Cultural Exchange Activities of Presenting China to the World”-- a series of activities of “the Most Beautiful China” step into a place where dreams start · Shangri-La of the world.
Shangri-La, which means “the sun and the moon in one’s heart” in Tibetan, is located in the northwest of Yunnan Province. It is the “Big Triangle” region of Yunnan Province, Sichuan Province, and Tibet. As a world natural heritage, Shangri-La is a bright pearl of the national “Three Parallel Rivers in Yunnan Protected Areas”. The inhabitants of Shangri-La are mainly Tibetans. And it has vast territory, abundant resources, rich cultural scenery and natural landscape. As a rare pure land on which both the natural ecology and traditional culture are well-preserved, it is the last paradise on earth described in the world-renowned novel Lost Horizon.
In 1933, James Hilton first described “Shangri-La” in his novel Lost Horizon. In the book, Shangri-La is depicted as a permanently peaceful and tranquil land situated among far away oriental mountains. The inhabitants in Shangri-La are mainly Tibetan people. Although they have different beliefs and customs such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, they live harmoniously together in unity, love, and friendship. In Shangri-La, people all follow the virtue of “moderation”. Both of excess and inadequacy are considered sins and only moderation is the most perfect. Shangri-La is a place where different ethnic groups, religions, cultures, climates, and geographical features can co-exist. Henceforth, Shangri-La, a happy land on earth, has become a synonym of “the garden of Eden”, “peach garden isolated from the outside world” , and “Utopia”.
Shangri-La has a long history and profound cultural background. On this tranquil land, we can see the quiet lakes, sacred temples, and the simple Kangba people there. Dukezong Old Town (“Dukezong” means white-stone or moonlight city in Tibetan), which is the production of the magnificent history, has been a road for tea-horse trade of Yunnan Province, Sichuan Province and Tibet, a window for cultural exchanges between the hometown of Tibetans in snow-covered area and ethnic groups in Yunnan province. It bridges the friendships between the Han and Tibetan ethnic groups. It serves as a tie which connects the “Big Triangle” of Yunnan, Tibet, and Sichuan Province. Now, it has the largest and best-preserved Tibetan residential houses. Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, a production of the splendid civilization, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province, one of the most famous great monasteries in Kangba Tibetan region and also the central place of Gelug in Sichuan and Yunnan Province. It plays a significant role in the whole Tibetan region, and has a reputation of “Little Potala Palace”. It was built in 1679 AD and completed in 1681 AD. Looking from the outside, it looks just like an old castle. And It was named by the Fifth Dalai Lama. It synthesized the best of the formative arts of Tibetan ethnic group, so it was also called the “Museum of Tibetan Art”.
Shangri-La is a harmonious society full of ethnic customs. You can experience the Tibetan customs without going to Tibet. In Shangri-La, The Tibetans, major ethinc group in Shangri-La, live harmoniously and happily together with dozens of other ethnic groups including the Han, Naxi, Yi, Bai, and Lisu. Different ethnic groups retain their own styles of traditions regarding lifestyles, clothes, residential houses, and weddings. Therefore, each ethnic group formed their own unique styles. Typical Tibetan delicacies include “Suolima Wine”, “Tibetan Style Cakes”, “Butter Tea”, “Tsampa”, “Lute-shaped Pork”, and “Guoben Hot Pot”; dances of different ethnic groups are fabulous like Guozhuang dance and Xianzi dance of Tibetan ethnic group, Achimugua and Wakeke of Lisu ethnic group, Dongba dance and Alili of Naxi ethnic group and Lusheng dance of Yi ethnic group. There are also numerous festivals in Shangri-La such as the “February 8th Festival”, Horse Racing Festival, Xianzi Festival of Shangri-La, Dengba Festival, and Gedong Festival. These festivals are all-inclusive and start one after another.
Shangri-La enjoys excellent ecological environment and wonderful natural scenery. Due to its location, where it is at the southeast edge of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, northern end in the south of Hengduan Mountains, and the central part of “Three Parallel Rivers in Yunnan Protected Area”. Shangri-La possesses not only the landscape of snow-covered mountains and valleys in the Tibetan Plateau and Tibetan flavors, but also the magnificent view of “cows and sheep can be seen when the wind blows and grass lowers” at Inner Mongolia Prairie. Therefore, it enjoys high reputations as “High Mountain Garden”, “Kingdom of Animals and Plants”, “Kingdom of Nonferrous Metals”. The Potatso National Park in Shangri-La is the first national park in mainland China. It is a park where the original ecology is perfectly preserved, including topography and geomorphology, lakes and wet lands, forests and meadows, river and streams, and rare plants and animals etc. Balagezong Scenic Spot integrates snow-covered mountains, valleys, glaciers, rivers, plateau lakes and primitive forests into a whole. Balagezong snow-covered mountain is the highest peak in Shangri-La and one of the three holy mountains in Kangba region with distinct vertical climate feature of “one mountain with four seasons”. Meri snow-covered mountain is a giant snow mountain group distributed in a north-south direction. Among this mountain group, thirteen mountains of them are at an average of 6,000 meters above the sea level, which are called the “Peaks of Thirteen Princes”. Tiger Leaping Gorge got its name from a legend which says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 metres (82 ft) wide). It is a well-known gorge ranking only second to the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in the world. And it is world-renowned by its Upper Tiger-Leaping Gorge, Middle Tiger-Leaping Gorge, and Lower Tiger-Leaping Gorge. The number of dangerous shoals at Tiger Leaping Gorge is 18 in total.
Shangri-La has been the most ideal “Treasure Land” for the Tibetan nationality since ancient times. As a Tibetan song goes, “the place that bathes in the first sunlight is the eastern Jietang; and the purest land on earth is Shangri-La along the Naizi River.”