There is a tradition in Tibetan folklore of beyul -- secret or hidden
lands, usually described as valleys. The tradition of the Himalayan
Buddhist Elders -- the Nyingmapa -- says that Guru Rinpoche empowered 108 of
these havens, places where there was peace and prosperity, and spiritual
progress was facilitated.
This article deals mainly with Pemako, Shambhala (or, Shambala) and
Shangri-la. There are many more -- real, legendary, mythological,
Lotus-land or Pemako is somewhere on the border of East Tibet and Assam in northeast
India. Terma or hidden teachings describing the way to
Pemako were revealed by Rigdzin Jetsun Nyingpo (1585-1656) and also by Rigdzin Dudu1 Dorje
- Pemako neyig
revealed in 1959 to Khamtrul Jamyang Dondrup Rinpoche.
Nov. 23/04, SF Gate review of The Heart of the World:
A Journey to the Last Secret Place by Ian Baker; introduction by the Dalai Lama:
For nearly 2,000 years, the notion of an earthly paradise hidden among the peaks of Asia has
captivated the human imagination. In the fourth or fifth century C.E., a Chinese poet named Tao
Qian wrote of a peach blossom path that a fisherman follows to a secret tunnel. On the other side
of the passage lies a lavish spiritual oasis, the first hint of James Hilton's "Shangri-La."
Fifteen centuries after Tao Qian, British explorers combed the canyons of southern Tibet for just
such a beyul, a "hidden land" of bliss and nectar that, as described in ancient Buddhist texts,
lay in a sacred range called Pemako.
Enlivening their search was a geographical oddity. Deep in that remote region of Tibet, the mighty
Tsangpo River, which flows onto the Indian subcontinent as the Brahmaputra, churns around a great
bend. The river then disappears from sight, lost in an inaccessible canyon flanked by sheer
cliffs. This "Five Mile Gap" had never been explored and was believed to boast the highest
waterfall in Asia -- the "Hidden Falls of the Brahmaputra." Behind those cascades, Tibetan texts
claimed, lay the door to Yangsang, the ultimate hidden land of immortality, reachable only by
those with purified hearts and minds.
Ian Baker, a Kathmandu-based writer, explorer and Tantric scholar (and a close colleague and
confidant during many of my own Himalayan adventures), first learned of beyuls in 1977, while
studying Buddhist scroll painting in Nepal. They quickly became an obsession, and in subsequent
audiences with high Buddhist lamas, he refined his understanding of how one might reach them.
The Dalai Lama, in one of several audiences, assured Baker that it would take more than a good
compass. Only after mastering their innermost depths, His Holiness said, could Buddhist
practitioners gain entrance to these hidden realms. Beyuls do exist on earth, Baker was assured,
but lie beyond the range of our ordinary senses. "It's a bit like quantum physics," the Dalai Lama
explained, "which recognizes parallel dimensions and multiple universes."
With a degree of conviction almost unimaginable in this age of attention deficit disorder, Baker
began his do-or-die search for Yangsang. Guided by Chatral Rinpoche -- a Gandalf-like lama who had
gained some knowledge of Pemako's secrets -- Baker began a series of long, solitary retreats in
remote Himalayan caves, subsisting on dried meats and grains. He continued to live and study in
Kathmandu, learning the Tibetan language and poring over terma, long-concealed texts that, like
weathered treasure maps, provide clues to the whereabouts of the hidden lands.
Baker made his first trip into the Tsangpo area in April 1993 as a member -- in body, if not in
spirit -- of Rick Fisher's expedition to raft the merciless waters of the gorge. Along with a
fellow expedition member named Ken Storm Jr., Baker separated from Fisher's luckless group. The
two men (along with local porters and Mr. Gunn, as their plaintive Chinese guide Geng Quanru
called himself) spent weeks thrashing through the Pemako jungles, attempting to access the
still-hidden corners of the Tsangpo.
