Qinghai Lake is also known as Kokonor lake and Tsongonpo in Tibetan, which means Blue lake. It is located in Qinghai province with an elevation of 3220 m above sea level. It is the largest lake in Tibet as well as the largest salt Lake in Asia. It is regarded as a holy site by Tibetans and Mongolians. In 1578, the first Dalai Lama was created by the Mongolian King Altan Khan, who gave the title Dalai Lama to Sonam Gyatso at the shores of Qinghai lake or Kokonor Lake in Mongolian.
The south shore of the lake, which 150 kilometers from Xining, is the best site for viewing the beauty of this lake; and some 220 kilometers northwest of Xining is where the Bird island located; The average depth of the Qinghai lake is 25 meters, and the deepest area goes down to 80meters. The shores of the lake and their environs are administered from four counties: Gangcha county in the west and northwest, Haiyan county in the northeast, Huangyuan county in the east, and Gonghe county in the south.
A small monastery called Tsonyang, which means the heart of the lake, is located on a small island in the center of Kokonor lake. It is an essential Tibetan Buddhism retreat hill. Only a handful of monks and nuns live on this hill, and most monks practice in the retreat caves.
Kokonor lake is also a breeding ground and a migration stop for countless bird species. The best time to see birds is between March and June. The climate surrounding is very cool. Even in the middle of the summer, the average temperature in the daytime is about 15 degrees Celsius which is why it is selected as a summer resort for tourists.
The lake offers year-round pleasure. Many prefer when it is a green and lively world. The mountains and grassland wear a green blanket with herds of cattle and sheep dispersed over the grassland. The bank is connected with stretching farmlands, prospering with blooming rape flowers and rolling with wheat waves, sending blasts of fragrance to the lake. The water here is also very limpid, reflecting the pretty green mountains in the deep like a mirror. The color changes with time and varies in different lake depths, which produces a sense of mystery, hence the name ‘Seven-Colored Lake.’ As a result of the teeming fish, the mouth of the nearby river has a yellow color to it as the fish float close to the surface. Many birds are also attracted to this beautiful lake and bountiful surroundings, resulting in a kingdom for birds’ waterbirds
When the cold winter comes, the world becomes a bit quieter and duller, but the glamour of Qinghai Lake doesn’t diminish much. At this time, the leaf-yellow mountains put on a new suit of clothes as they become blanketed with new-fallen snow. The snow and ice-covered surface of the lake shine brightly in the sun, adding another degree of beauty. The famous ‘Icy Fish’ is straightforward to catch because the ice confines them. Interestingly, when a hole is dug in the ice, it is easy to trick the fish out of the water.
There are few famous spots which are Haixin hill, Shadao, which is a sand island. And Niaodao, which is a bird island, and all islands are located in the lake. Haixin hill, also known as immortal Hill, has temples, lucid springs, and green grassland. It is said that Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) had particularly ordained officials to raise horses here. The Shandoa is famous for its sand scenery which is a good place for swimming. The Niaodao is the kingdom of birds that has over ten thousand bird species in the summer.
There are many ways to go there, by chartered vehicles, biking, and buses. If you hire a car which usually costs around 500 to 700 RMB per day and it takes around two to three days to cover the full shore of the lake. There is also a short excursion of half-day for just visiting one side of the lake. There are few famous sites for their beauty, such as Erlang Jian Scenic Zone and bird island, where it is the breeding group of birds. You can also witness the lake if you are traveling from Xining to Lhasa by train. Qinghai Lake or Kokonor lake is really a good place for travelers. Apart from embracing the heavenly beauty here, you can either stroll on the grass or ride on a yak, climb the sandhill, or be visiting the historic remains left on the Tang-Tubo ancient road or the Silk Road. If you are more sociable, the hospitable local people will warmly welcome you as you visit their homes and enjoy a taste of Tibetan life. In addition, tents and various delicious foods are provided for the tourists in the pastures.
You can enjoy some activities such as horse riding and yak riding, and these days locals arrange dirt bike riding.