Shangri-La means "ideal heaven" in Tibetan. Tibetan language documents had recorded this word more than a thousand years ago. Shangri-la became famous after the novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1900 – 1954) published in 1933. In May 1931, during the British Raj in India, owing to a revolution, the 90 white residents of Baskul were being evacuated to Peshawar, Pakistan, by air. However, the plane was flown instead over the mountains to Tibet in China. After a crash landing, the pilot died. They saw a magnificent place surrounded by snow mountains, a grand canyon in which a gold mine could be found at the bottom.
They were met by hospitality of the local people. They felt that time had lost its sense and they thought that they were in the very core of the mystery of oriental culture. The inhabitants here had very long life, they lived so leisurely to enjoy the beautiful scenery of sunshine and snow mountains. The Lama Monastery was administrating the area, but many religions coexisted here quite harmoniously. Everyone living in Shangri-la was happy and free from any anxiety. It was a heaven on earth indeed.
However, James Hilton did not locate where the place was. He only provided an ideal place for people living in his novel. Thus, an enigma had been waiting to be decoded. In 1996, the government of Yunnan Province of China set up an investigation group to do a research on the Shangri-la topic. They had a conclusion after a year of hard work. Shangri-la is located Di Qing (迪庆) in Yunnan Province, and the mystery of Shangri-la was unveiled. The stunning news was announced at a special press conference held in Di Qing on September 14, 1997.
The 3,200-meter above sea level Shangri-la is near the border of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet, and it is on the southeastern brim of the world's rooftop Tibetan Plateau, too. There are snow mountain, deep valleys, steppes, high mountain lakes and virgin forests, almost all different things from different climate zones can be seen here. In the area surrounding Shangri-la, there are more than 470 snow-coverd peaks of over 4,000 meters above sea level. Steppe pasture is like the heaven on earth. It is an excellent place seldom seen on our planet, the indigenous beauty of natural scenery is preserved and the traditional life of local Tibetan people is still maintained. Thirteen ethnic groups including Tibetan, Lisu, Han Chinese, Naxi, Yi, Bai and Hui are living in Shangri-la. Different ethnic groups have different lifestyles, costumes, architecture and wedding customs. Meili Snow Mountain , or Kawa Karpo, is a sacred mountain of Tibetan Buddhism in Deqin County in Di Qing. It is the highest mountain in Yunnan Province. Kagebo is the highest peak, which is 6,740 meters above sea level. The mountain is known as a religious meditation site.
The rainy season in Shangri-la is from May to July and September to October. When it is rainy, the road condition is not good and it is not an ideal time to go out. In winter, due to the high altitude, the temperature drips to minus seven degrees Celsius, and some hotels are without heating facilities. Mountain paths are difficult to go after snowfall and very slippery, also the icy road that local van driver may be reluctant to take you to go to your destination. Therefore, the best time to visit Shangri-la is spring. Bring adequate clothes with you during cold seasons, i.e. autumn and winter. In sunny days, the air will be quite dry and the ultraviolet rays will be so strong, to avoid tanned, sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen cream are stuffs that must be in your baggage.
The high altitude in Shangri-la can make some travelers ill, to avoid sickness, avoid strenuous actitivities, do not drink alcoholic drinks, eat more vegetables and fruits and have enough rest. Bring enough chocolate bars or some other snacks that provide adequate calories. Some hotels have oxygen flasks for five RMB each with bottle deposit 20 RMB.
You can go to Shangri-la by driving from Dali northwards about 315 kilometers along the Yunnan-Tibetan Expressway. You can reach the travelers' paradise by air, at Zhong Dian Airport (中甸飞机场), take a 50 minutes flight from Kunming
, ticket fare 620 RMB. Now there are direct flights from Chengdu and Lhasa
. By coach, it may takes about 12 hours to reach your destination. You can start at Kunming Coach Station, at 8:20AM local time, fare is 171 RMB. There are also coaches from Lijiang and Dali.
The beautiful snow mountains will be extremely good to see after a few consecutive rainy days, the sunglows and the flowing white clouds are many in the azure sky. The setting sun illuminating the red clouds above the snowy mountains is magnificent. The religious culture in Shangri-la is mysterious. Different religions and sects, such as Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, have been coexisting harmoniously. This is rarely seen on our living planets. The dances and songs in Di Qing area are renowned throughout the world. The Tibetans are the genius in this field with their beautiful costumes. The Lisu's foot dance is also an eye-catching performance. Take part in Tibetan New Year activities and the Horse Racing Festival in May will make your Shangri-la tour memorable. Folk handicrafts are worth to buy when you are in Shangri-la tour, Tibetan carpets, Tibetan knifes, bronze and silver wares are refined artworks. Tibetan medicine, pictographs of ethnic Dongba group and local primitive religions' totems incarnate the charm of the tourist attraction.
Suolima Wine is something like beer. The taste is fresh and cool, but do not drink too much in such a high altitude. Tibetan cakes mostly made of wheat flour and ghee are the best food made by local people.
Butter Tea (or Ghee Tea) is an important drink for local Tibetans. The making of this special tea is quite simple, first put tea into a pot, add ghee, salt and herbs, and then stir it many times to make it becomes creamy, and it can be served. For local families, they drink this tea at least three times a day. This is to add calorie to body, that is to make you strong enough to brave the cold in high altitude area.
Tibetan Yogurt ("Shuo" in local language) is made from milk, it helps your digestion and provides you longevity!
Tsampa (roasted barley) is so nutritious, often eaten with buttered tea. It is a traditional staple food for Tibetan pilgrims.
Tibetan mutton is traditionally for men after a hard day of hunting in the countryside. When a man has killed animals and brought them home, his wife will prepare a mutton dish with egg yolk, white sugar, wine, vegetable oil and butter. The mutton dish is delicious and sweet.
Local style hot pot does not originate solely from Tibetan but a kind of mixed stuff from many local ethnic minorities. Wild Tibetan vegetables, yam, pig stomach, bean curd, cooked hams and agaric are mostly used ingredients for the hot pot dish.
|Tibetan Yogurt||Butter Tea|
|Tibetan Beef||Tibetan Food|
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