Daocheng Yading Reserve
Yading Natural Reserve is located in Daocheng, a county subordinated to the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on the southwest border of Sichuan Province. This national natural reserve is noted for its mysterious lamasteries, forests, pastures, snowclad peaks, clear lakes and primitive Tibetan villages. It is so beautiful that the tourists nickname it "The Last Shangri-La", "The Wonderland of Shangri-La" and "The Last Pure Land on the Blue Planet". Yading is a holy land for the local Tibetan, it means "the land towards the sun" in the Tebetan language. The reserve is at an elevation of 2,900 - 6032 merers and covers an area of 1,344 square kilometers. Yading was seldom known by the outside world until it was discovered by Joseph Rock in 1928. Today, Yading is still a less-visited destination in China. This is because of the less tourism promotion. There are some famous tourist spots in Yading:
Three Holy Peaks
The three holy peaks were once blessed in the 8th century by Buddha Padmasambhava of projecting his divine light onto the range and naming the 3 elevations after three bodhisattvas.
The south peak Jambeyang (or Jampelyang, Yangmaiyong) of 5,958m is the avatar of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. The east peak Chanadorje (or Xianuoduoji) of the same height represents Vajrapani , the Bodhisattva of Wrath. The ,north peak Chenresig (or Chenrezig, Xiannairi ) of 6,032m, the highest of the trio, symbolizes Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Mercy.
The three peaks are the patron saint of the Tibetan. It's said that if a Tibetan pilgrimage to the shrine 3 times in life, he can be blessed with all he desires. Therefore, pilgrimage to this holy range is a long-cherished wish of each Tibetan.
Three Holy Lakes
Five-color Lake (4800M)
It lies beneath the sheer precipice walls of Chenresig's stunning south face. The lake changes its color amazingly from green, bright blue to deep ocean blue upon light conditions.
Milk Lake (4600M)
A glacier-fed lake. Glacier running off from Jampelyang gives the water its striking bright green color. The best view can be gained if you follow the main trail along the north shore of the lake and climb up to the col in the west.
Pearl Lake (4000M)
It is a very small lake hidden in the beautiful upper valley of Chenresig's north face, accessed by an easy 45-minute walk from Chonggu Lodge. The water of the lake is limpid and you can enjoy the inverted reflection of trees, flowers, and the snowclad peaks in water.
Location: Both Milk Lake and Five-color Lake are situated at the saddle between Jampelyang and the south face of Chenresig, with Chanadorje standing at the east range. It is the second place to admire all of three sacred peaks. Although the view of Jampelyang is less impressive than that of in Luorong Pasture, both lakes offer breathtaking views of Chanadorje and Chenresig.
It takes three hours to hike from Luorong Pasture to Milk Lake. Five-color Lake is hidden behind a steep slope, 150m higher than Milk Lake beneath Chenresig's south face. Count 30 minutes to reach it from Milk Lake. No clear trails. Follow the direction of Tibetan praying flags hanging above the slope.
A small lamasery built in more than 800 years ago. Locating at an elavation of 3,900, it offers a spectacular view of Chenresig's north face. A legend has it that an eminent monk Quejiegongjuejiacuo built Chonggu Si in order to oblate the holy mountain and advocate Buddha dharma. But, he peeved the Jinni because of the digging soil, then the leprosy prevailed at the whole town, local people were influenced badly. So as to relieve the disaster of local people, Quejiegongjuejiacuo begged the Jinni to drop the disaster to him. Jinni was moved by his mercy and keep all the people healthy, however, he died of the leprosy at last. Nowadays, monks of the temple pray to Buddha to memory his merits and virtues everyday. Chonggu Si is the only pass way to see the three holy peaks: Xiannairi, Yangmaiyong, Xianuoduoji. And it is also the starting place of Tibetan Zhuanshan ceremony.
Luorong Pasture (4180M)
A paved trail leads to Luorong Pasture, 12 km from the entrance, an easy three-hour trek. The difference in height is less than 300 meters. Luorong Pasture is situated in an enchanting valley between the east face of Chenresig and the west face of Chanadorje. Jampelyang, 'a truncated pyramid' claimed by Joseph Rock, rises almost 2000 meters at the upper end of the valley. It is the first place in the reserve where three sacred peaks can be seen.
Red Grassland, located in Sangdui town, 28km north of Daocheng. It's a piece of inconspicuous wetland most of the time, but overgrew with red bushes in autumn, with the yellow-foliaged poplars behind and clearly blue sky above, local people believe it's the "Color of Heaven'. But the red will only last for about 15days per year, not easy to catch the right time. A (pedicab) walk is recommended to Rupuchaka Hot Springs, 4km outside Daocheng.
Yading Village (3,900m)
The Yading Natural Reserve is named after it for closing this picturesque Tibetan village. The village is about 34 km from the country seat of Shangri-La. It has around 180 people who keep very traditional Tibetan culture and customs. In Yading Village, there are some simple guesthouses operated by the locals. In some guesthouses like Longmen Inn, it has some twin rooms with a private bathroom. Now, it has electric in the guesthouse but no hot showers. The village also offers horse-renting service. Vistiors can start their hiking to visit the three holy peaks Changna Dorjee, Jambeyang and Chenresig. For those travellers whose physical condittion is not strong enough, they can also rend a horse here. For camping is not allowed at other places of Yading village, guesthouse is the only choice for the travellers who would like to stay overnight in Yading Nature Reserve.
Daocheng Yading, Sichuan ToursYading Valley (2,800 - 4,200m)
The valley measures about 25 km from Kangku (in the north) to Luorong Pasture (in the south). Hiking along the valley, you can enjoy many beautiful scenic spots including the Yading Village.
Best Travel Time and Climate
The Yading Natural Reserve is influenced by Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, it has the feature of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and Continental climate, belonging to continental monsoonal plateau climate, with long winters and short summers, and an average annual temperature of 12.3'C. It has distinct wet seasons and dry seasons. The best travel seasons are spring and autumn.