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The Sea on the Plateau (Qinghai Lake)


Qinghai Lake, formerly known as Kukunor, is a saline and alkaline lake in an endorheic basin situated on the Tibetan Plateau in the province of Qinghai, and is the largest lake in China. The names Qinghai and Koko Nur both mean "Blue/Teal Sea/Lake" in Chinese and Mongolian. It is located about 100 kilometres west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m above sea level in a depression of the Tibetan Plateau in the cultural area known to ethnic Tibetans as Amdo.


There is an island in the western part of the lake with a temple and a few hermitages called "Mahādeva, the Heart of the Lake" which historically was home to a Buddhist monastery. No boat was used during summer, only when the lake froze over in winter could monks reach the mainland or pilgrims visit the temple - many of whom used to come from Mongolia. A nomad described the size of the island by saying that: "if in the morning a she-goat starts to browse the grass around it clockwise and its kid anti-clockwise, they will meet only in the night, which shows how big the island is."It is also known as the place where Gushri Khan and other Qoshot Mongols migrated to during the 1620s.


The lake is also sometimes circumambulated by pilgrims from the region. Przhevalsky estimated it would take about 8 days by horse or 15 walking to circumambulate the lake, but pilgrims report it takes about 18 days on horseback, and one took 23 days walking to complete the circuit.


Recommended Routes

Day1 Xining--- Kumbum Monastery

Day2 Menyuan

Day3 Qilian Mountain--- Gold and silver grassland


Day5 Bird island in Qinghai Lake




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