Lhamo La-tso or Lhamo Latso (Tibetan:ལྷ་མོའི་བླ་མཚོ།, Wylie: Lha mo bla mtsho), the small oval 'Oracle Lake', is where senior Tibetan monks go for visions to assist in the discovery of reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas. Other pilgrims also come to seek visions. It is considered to be the most sacred lake in Tibet. Coordinates: 29°31′N 92°44′E
It is also known as "The Life-Spirit-Lake of the Goddess", the goddess being Palden Lhamo, the principal Protectress of Tibet. Other names include: Tso Lhamo (mTsho Lha mo), Chokhorgyelgi Namtso (Chos 'khor rgyal gyi gnam mtsho) and Makzorma (dmag zor ma) and, on old maps, as Cholamo.
Oracle or Vision Lake
It is said that Palden Lhamo, as the female guardian spirit of the sacred lake, Lhamo La-tso, promised Gendun Drup, the 1st Dalai Lama in one of his visions "that she would protect the reincarnation lineage of the Dalai Lamas." Ever since the time of Gendun Gyatso, the 2nd Dalai Lama, who formalised the system, the Regents and other monks have gone to the lake to seek guidance on choosing the next reincarnation through visions while meditating there.
The particular form of Palden Lhamo at Lhamo La-tso is Gyelmo Maksorma, "The Victorious One who Turns Back Enemies". The lake is sometimes referred to as "Pelden Lhamo Kalideva", which indicates that Palden Lhamo is an emanation of the goddess Kali, the shakti of the Hindu god Siva.
"Lhamo Latso . . . [is] a brilliant azure jewel set in a ring of grey 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."
It was here that in 1935, the Regent, Reting Rinpoche, received a clear vision of three Tibetan letters and of a monastery with a jade-green and gold roof, and a house with turquoise roof tiles, which led to the discovery of Tenzin Gyatso, the present 14th Dalai Lama.
The lake is in Gyaca County, Lhokha to the southeast of Lhasa, Tibet, and a four-hour hike from the Gelugpa Chokorgyel Monastery at an altitude of about 5,300 m. (17,388 ft) and covers an area of only about 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq mi).
Chokorgyel Monastery itself is about 115 kilometres (71 mi) northeast of Tsetang and about 160 km (99 mi) southeast of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,500 m (14,764 ft)
The old path from Chokorgyel Monastery used to be paved to make access easier for the senior monks wishing to visit the lake. Halfway along is a diamond-shaped pond fed by glaciers known as Yoni Lake. On a ridge near the top of the pass overlooking the lake a ritual shökde or throne was built for the Dalai Lamae he once sat to divine the future while gazing into the lake about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) in front and 150 metres (490 ft) lower down. Nowadays it is buried under a mound of silk scarves (hadak).
Many pilgrims come each year to Lhamo-tso believing that, with proper devoutness, and after fasting for three 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 (rGyal mo dMag zor ma) or Machik Pelha Shiwai Nyamchen (Ma gcig dPal lh Zhi ba'i nyams can), 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.
There is a kora or pilgrimage walk around the lake.