The Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery,  Shangri-La China, Sept.2015

The Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated 5 kilometres from the city of Zhongdian at elevation 3,380 metres in Yunnan province, China. Built-in 1679, the monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred to as the Little Potala Palace. Located in the capital of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, it is also the most important monastery in southwest China. It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama. The Fifth Dalai Lama's Buddhist visionary zeal established the monastery in Zhongdian, in 1679. Its architecture is a fusion of the Tibetan and Han Chinese. It was extensively damaged in the Cultural Revolution and subsequently rebuilt in 1983; at its peak, the monastery contained accommodation for 2,000 monks; it currently accommodates in its rebuilt structures 700 monks in 200 associated houses. Because of the popularity of James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon (1933), which introduced Shangri-La and is said have been written on an inspirational theme of the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptures, where human beings, animals, and nature lived in harmony under the rule of, the Chinese authorities changed the name of Zhongdian County to Shangri-La County in 2001, as the city claims to be the source of inspiration for Hilton's novel. The ambiance of the town is distinctly Tibetan with prayer flags fluttering, mountains known by holy names, lamaseries, and rocks inscribed in Tibetan language with Buddhist sutras.  (Source:

I saw the monastery from afar almost every day during my stay at Shangri La. I took a taxi to the monastery on a sunny day. I took photographs from different angles, stopping at different points on the road. The monastery is like a small village with its houses and living spaces. It is a huge complex of buildings dominated by red and yellow, the sacred colors of the Buddhists. A complex where wood and stone are skillfully used, even windows are embroidered with patterns, Buddhist patterns and symbols can be seen everywhere. While wandering, I ran into a group of girls and asked who they were. They said they were a show group from Shanghai. I requested them to dance for me to photograph them and they accepted. They added color to the calm atmosphere of the monastery with their dances. I could not get permission to photograph the monks inside the monastery. Maybe more time is needed for this. I don't know when my next trip to Shangri La will be. China is a very big country and has many places to visit. 19.Sept.2015