Namtso Lake is the highest saline lake on earth. Renowned as one of the most beautiful places in Tibet. Its cave hermitages have for centuries been the destination of Tibetan pilgrims.
Namtso has five uninhabited islands of reasonable size, in addition to one or two rocky outcrops. The islands have been used for spiritual retreat by pilgrims who walk over the lake’s frozen surface at the end of winter, carrying their food with them. They spend the summer there, unable to return to shore again until the water freezes the following winter. This practice is no longer permitted by Chinese authorities.
Sera monastery is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa (the lineage of the Dalai lama) monastic universities of Tibet, located just north of Lhasa. The other two are Ganden and Drepung monasteries.
The origin of the name ‘Sera’ is attributed to the fact that the site where the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in bloom. (se ra in Tibetan language)
During the 1959 revolt in Lhasa, Sera monastery suffered severe damage, with its colleges destroyed and hundreds of monks killed by the Chinese invader. Sera was one of the strongest pockets of resistance against the Chinese. After the Dalai Lama took asylum in India, many of the monks of the Sera monastery who survived the attack moved to Bylakuppe in Mysore, India.
The Sera monastery in Tibet and its counterpart in India are known for their energetic monk debates on the Buddha’s teachings. Sera monastery developed over the centuries as a renowned place of learning, training hundreds of scholars, many of whom have attained fame in the Buddhist nations.