Photo of Buddhist temple at sunset

Walking into Shangri-La—a former Tibetan kingdom in southern China

A remote mountain monastery reveals the earthly yearnings behind our quest for utopias such as Shangri-La.

Muli temple, founded in the 16th century, likely inspired the story of the legendary utopia of Shangri-La. Rebuilt after being destroyed in the Cultural Revolution, it now serves as a monastery for about a hundred Buddhist monks in southwestern Sichuan Province.
Photograph by Paul Salopek

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