True to the warnings of sages and explorers, Pemako itself was far from "the Promised Land of
Tibetan prophecy" that British explorer Frank Kingdon Ward had sought in 1924. Even Kingdon Ward,
a botanist who loved Pemako, wrote of the "perpetual rain, snakes and wild animals, giant stinging
nettles and myriads of biting and blood-sucking ticks, hornets, flies and leeches," none of which
spared Baker and Storm.
But Pemako, according to Buddhist tradition, is more than its rocks, swamps and leeches. It is the
earthly representation of a Tibetan goddess named Dorje Pagmo. Each cliff, cave and waterway is
part of her body. Between 1993 and 1998, Baker, accompanied sometimes by the cerebral Storm and
often by his rakish friend and fellow scholar-explorer Hamid Sardar, would make half a dozen
expeditions through her anatomy.
A chronicle of their hardships would fill this entire section. Porters abandoned them; Chinese
bureaucrats attempted to thwart their plans. Torrential rains, clouds of tiny gnats and voracious
leeches drove them to despair (at one point, Sardar wakes up screaming, with a tiger leech affixed
to the roof of his mouth). The waterfall they sought could easily be a mere chimera. "We [were]
journeying without real permission," Baker concedes, "to a place that did not exist, as far as
governments and maps were concerned. What we would find there was even more uncertain."
True believers, Baker, Storm and Sardar never abandoned their respect for the goddess whose body
they had entered. With dry good humor, Baker acknowledges his half-mad desire to persevere, a
desire that seems, at times, more the obsession of a Captain Ahab than an enlightened seeker. As a
character in his own narration, Baker quickly emerges as a sort of modern avatar of Sir Richard
Francis Burton, driven equally by brilliance and hubris.
Baker's twin goals would have humbled Indiana Jones: to locate the legendary waterfall and win
entrance into the mythical realm we know as Shangri-La. It's now a matter of record that he
succeeded at one of these quests. The Hidden Falls of Dorje Pagmo, as Baker renamed them, were
"discovered" by his National Geographic-sponsored team on Nov. 8, 1998. (Local hunters, not
surprisingly, had known how to reach the falls all along. It took Baker, with his command of the
local language and respect for Buddhist ritual, to win their trust.)
But what of Yangsang? What of Shangri-La? One of the book's many delights -- and "The Heart of the
World" is among the most complex, compelling and satisfying adventure books I have ever read -- is
to follow Baker's inner journey as he tries to balance his Buddhist aspirations with an admittedly
materialistic desire to find the key into Yangsang.
At one point, Baker seeks that key -- an actual, literal key -- on the lichen-
covered face of a sacred cliff: "The mist, the rain, the vegetal growth, the micro-organisms veiled from sight, all
entered through the pulsations and cuts in my scratched and torn hands," Baker writes at one
point, "and where I could not go I could only yield and be entered . . . . All Pemako seemed to
coalesce into the square foot of rock directly before me, and all its hidden depths were concealed
only by my limited awareness and the mechanisms of mind itself."
He faces similar frustrations in the gorge itself. Tibetans, Baker reminds us, view waterfalls as
an interface between the physical and ethereal universes -- the worlds of body and spirit. And
"some doors cannot be opened, " he allows, "until they open in us first."
On occasion, Baker's narration becomes a bit esoteric, and -- lest we have any doubt about the
ethereal nature and symbolic meaning of waterfalls -- he makes the above observation for innumerable perspectives.
It's a forgivable excess. By the book's end, Baker and his companions have journeyed into the
purgatorial Tsangpo Gorge half a dozen times, overcoming every obstacle to find their grail. The
conflicting emotions sparked by their historic discovery -- pride and humility, exhilaration and
exhaustion, pure joy and an inevitable sense of anticlimax -- can be reconciled only within the
context of Tibetan Buddhism and its doctrine of nonduality. There are no opposites, and no
separations. This world is a display of interlaced phenomenon, which the mind reflects as an
To grasp this realization, Baker concedes, is the ultimate goal of all seekers.
