The hunting for Shangrila has been one of the favorite sports of Chinese travel literature in recent years.
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The title of “real Shangrila” was played at the end by three towns, Bingzhongluo, Deqen (Diqing or Deqing), and Zhongdian. In the end, apparently, it was the latter who snatched this name. Shangrila was in fact only a symbolic place created by the British writer James Hilton in the 1933 Lost Horizon book.
In the book, “Shangri-La” is a mystical place, a harmonious valley, led by wise monks near the Kunlun mountain range. By the time, the term has also taken on the meaning of a heavenly place, isolated from the rest of the world. Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan, in any case well interpreted the idealized Shangri-la literary features. Although this analogy today has made it an even more desirable destination for the Mainland tourist groups and has been widely sold to boost this resource.
Deqen – Diqing 迪庆
“It is in the oriental Jiantang that the sun shines the earliest; it is in Shangri-la beside the Naizi River that people enjoy the most leisurely life.” “Shangri-la” is the the transliteration of the Tibetan language, meaning “the sun and the moon in the heart” which symbolizes an ideal living place.The most spectacular and rare low latitude mountainous glaciers and snow mountains are distributed in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Thirteen peaks of the Meili Snow Mountain, ranges after ranges, span the whole prefecture. Kawagebo Peak located at an elevation of 6,740 meters, is still a “virgin peak”, ranking the first among the 8 Tibetan Buddhism holy mountains. There are lots of big or small grass pastures and plains on which the local people live and multiply. Over there the quietly flowing water pooled in lakes—-among which the Bita Lake, Napa Lake, and Shudu Lake are the most attractive. The monasteries including Gedan Songzanlin Monastery and Dongzhulin Monastery are especially majestic and holy.
Best tour time
From April to July, you may appreciate azaleas of 160 kinds in red, yellow, white and purple, etc, which only grow on the snowy plateau and see diversified creatures in Shangri-la. From May to September, it is the best season to visit the colorful grassy marshland. You may enjoy the wonderful sight of flowers, yaks, and goats. From September to October, you may view the golden autumn scenery，plateau red，a flower also named Langdu, blue sky, white clouds and bright starry sky on the snowy plateau similar to Chinese watercolour paintings. From November to April of the next year, the winter in Shangri-la is spectacular, Mingyong Glacier is undulate, Kawagebo Peak glitters in the sunshine in the early morning, the primeval forest is dressed in white snow, the grassy marshland becomes a silver white world. Then Shangri-la is a fairyland in winter.
Diqing is 706 kilometers from Kunming.
Air: From Kunming to Shangri-la, the total fare is ¥700. Five flights every day. 50 minutes are needed for the air travel.
Highway: 1. It is 709 kilometers from Kunming to Shangri-la County by bus. It passes by Chuxiong and Dali. The tourists may take buses to Diqing from Kunming. There are 4 couchette buses every day with the fare of ¥145, departing time13:00-18:00. There are 3 buses at Panjiawan Buses Station and 1 bus at Nanyao Station. You may first take a plane to Dali or Lijiang, then take buses to Shangri-la County. The tourists may take a plane to Shangri-la County from Kunming if you are in a hurry.
- It is 180 kilometers from Lijiang to Shangri-la County. There are 3-5 buses from 7:00-15:00. You may take couchette bus to Dali from Kunming. There are 30 buses in each large transport station of Kunming from 18:00-22:00.
- It is 300 kilometers from Dali to Shangri-la. It costs ￥75 to take a middle bus.
4.the railway from Sichuan to Diqing: No.117/118(the West Station of Beijing)and No.203/204 (Chongqing) express arrive in and depart from Panzhihua, No.165/166(Kunming-Xi’an)and No.207/208(Kunming-Chengdu) express pass by. Four expresses altogether.
- the highway from Sichuan to Diqing: It is 470 kilometers from Panzhihua to Shangri-la County, the fair is ￥120 for a night bus and ￥80 for a seat. Couples of buses depart from Panzhihua(Jinjiang) Railway Station.
ghee tea, Pipa Pork, the Tibetan cakes, highland barley liquor, oil fried China Cordyceps, oil Matsutake Mushroom, cheese, yak meat, buckwheat pancake, Zanba, Tuotuo Pork, corn porridge, oil fried rice ball, Paca, Weixi Beancurd, liver with chilly, mushrooms, edible wild herbs, medicinal dishes
What to see in Deqen
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Photos: Oliver Huang
CHINA-UNDERGROUND. Matteo Damiani is an Italian sinologist, photographer, author and motion designer. Matteo lived and worked for ten years in China. Founder of CinaOggi.it and China-underground.com.