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Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

DIQING TIBETAN AUTONOMOUS PREFECTURE

Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture located in north-western Yunnan province, on the south-eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and the center of Heng Duan Mountain Range. It has an area of 23,870km sq. it’s capital. Also, the largest city in the prefecture is Shangri-La city.

This prefecture has three county-level divisions: Shangri-la city, Deqen County, and Weixi Lisu Autonomous County. The prefecture of Yunnan province is bordered on the northeast by Sichuan Province and the northwest by the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Southwest and southeast of Diqing prefecture are other parts of Yunan Province, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, and Lijiang. It has a population of 408,000.  Diqing lies in the upper reaches of the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers. About 93.5% of the land is mountainous. The annual means temperature is 5.5 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall is 700 mm per annum. 

This Autonomous prefecture was established in 1957 and named Diqing by its first governor. This Tibetan autonomous prefecture (TAP) is also spelled Dechen, Deqing, or Deqen. Historically before six or seven thousand years ago, humans were living in this remote land. The ancestors of Tubo (ancient name for Tibetan) created a colorful aboriginal culture here. In Qing Dynasty, the orbit of the central government began to extend here. 

Physical features of the Diqing stand on the southward expansion of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of 3,380 meters. Nathan Mountains, Yuling Mountains, and Gingga Mountain (Minya Konka) zigzag are paralleling. The Jinsha River and Lancang River flow through the prefecture from north to south. Meadows and mountains are also the main landforms of this area. 

Tibetans make up almost thirty-four percent of the city’s population. Traditional Tibetan celebrations and festivals, such as the horse racing festival and the Gedong festival, are certain to be the highlights. Local people produce unique products such as snow lotus, herbal medicine, Tibetan Saffron, pine mushroom, Tibetan ornaments, and cordyceps. 

The prefecture is blessed with many natural attractions like the Meri Snow Mountain, the Tiger Leaping Gorge, The Pudacuo National Park, and Napa Lake. The prefecture is often called a “Kingdom for animals and plants” and called a “biological gene pool,” a habitat for over 5,000 plants and more than 1,400 kinds of wild animals. 

SHANGRI-LA OR XIANGGELILA COUNTY

Shangri-la is a county-level city in northwestern Yunnan province, People’s Republic of China, and is the location of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture seat. The word Shangri-la first appeared in 1933 in the novel “Lost Horizon” by the British writer James Hilton. He describes a beautiful kingdom where three rivers joined together, snow-capped mountains reached the sky, and fields of long grass-covered the earth that smelt sap. 
In the Tibetan language, Shangri-la means the sun and moon in one’s heart. Today, Shangri-la has become a common English word, meaning the heaven on earth. Formerly, the Tibetan population referred to this place by its traditional name Gyalthang, meaning “Royal Plain.”  

In 1997, the government of Yunnan Province claimed that Zhongdian County is where Shangri-la is in Hilton’s story and established Shangri-la as the capital of the prefecture. Shangri-La has a monsoon-influenced humid continental climate due to the high elevation. Winters are chilly but sunny, with a January 24-hour average temperature of -2.3 degrees Celsius. Except during the summer, nights are usually sharply cooler than the days. Pudacuo National Park, the first national park in China to meet IUCN standards, is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan protected areas world heritage site. 

The town’s airport is Diqing Airport covering an area of 225 hectares. It is one of the biggest airports in the northwest of Yunan. There are flights to Kunming, Chengdu, Lhasa, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Many travelers use the county town as a gateway into Tibet, traveling many days overland by jeep to Lhasa or flying from the city’s airport. The town itself is one of the tourist destinations to explore Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Ganden Sumtsen Ling, Pudacuo National Park, and Tiger Leaping Gorge. 

Dechen or Diqin County

The county falls under the administration of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, located in the northwest of Yunnan province, China. Deqen occupies the northwest corner of Diqing Prefecture. The county borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region to the northwest and Sichuan to the northeast. It is located in the central part of the Hengduan Mountains and contains the Salween, Mekong, and Jinsha rivers. The town is warmer during the winter than Shangri-La County to the east despite being slightly higher in elevation due to the southerly aspect. 

Many Tibetans live in Deqen, and they, compared to Tibetans in Tibet, have longer-lasting trade relations with Han-Chinese and other ethnic minorities. Dongzhulin Monastery is popular in this county. 
Deqen can be reached by many daily buses traveling north from Kunming- Dali-Lijang-Zhongdian-Dejin. The route is very scenic, and most of it is a newly built highway apart from the Zhongdian to Deqin section, a winding mountain road through the scenic north Yunnan/Tibetan Mountain. 

Dongzhulin Monastery has located in Benzilan Township Deqin county and is 105km from the seat of Shangri-La County. It was built in 1667 and named Gadan by the fifth Dalia Lama. It is the largest one of the three Gelu Sect monasteries in Deqin County and one of the religious, cultural activity centers in Kangnan District. 

Weixi Lisu County

Weixi Lisu Autonomous County is located in Diqing Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China. It’s covered an area of 4,661 km sq and has a total population of 152,200. 

If anyone wants to travel Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture one can take Diqing Shangri-La Airport, also known simply as Diqing Airport, is one of the biggest airport in the northwest of the Yunnan Province. It is located about 3.4 miles from the center of Shangri-La City. Also, there were direct bus routes to Kunming, Lijiang, and Panzhihua. The major highway in this prefecture is China National Highway G214.