"The Heart of the World," though not easy to absorb, is one of the most extraordinary tales of
adventure and discovery ever told. On the prosaic level, it's the search for a hidden waterfall
that eluded explorers for more than a century. But it is also -- perhaps primarily -- an
exploration into the heart of Tibetan Buddhism, which views the animistic spirits of sacred
geography as metaphors for the nature of mind.
Both journeys are fascinating, and each is dependent on the other. From harrowing encounters with
tribal poisoning cults to a descent into the roaring "throat" of a Buddhist goddess, Baker's quest
is an unforgettable saga. Like his fellow explorers, we find our own inner doors opening along the
A century from now, "The Heart of the World" will still ignite the imagination of anyone who loves
to explore and seeks the deeper meaning of his explorations. A fearless adventurer in both body
and spirit, Baker has written one for the ages.
Baker's The Heart of the World. Penguin Press, 511pps US
Shambhala or Shambala
Shambhala was the name chosen by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for his
institution. Under the auspices of the 16th Karmapa and the sponsorship of
his devoted followers, he was the first Tibetan lama to receive a Western
university education (at Oxford, England.) The Buddhist teachings that he
considered to be suitable for Western students incorporate the Tibetan Karma
Kagyu tradition along with other elements.
The name means Basis of Joy and may derive from a very ancient
oral tradition. Shambo is one of Shiva's epithets. Since Shambala
is actually the name of a fabulous land, or beyul, in the
Himalayas, to avoid confusion,
in this article the spelling without the "h"
designates the place.
The Hindu Puranas say that at the end of Kali Yuga, the Kalki avatar
(horse-headed form of Vishnu) will be born in the best of the brahmin families of Shambala
in order to annihilate the evil-doers of earth. Here, Shambala is
described as hidden in the interior of the planet.
Details of the realm of Shambala are described in the Kalchakra legend in
which a Hidden Kingdom somewhere in the Himalayas exists ruled by a king in
concert with a wisdom-holder. There, enlightened and
accomplished beings preserve ancient knowledge and guide the progress of humankind.
The Kalachakra Tantra (Wheel of Time Tradition) belongs to the highest class of
Buddhist tantras and, until the initiations given with some regularity by HH the 14th
Dalai Lama, it was relatively unknown in the West. He promotes it in the
cause of World Peace, for it is said the Buddha prophesized that those who receive the Kalachakra empowerment would take rebirth
in its mandala.
The Tantra relates how the bodhisattva Vajrapani manifested as Suchandra, ruler of
the land of Shambala and requested Buddha Sakyamuni to teach concerning the
nature of time. On the full-moon day of the third month, at the stupa of Dhanyakataka in
South India, before an assembly of innumerable buddhas, bodhisattvas, dakas and
dakinis, gods, nagas, and yakshas along with human disciples, he appeared as the
deity called Kalchakra and transmitted a complete cosmological
On his return to Shambala, the king constructed a three-dimensional model of
the mandala of Kalachakra, and absorbed himself in that practice. He
also transmitted the teaching to all inhabitants of his kingdom. There,
the teachings were preserved but remained hidden from the rest of the world
until 1,000 years had passed.
The Kalachakra Tantra did not make its way to Tibet until the 10th
century when, it is said, Indian pandita Chilupa, while visiting Shambala with some merchants listened to the Kalachakra teachings.
them down from memory upon his
return. In 1026/27, the book was translated into Tibetan and that year, Red Hare year, was
known as Rab-byung (pron. rabjung.) It is
considered the start of the Tibetan sexagenary system where we are currently in the
Tibetans have been familiar with the description of Shambala
byung, pron. De-jung,) as given in the tantra, along with
the corresponding cosmological view which informs all
branches of knowledge, including a system of astrology that is used to guide
HH 14th Dalai
Lama responds to A. Berzin's questions on the nature of Shambala
Shambala is said to be somewhere north of Kashmir. It is in the form
of an eight-ringed, eight-petaled lotus
where each region is enclosed by a boundary of mountains.
