Shangri-La, Yunnan: Paradise and the Search for Enlightenment

Climbing to the Songzanlin Lama Temple outside of Shangrila, Yuunan, China (2012)

Climbing to the Songzanlin Lama Temple outside of Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision long, long ago. I foresaw a time when man exalting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world, that every book, every treasure would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing. Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other. The time must come, my friend, when brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword. For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life. And it is our hope that they may find it here.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1934)

August 14-15 & 17-18, 2012

Attraction List:

  • Tiger Leaping Gorge (August 14)
  • Shangri-La cultural show (August 14)
  • Songzanlin Lama Temple (August 15)
  • Shudu Lake and natural park (August 17)

After saying our farewells to Lijiang, we continued on our journey along the Tea and Horse Road (Southwest Silk Road) toward Shangri-La— the closest city to the China-Tibetan border.

Farmland and country homes on our way to Shangri-La (2012)

Farmland and country homes on our way to Shangri-La (2012)

Our ride took us between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain to the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

 

Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain (2012)

Tiger Leaping Gorge between the Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain (2012)

Standing on the viewing deck, the rough water currents in the narrow gorge roar like a thousand tigers charging toward you. The energy of the water is a reminder of the great strength of nature.

The rushing waters at the Tiger Leaping Gorge from the Shangri-La side (2012)

The rushing waters further down the Tiger Leaping Gorge from the Shangri-La side (2012)

Yak butter tea and other Tibetan snacks at the Shangri-La Cultural Show. Try at your own risk! (2012)

Yak butter tea and other Tibetan snacks at the Shangri-La Cultural Show. Try at your own risk! (2012)

The city of Shangri-La was reasonably developed. However, the roads were not as developed. Many people traveled by motor vehicles, bicycle, or scooters. The people in this city are primarily Tibetan and Chinese but mostly of mixed origin.

We saw the Shangri-La cultural show, which allowed us to witness Tibetan dance, music, and singing. We also had the opportunity to try yak butter tea, cheese, green tea, and other snacks. We mainly tried the green tea since everything else was exposed to the air for an undetermined period of time.

Gentlemen in their colorful finery as well at the Shangri-La Cultural Show (2012)

Gentlemen in their colorful finery as well at the Shangri-La Cultural Show (2012)

Ladies dancing in colorful costumes at the Shangri-La Cultural Show (2012)

Ladies dancing in colorful costumes at the Shangri-La Cultural Show (2012)

The Tibetan lifestyle, according to our guide Sissy, consisted of caring for family and yak herds. The Tibetans herded yaks freely from place to place in February through October but when winter comes, they mainly stayed in one place to care for family.

A wooden Tiebtan house, Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

A wooden Tiebtan house in the making, Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

Building wooden houses in villages can take up to five years due to the herding lifestyle. Women were expected to serve the family by cooking and caring for the young and old. Men were the ones who herded and cared for the yaks.

The main religion of the Tibetans is Buddhism. Many Buddhist temples can be found in this region of Yunnan. We visited the largest temple in this region known as the Songzanlin Lama Temple.

Songzanlin Lama Temple in Shangri-La (2012)

Songzanlin Lama Temple in Shangri-La (2012)

The golden roofed temple was built in 1679 and very wealthy due to donations of gold jewelry by its patrons. One can see several sculptures and wall paintings depicting the Buddhist deities as well as copper stupas.

A view inside the Songzanlin Lama Temple in Shangri-La (2012)

A view inside the Songzanlin Lama Temple in Shangri-La (2012)

For the following days after, we were to go on a pilgrimage to the Meili (Prince) Snow Mountain—the most sacred mountains according to Tibetan Buddhism— to see the Mingyong glacier.

On our last day in Shangri-La, we visited Shudu Lake. It is considered one of the “pearls” of Shangri-La. Its natural scenery is said to have been a broken mirror scattered by a fairy. The lake is well known for its unique species of fish with double lips and golden color as well as other animal species. In the spring and summer, the fields serve as grazing areas for sheep and cattle. We were lucky to be able to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Shudu Lake, Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

Shudu Lake, Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

Woods of Shudu Lake, Yuunan, China (2012)

Woods of Shudu Lake, Yuunan, China (2012)

Afterwards, we visited the city of Shangri-La and enjoyed the nightlife there.

City square of Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

City square of Shangri-La, Yuunan, China (2012)

References

China Great Travel. (2015, January 11). Shudu Lake, Shangri-La travel. Retrieved from http://www.yunnantrip.com/zhongdian/shudu-lake.htm

China Travel Guide. (2014, December 30). Shangri-La. Retrieved from http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/yunnan/shangri-la/

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  1. Pingback: Travels in China 2012: Overview | 出行 Journey

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