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From Wikipedia: "Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, "Shangri-La" is a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world."

Bhutan has as good a claim as any place to be the last Shangri-La. As official policy the government promotes "gross national happiness." Again from Wikipedia: "Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product. The term was coined by Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many worthy moral goals it is somewhat easier to state than to define, nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans to the country."

The Shangri-La feel perhaps reaches a peak when one visits Taktshang, or Tiger's Nest, a temple built on a ledge high up a cliff. Once more from Wikipedia: "Taktshang is the most famous of monasteries in Bhutan. It hangs on a cliff at 3,120 metres (10,200 feet), some 700 meters (2,300 feet) above the bottom of Paro valley. Famous visitors include Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and Milarepa. The name means "Tiger's nest", the legend being that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew there on the back of a tiger." My wife and I were fortunate that we were technically guests of the Foreign Ministry (see the notes below this photo for explanation), so we were able to go into the temple and have tea with the monks, which is not normally allowed. I'll put a photo from there in a workshop.

vincenti, pat0500, Flavia, pedrocarmo has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Ken Alexander (kensimage) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1087 W: 39 N: 1167] (8563)
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