In the center of it is Kalapa, the capital of the kingdom of Agharta. The
city is surrounded by shimmering crystalline mountains, and the king's palace is
composed of gold, coral, diamonds and other precious gems.
South of Kalapa is Sandalwood Park, twelve yojanas
across (just like the town.) To its east is Lesser Manasa Lake, also twelve yojanas across, and to the west is White Lotus Lake,
of the same extent. In the midst of the Park is the great Kalachakra Mandala built by King Suchandra
that has the gods and goddesses made out of the five
jewels. It is square, four hundred hastas across.
Pundarika'sVimalaprabha (Flawless Light) commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra.
In the Bon tradition, corresponding to Shambhala is a heavenly abode called Olmo Lungrung
with a form based on the square instead of the circle.
The technology of Shambala is highly advanced. The windows of the
palace function as powerful lenses that serve as telescopes high-powered enough for
studying life on other worlds. For hundreds of years, the inhabitants have been
using aircraft and subways. This advancement is not limited to the mere
material, for the inhabitants have been able to develop powers of clairvoyance,
swift long-distance travel on foot, and also the ability to materialize and disappear at will.
The belief in the existence of Shambala has been reinforced by reports of
unusual occurrences in the Himalayan region where it is thought to be.
In the early 1900s The Statesman carried a report by a British army
officer of a very tall, lightly clad man with long hair who, when he noticed the
major, leaped down a vertical slope and disappeared. Tibetans back at the
encampment showed no surprise at the major's account, but simply explained that he had seen one of
the guards of the sacred land.
Alexandra David-Neel, the French adventurer who spent 14 years in Tibet,
reported seeing a man moving with extraordinary speed:
"I could clearly see his perfectly calm impassive face and wide-open eyes with their gaze fixed on some invisible
distant object situated somewhere high up in space. The man did not run. He seemed to
himself from the ground, proceeding by leaps. It looked as if he had been endowed with the
elasticity of a ball, and rebounded each time his feet touched the ground. His steps had
the regularity of a pendulum."
Shambala supposedly can be perceived only by those sufficiently pure both in mind and karmic
resolution. It is also held that the reason we do not hear from anyone who has
successfully found it is either because they do not want to return, or because they have been destroyed in the attempt.
There are texts listing the Shambala rulers along with
corresponding events in the outside world, and also predictions for the future.
The decline of Buddhism in Tibet, the
rise of materialism everywhere, and events of the tumultuous 20th century
can be discerned in those predictions.
The prophecy of Shambala states that there will be 32 kings who will each reign
for 100 years. As those reigns are accomplished, conditions outside the Kingdom
will deteriorate. Men become more warlike in their pursuit of power for its own sake, and
the accompanying ideology of materialism will spread over the whole earth. When the
materialists are united under a single evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift
to reveal the icy mountains of Shambala.
Barbarians will attack Shambala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the 32nd king of
Shambala, Rudrachakrin (Iron Wheel Master) or, according to another
tradition, Kalki, will lead his mighty forces with
their supra-mundane weapons against the invaders. In a last great battle, the evil king and his
followers will be destroyed.
The 1969 musical Hair includes a song, "Age of
Aquarius," with the lyrics [by Rado and Ragni],
"When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars . .
. ." This seems a reference to Hindu prophecy: According
to the Vishnu Purana, the last ruler of Shambala will "re-establish righteousness upon the
earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of the age of strife shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as
crystal. As it is said, 'When the sun and the moon, . . . Tishya, and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the
age of Truth will return.' "
Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was the set-designer for Diaghilev's Ballets
Russes. He was also an ethnographer, a Himalayan explorer,
and besides being a disciple of Helena Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, he may have
been a spy for the Soviets. He promoted the notion that he was an
incarnation of the Fifth Dalai Lama, because of seven moles on his
He wrote, ca. 1928: "I remembered how during our crossing of the
Karkaroum Pass, my sais, [syce: groom, master of horse] the Ladaki, asked me.
