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Eastern Tibet is blessed with many beautiful lakes but this is arguably the best of the lot. Draksum-tso Lake, and particularly its monastery island, Tsodzong Monastery, is a photographer’s dream.

Apart from the sheer beauty of the lake and its surrounding 6000m peaks, the site has strong connections to Gesar of Ling, the semi-mythical ruler of eastern Tibet, and Guru Rinpoche, the Indian sage, both of whom are said to have resided at Draksum-tso Lake.

The entrance fee to the area is payable as a toll gate 33km past the Hwy 318 turnoff at Bahel, and 4km before Draksum-tso Lake. A shuttle bus takes visitors from the gate to the lake, although it’s fine to walk.

The highlight of Draksum-tso Lake is the charming Tsodzong Monastery(the Fortress on the Lake), a small Nyingmapa chapel sited on a photogenic island just off the southern shore. This is where the shuttle bus drops you off.

Tsodzong Monastery was founded by Sangye Lingpa in the 14th century. The main chapel has statues of wrathful and peaceful Guru Rinpoche and smaller statues of Sakyamuni, Chenresig and Kongtsun Demo, a local protector, on horseback. In the corner of Tsodzong Monastery is what is said to be a stone hoofprint of Gesar’s horse. You may see Tibetans rubbing this on their backs to take advantage of its healing powers. The steps to Tsodzong Monastery are flanked by ancient-looking male and female fertility symbols.

6- to 10-person motorboats(per hour Y 400-800) leave from beside Tsodzong Monastery for trips on Draksum-tso Lake.

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