Shangri-La (香格里拉)

We finally landed at the DiQing airport, 10,761 ft ( 3,280m) above sea level in Zhong Dian, province of Yunnan where it borders with Tibet and Sichuan. Allegedly, it was in Zhong Dian (now renamed Shangri-La) that the aircraft had a crashed landing in the film “Lost Horizon” based on the novel by James Hilton in 1933.

At last, we were high above the clouds!  We  were greeted by rain and snow in this land of beautiful and mysterious snow capped mountains. On reaching the hotel, we were delighted by the warmth of the place and impressed by the color and  decor of our room.

We anxiously headed out to the Lake Nappa and found that it was almost dry at this time of the year. Whilst appreciating the vastness and emptiness of the area,  a buffalo  charged quickly towards us!

In the middle of nowhere, we found this little boy, sitting terribly alone by himself, next to a small fire. I was intrigued by the scornful look on his face which was totally incompatible with the tranquility and peace which Shangri-La is known for.

In the Tibet dialect, Shangri-La  means “the sun and moon in one’s heart”.

With the air so thin at this attitude, walking up and down the hills was no easy task. We treaded slowly and breathed heavily.

We were lucky to see local people in their colorful and diverse customs walking round and round a circular golden tower, praying and chanting. It was just heavenly.

When dusk finally came, we went to a see a cultural performance. The dancers showed so much energy in their spectacular dances. The people in Shangri-La are just born dancers and singers. For the first time, we have Yak for dinner.

When we have acclimatized to the thin air, sadly,  it was time to make our move and  say goodbye to this mysterious land of mountains and we bid goodbye to all those we come to know of.

We took on our return flight descending all the way down from a high attitude of 10,761 ft towards Kunming.

As with visiting any other places, once you have been there, the place may no longer appear to be  mysterious. However, deep in my heart, it is still a Utopia; a place where you can find perfect harmony between yourself and the mountains.