-tso

Lhamo La-tso

When we went there we were accompanied by other Tibetan pilgrims in search for their own visions. I for sure did not see anything, or maybe there was a hint of a total station on the shimmering surface (or maybe it was the altitude – 5300 m.a.s.). The last day of hike went from the nearby Gelugpa Chokorgyel monastery, 800 m further below. I was in a slightly better shape 14 years ago but it was quite difficult to climb the last hundred meters up to the rim from where you could see the lake, roughly 150 m further below. The lookout is covered by silk scarves.

At the viewpoint

At the viewpoint

It is 50 years since the Dalai Lama left Lhasa and fled to India. In the following Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) thousands of Tibetan temples and monasteries were demolished. I visited Tibet during turbulent times. The then recently appointed Panchen Lama (the second highest lama in Tibet, appointed by the Dalai Lama) had been kidnapped by the Chinese who appointed their own Panchen Lama. Panchen Lama’s residence is the Tashilunpo monastery in Shigatse and we could not visit this large monastery which holds 4000 monks. Police and soldiers kept the monks inside the monastery and would not allow any visitors.

According to tradition, it is the Panchen Lama who has the responsibility to find the next Dalai Lama. Since the Chinese has their own Panchen Lama installed it will for sure cause dire political problems when the current Dalai Lama passes away.

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