Dukezong Old Town

Dukezong Old Town, a 1300-year-old Tibetan town located in Shangri-La, which it has experienced both the flames of war and prosperity of frontier trade. Dukezong Old Town's authentic Tibetan dwellings, majestic prayer halls and pagodas, winding lanes offer sanctuary to all those seeking refuge from the bustle city.

Notice: It's so sad that this exotic ancient town got devoured by a huge fire on Jan. 11, 2014. A number of cultural relics, precious Thang-gas and Buddhist artworks were burned in the fire, plus some Tibetan-style buildings and precious historical sites. What a Pity ! The whole Dukezong old town has been blockaded and tourists are not permitted to enter. The reconstruction work will start before long. Hope it would come back to life.

Dukezong Old Town Dukezong Old Town
Narrow lanes of the Dukezong Old Town A woman is weaving at her loom in Dukezong Old Town.

It is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan city among China's Tibetan counties. Dukezong Old Town was a key stop on the Ancient Tea-horse Road and a focal point for Han-Tibetan exchanges. As one of the oldest towns in the region, it is also known as the 'footstep of Shangri-La'. According to Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, there is a lost city called Shambhala in the Snow Mountains, shaped like an eight-petal lotus flower. The 1.6-square-kilometer Dukezong Old Town Town is also laid out in this design. All 1,084 of its houses radiate out from Turtle Hill at the center, arranged in conformity with Tibetan Buddhist geomantic theory.

Tibetans regard the shade of white as a sign of respect for their forefathers, the ancient Qiang people, who worshipped white stones. Shortly after the town was established, craftsmen found white clay in the region that could be ground down and used as paint. All dwellings were accordingly painted white. This is why Dukezong Old Town was named white stone city. On a clear night, the ancient town reflects a silver sheen. This has engendered to another epithet: moonlight city.

The old Tibetan way of life, as well as dwellings, are well-preserved in Dukezong Old Town, as each redolent barley wine lane testifies. Tibetan chess is played in local households as it has been for the past 1,000 years, and horse bells still tinkle along the ancient caravan path. Bonfires that are lit in the town square every night illuminate local musicians as they sing to and play traditional stringed instruments.

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