Yamdo tso or Lake Palti


This view of the Yamdo tso (or Lake Palti), seen from K'ambe la Pass (also seen as Khamba la Pass in other sources), is from a collection of 50 photographs of central Tibet acquired in 1904 from the Imperial Russian Geographical Society in Saint Petersburg by the American Geographical Society. The snow peak seen in the distance is the Nui-jin-kang Jar'oz (also seen as Nui-jin kang-zang) or Hao-kang-sang (also seen as Kao-kang-sang). In Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet (1902), Sarat Chandra Das recounts the legend of the lake: “When in the eighteenth century, the Jungars invaded Tibet; their wrath was especially turned against the lamaseries and monks of the Nyingma sect. There then lived in Palti djong [the town of Palti] a learned and saintly lama, called Palti Shabdung, well versed in all the sacred literature, and proficient in magic arts. Hearing that the invaders had crossed the Nabso la and were marching on Palti, he, by his art, propitiated the deities of the lake who caused the waters of the lake to appear to the Jungar troops like a plain of verdure, so that they marched into the lake and were drowned, to the number of several thousands. Another corps which had advanced by the Khamba la, not finding the troops which had gone by the Nabso la, retraced their steps, and so the town of Palti was saved.” The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, G.Ts. Tsybikov and Ovshe (O.M.) Norzunov, who visited Tibet in 1900 and 1901. Accompanying the photos is a set of notes written in Russian for the Imperial Russian Geographical Society by Tsybikov, Norzunov, and other Mongolians familiar with central Tibet. Alexander Grigoriev, corresponding member of the American Geographical Society, translated the notes from Russian into English in April 1904.

Last updated: March 22, 2016