“Shangri-La” – just the mere mention of this name would conjure images in my mind of a mystical city located in some highly inaccessible ranges of the Himalayas and filled with secrets, known to but a few chosen ones. Though in realty, it is located in the northwest Yunnan Province, in the Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Called Zhongdian in Mandarin and Galthang in Tibetan, Shangri-La is the name given by the Chinese tourism authorities to this city after James Hilton’s novel – The Lost Horizon. Though I haven’t read the book, I recently got a chance to visit this city and drive around its surrounding countryside. This area provides a quick glimpse into the Tibetan life and culture, and I am sharing these via a photo essay with you today –
1. Stunning Vistas – Shangri-La is at an average height of around 3,000 – 4,000 m and has beautiful mountain ranges and views as far as the eye can see.
2. Stupas and Prayer Flags – Tibetans follow Buddhism and you can see many small white stupas and prayer flags all around.
3. Farms and Drying Hay Racks – Farming seemed to be the primary source of income here and when we visited, there were huge drying racks outside every house with hay, corn, mushrooms etc drying for storage and subsequent winter consumption.
4. Local Tibetan Houses – Tibetan houses are huge, made of wood, of 2 – 3 floors with a large courtyard and intricate wooden carving throughout the structure. Some houses also have traditional Tibetan motifs painted around the door and window frames.
5. Local Flora and Fauna – Tibet has many unique plants and animals of its own that you see all around. But when we were there, there was this red bush / grass growing everywhere.
Stunning and unique, isn’t it?