Buddhism Shangri-La Fire Tibet

Updated 10th February 2014

The ancient Tibetan town of Gyalthang (Dukezong) was caught fire on Saturday 11th January 2014.

The historic 1300-year-old town centre has been identified as the location of the mythical Shangri-La in James Hilton’s novel The Lost Horizon.

China officially renamed Duzekong and the modern Chinese town that has sprung up around it as Shangri-la in 2001.

The town was an important stop on the Tea Horse route along the southern Silk Road, which connected southwestern Yunnan with Tibet and India.

The town has become a centre for both art and tourism in recent years.

Gyalthang is one of the largest centres of Thangka Tibetan Buddhist art in China.It houses a sprawling Thangka academy which trains young Tibetans from surrounding areas.

The town has traditional wooden homes built along narrow alleyways. Thousands of firefighters, soldiers and police fought the blaze, but were unable to save hundreds of the traditional wooden buildings. Fire engines could not be moved into the narrow streets. These traditional buidlings burned for nine hours before the local fire brigades could contain the fire.

The fire damaged houses and shops, and also destroyed cultural relics and Tibetan art.