'Do you know why there is such a peculiar upland up here? Do you know that in the subterranean caves here many treasures are hidden, and that in them lives a wonderful tribe which abhors the sins of the Earth?' And again when we approached Khotan the hooves of our horses sounded hollow as though we rode above caves or hollows. Our caravan people called our attention to
this . . . .
"Long ago people lived there; now they have gone inside; they have found a subterranean passage to that subterranean
He also reported that a lama had said "You Westerners know nothing about
Shambala -- you wish to know nothing. Probably you ask out of curiosity; and you pronounce this sacred word in
He later added, "Great Shambala is far beyond the ocean. How and why do you people take interest in it? Only in some places, in the far North, can you discern the resplendent rays of Shambala [the aurora borealis ?]. . . . The secrets of Shambala are well
Roerich said that he had been told that some high lamas had visited
"I've heard of the Buryat Lama and how he was taken through a narrow, secret passageway.
So please don't tell me of only the heavenly Shamballah because I know that a real one exists on
Earth . . . . How does it happen that Shambala on Earth is still undiscovered by travelers? On maps you may see so many routes of expeditions. It appears that all heights are already marked and all valleys and rivers
Lama: "But as yet . . . people have not found all things
–- so, let a man try to reach Shambala without a call! You have heard about the poisonous streams which encircle the uplands. Perhaps you have even seen people dying from these gases when they come near them. . . . . Many people try to reach Shambala,
uncalled. Some of them disappear forever. Only a few of them reach the holy place and only if their karma is
Roerich's belief in the existence of Shambala
" . . . made him politically significant . . . because incarnated from the legendary kings of Shambala were supposed to be the Panchen Lamas crucial to the international rivalries swirling around
Lhasa. Roerich brought the bewilderments of the later Great Game to America, where he propagated the idea of
Shambala, claimed healing powers for his paintings, diddled the taxman and
corresponded in mystic codes with Henry Wallace, FDR's Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President ('I have thought of the New Country going forth, to meet the seven stars and under the sign of the three stars').
Jan. 7, 2001
review in The Observer of Meyer and Brysac's Tournament of
Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia.
Dzogchen master, HH Orgyen
Kusum Lingpa (Treasure-revealer of the Three
Kayas,) titular abbot of Thubten Chokhor Ling Monastery in Golok, Tibet, has revealed
numerous teachings and prophesies concerning Shambala. He says that the kingdom
of Agharta could be reached from India by flying northwards for seven days.
1973, Three Dog Night had a hit song with BW Stevenson's On the Road to Shambala: "How does your light shine in the halls of
Shambala is also the name of a West
Hidden Lands of India
In India, the secret land is known as Gyanganj or as Siddhashram. References are found in Valmiki's Ramayana and also
in The Mahabharata.
Guru Nanak (17th century), who established Sikkism, referred to Sach Khand.
In Autobiography of a Yogi. (mid-20th century) Paramahansa Yogananda wrote about meeting the guru
of his guru's guru (his great-grandguru) named Mahavatar Babaji.
He described him as still alive in the Badrinath region of the Himalayas, and
despite his great age he retained the appearance of a young man.
That guru was connected with Gyanganj, as was the guru of Gopinath Kaviraj (died
1976,) the principal of the Government College of Sanskrit in Benares, who wrote
Siddhabhoomi about those mysterious places. His own teacher, the Bengali
guru, Swami Vishudhananda, had told him of the time he spent in Gyanganj studying Surya Vigyan
(solar science.) The practice of that knowledge enabled him to manifest
various objects and to transform one thing into another by manipulating the sun's rays.
Yogananda also knew Vishudhananda, and described a meeting with him in Calcutta,
where he witnessed his ability to manifest various perfumes on demand.
Paul Brunton, in A Search for Secret India also reported that same
siddhi of Vishudhananda's, and also claims that he saw him revive a dead bird.
