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  Chinese Way>Life

Diqing – plateau wonderland

2014-03-06 16:38:45

(China Today)


Meri Snow Mountain

Lost Horizon depicted a tranquil realm where canyons are embraced by snowy mountains and a pyramid-like snowcapped peak. Kawagarbo, the summit of Meri Snow Mountain, is the peak described in the novel.

Snowy mountains are among the major scenic attractions in Diqing. Apart from Meri, the Baimang, Haba, Balagengzong snow-covered mountains tower in this region. Among them, Kawagarbo, the highest peak of Meri, one of the eight holy mountains in Tibetan Buddhism, is the most mysterious and formidable. Over the past years, many mountaineers and explorers have striven to reach its summit, but none have succeeded. This inapproachability has a powerful appeal for mountaineers and tourists.

Feilaisi, a quiet village at the foot of the mountain, has become busy receiving visitors from China and abroad. From the village, you can observe this white mountain standing right in front of you. With its pureness and magnificence, the mountain resembles the dwelling of celestial beings.

Meri Snow Mountain is also known as Prince Snow Mountain. French writer Mader Davis was the first to use the name Meri in his 1908 book Yunnan. The massive mountain range stretches north to south. Meri is the name of the northern part, while the middle and southern parts are called Prince and Biluo. Meri, however, generally refers to the northern and middle sections.

The mountain range consists of more than 100 peaks, of which 27 rise to over 4,000 meters above sea level, 20 are over 5,000 meters above sea level and six over 6,000 meters. At 6,740 meters above sea level, Kawagarbo is the highest point in Yunnan province. It is surrounded by 12 lesser but no less imposing peaks. This cluster is known as the Prince’s 13 Peaks.

Kawagarbo means “white snow mountain” in Tibetan. It is said to be the transfiguration of a demon with nine heads and 18 arms. Enlightened by Padmasambhava, the demon converted to Buddhism and became one of the guardians of King Gesar and the Pure Land.

Meri Snow Mountain is one of the eight sacred mountains worshipped by Tibetans, and Kawagarbo is the site for many religious rituals. Every year from late autumn to early winter, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims circumambulate around the peak to pay homage. They chant scriptures and express their reverence to holy spirits, expressing their good wishes to all life.

Meri is best viewed from Feilaisi Village. Standing out in the open, the Prince’s 13 Peaks ascend right before your eyes. Among them the lovely shaped Miancimu is said to be Kawagarbo’s wife.

Down the Kawagarbo Peak, cirques (steep bowl-shaped hollows occurring at upper ends of a mountain valley, especially forming heads of glaciers or streams) and glaciers wriggle their way like huge white dragons. The 8-km-long 500-m-broad Ming-yong Glacier is the most spectacular among them, undulating down from an elevation of 5,500 meters all the way to the forest zone at around 2,700 meters above sea level. It is rare to find permanent glaciers at such low latitudes where the temperate is comparatively mild. As people describe it: “It is chilly to sit beside the glacier, yet flowers are spread all over the banks.”

On the southern side of Kawagarbo Peak is the fabulous Yubeng Waterfall, whose water is deemed holy by Tibetans. Plummeting from a breathtaking height of 1,000 meters, the cascade produces a torrential flow of water that splatters on the rugged rock face to produce a dense mist and splendid rainbows in sunny days.

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