Shangri-la, a popular word after World War II and
one frequently adopted by stores, hotels and restaurants,
signifies a "heaven away from the turmoil of the mundane word".
Actually, "Shangri-la" is a Tibetan word, which means "land of
sacredness and peace."
The word "Shangri-la" first appeared in its
westernized form in James Hiltom's novel The Lost Horizon. This
book tells the story of three American pilots who, when flying
over the Sino-Indian air route during World War II, crash-land in
the midst a beautiful landscape. This place of tranquility and
peace is described as having "snow mountains, grasslands, Tibetan
people, red soil plateaus, with three rivers flowing traversing
the landscape". After being rescued by the local Tibetan people,
the three American pilots finally return home.
According to the historical record, in 1944 there
was indeed an American transport plane which crashed in the town
of Zhongdian within Yunnan province while flying over the
Sino-Indian air route. After a careful investigation into these
events, it was determined that the beautiful "Shangri-la"
described in "The Lost Horizon" is, in fact, the city of Zhongdian,
located in the Deqen Tibentan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan
Even Today, Zhongdian County remains an untainted
natural paradise which retains a mysterious and bewitching
Visitors to the Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
are sure to find themselves in a land where mysterious tranquility
pervades every inch of the ever-changing scenery.
Three snow-capped mountains, Meili, Baimang and
Haba, tower magnificently over the landscape. The region is
crisscrossed by the Golden Sand, Mekong, and Yangtze Rivers. These
snowy peaks form a beautiful backdrop whose beauty is a feast to
behold. Mirror-like lakes, scattered across the vast expanse of
grassland, look like rich jewels inlaid on a beautiful tapestry.
Cattle graze leisurely in the meadows, where exotic flowers and
luxuriant grass wave at the request of the gentle breeze. In the
depths of the surrounding forests is an exotic world of rare birds
Mother Nature has endowed Shangri-la with bountiful
natural wealth, making the land a happy home for the 100,000
Tibetans, Lisus, Naxis and Yis who call the area their home. As is
this pristine natural
environment, these nationalities are all
kind, honest, extremely hospitable to outsiders. The lamasery of
"Shangri-la" is Guihua Temple, or Songzanlin Lamasery in Tibet.
The lamasery, with 800 lamas, resembles Potala Palace of Lhasa in
its layout. The five-story Tibetan style building is covered with
wooden carvings and gold-plated copper tiles. You may have a look
at the Gallery of Tibetan Religion and Culture in Deqen.