Gyanganj is generally described as a plateau in Tibet lying north of Kailash.
Like Plato's Atlantis, or a place out of Arthurian legend, it is described as
surrounded by a moat filled with crystalline water. A bow-shaped
drawbridge links it to our world, and it can only by raised by one who knows how
to do Surya Vigyan.
(Parveen Chopra. Gyanganj, "Spirit Worlds," LifePositive.com)
This place is in Arunachal Pradesh (north eastern India,) 120 km. from
Rohing. Also known as Akash Ganga, its focus is the small hill where the
holy river is viewed as emerging from the topknot of Lord Shiva. The
crystal spring spills down the rocks and collects in and around a small
Here it is believed that all species of animal live in
perfect harmony. The pool is one
of those that the birds seem to maintain by picking out any dead leaves or
other things that might sully the water.
Shangri-La is the name of the earthly paradise in the 1933 novel, Lost
Horizon by British author, James Hilton that is variously described as a spy
story or a pacifist fantasy. In March 2002, officials in
southwestern China renamed the impoverished county of Zhongdian lying in the Yunnan mountains
near the Tibetan frontier, Shangri-La.
Hilton described a rich, isolated Tibetan valley governed by an ancient high
lama where life was easy "with free love and flush toilets," and
people lived for hundreds of years, free of corrupting influences from the
In 1937, American director Frank Capra made a film of Lost Horizon starring
Ronald Coleman and Jane Wyatt.
China Daily gushed, ''Shangri-La is no longer a distant imaginary
haven; the paradise has been brought to Earth.'' Perhaps they mean,
"It has been brought low."
Cash is the old Chinese word for the small traditional coins that
could be strung.
"This seems to be the real thing ... or is it? Controversy rages over
renaming of county as China 'cashes in' " is the heading for David Chang's
article in Aug. 22, 2002's Bangkok Post, which says, in part:
The [March 18/02] announcement aroused interest among travel agencies but triggered protest
from scholars in Asia, who have accused China of riding roughshod on the dream
of paradise by commercialising the name "Shangri-la''.
Of course there are many people who do back China's creation of a Shangri-la
"I fully support China's renaming Zhongdian because James Hilton was
inspired by Zhongdian," Taiwan anthropology professor Cheng Chin-teh
"Hilton based his book on the writings by Joseph Lock, a US botanist who
lived in Naxi near Zhongdian for 27 years until he was kicked out by the
Chinese Communists in 1949.
"Everything in Zhongdian matches descriptions in Hilton's book,'' he
Cheng has visited Zhongdian five times and led 30 Taiwan travellers on a
Shangri-la tour to Zhongdian last month.
Zhongdian is indeed a paradise on earth. At an altitude of 3,000 metres, it
boasts snow-capped mountains, blue lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, Tibetans
and lama monasteries.
Tibetans regard the highest peak of Zhongdian's Meilixue Mountains --
6,740-metre Kawaboge Peak -- as the holiest of the eight Holy
Mountains they worship. The pyramid-shaped peak has never been scaled by
Zhongdian has a Birang Valley, matching the Blue Moon Valley in Lost
Horizon, and a 100-year-old Catholic church built by European
missionaries, an approximate link to the story in Lost Horizon about a
French priest who led Shangri-la as its high lama.
Zhongdian people know about Lost Horizon because Xuan Ke, a fiftyish
musician and scholar in Naxi translated the novel from English into Chinese.
He launched a campaign to "officially'' confirm the book was based on Zhongdian and to persuade the State Council to rename Zhongdian as Shangri-la
County. Hilton cannot be consulted: he died in 1954.
Zhongdian County did rename itself Shangri-la County in 1997, and received the
State Council's approval for this on March 18 this year.
Since then, many Chinese and foreign tour groups have visited Zhongdian --
taking a 45-minute flight from Yunnan's capital city, Kunming, to Naxi and
riding a bus for four hours to Zhongdian.
Despite its opening to tourists, Zhongdian's scenery and ecology has
reportedly not suffered much damage from tourism ... yet.
The local Tibetans are still very poor.
Lost Horizon tells how Britain sends a diplomat -- Robert Cornway -- to
evacuate 90 Europeans, who are trapped in war-torn China, from a fictitious
place called Baskul to the coastal metropolis of Shanghai.
But Cornway is able to get only four Europeans into a plane, which flies them
to Shangri-la instead of Shanghai. He later finds out the plane has been sent
by Shangri-la's high lama to kidnap him so that Cornway would take over the
leadership of Shangri-la.
After living in Shangri-la for some time, Cornway and the other Europeans
become homesick and flee Shangri-la. After reaching civilisation, Cornway
realises he has abandoned something dear to him and returns to Shangri-la.
The word "Shangri-la'' has brought huge profits to the Himalayan region.
Tens of thousands of tourists visit the Himalayas each year taking
Shangri-la tours, using Shangri-la hotels and buying books whose covers bear
the magic word.
Places billed as resembling the fictitious setting of Lost Horizon
include both Pokhra and Darjeeling in Nepal [sic]; Mustang (a Tibetan kingdom under
Nepalese rule,) the tiny territory of Sikkim, and Bhutan as well as Hunza in
None outside China claim to "be'' Shangri-la. Observers say Zhongdian's
declaration that it is the "true'' Shangri-la is unlikely to produce a
challenge from other nations, even though they fear China's move will hurt
There are suspicions that China may also claim "Shangri-la'' as a
trademark and bar others from putting the word on their goods as a brand name.
Even inside China, some scholars have questioned the wisdom of the Chinese
move. "I don't think it's appropriate because we all know
Shangri-la refers to utopia, a fairy tale,'' says Li Xu, a researcher at
China's Yunnan Research Institute for Social Sciences.
"Apart from foreign countries, two regions in China which consider
themselves to be the true Shangri-la are unhappy that the State Council gave
the name to Zhongdian,'' he added.
"Zhongdian got the central government's attention because Xuan Ke (the
musician) invited reporters ... who wrote stories and made
Zhongdian well-known. They have waged the self-promotion campaign for several
Even before the State Council approved the name-change, Yunnan was already capitalising on the name.
A Yunnan distillery has been turning out a wine called Shangri-la Tibetan
Drink, saying it is made [from] a formula left by French missionaries.
Another Yunnan factory produces a Shangri-la brand cigarette, after having
bought the trademark from a cigarette factory in China's Shannxi Province.
- Oct. 14/04, Rediff, "China to exploit lure of 'Shangri-la'
Three southwest Chinese regions have vowed to end their 'chaotic' battles
and work jointly to exploit the worldwide lure of Shangri-la, the state media reported on Thursday.
The word Shangri-la became world-famous after British writer James Hilton
published his book Lost Horizon in 1933. Shangri-la is said to be the
popular Tibetan word for 'sun and moon in the heart', or an ideal, enchanting wonderland.
In order to develop their local economies, Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet had all
played the Shangri-La card, each claiming that the real Shangri-la was in its territory.
After consultations, government representatives of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region signed a declaration of cooperation,
Xinhua news agency reported. They agreed to end the 'chaotic' battles among themselves and construct a
broad-based Shangri-la eco-tourism zone, Xinhua quoted industry experts as
"Cooperation of the three regions in tourism would help reduce cost of the tourism industry, enlarge the tourist market and improve the efficiency of
tourism development," Wang Huichen, deputy governor of Sichuan province, said.
In 2001, Tibet Autonomous Region put forward a proposal that the three regions optimise all Shangri-la tourism resources and promote them as one.
Two meetings of coordination about the establishment of China Shangri-la Ecological Tourism Zone were convened in 2002 and 2003, but without
beyul: The Tibetan name for Nepal, whose capital is
in the pleasant and prosperous Kathmandu valley, is Beyul.