White Water Terraces
Located in the foothills of the Haba Snow Mountains, about 101 kilometers (about 62 miles) southeast of the Shangri-la County, the White Water Terraces (Baishui Tableland) is one of the most famous destinations in mysterious Shangri-La. It is an ancient Chinese landform whose history can date back to 200,000 to 300,000 years.
These terraces are large limestone steps which were built up over the years with calcium carbonate crystallized in the spring waters which flow down the steps. Measuring 140 meters (about 459 feet) in length and 160 meters (about 525 feet) in width, it is one of the biggest such terraces in China.
The spring gushes down from the mountain summit, and flows downward, leaving an impression of a large white jade carving among the green mountain. The tableland lies layer by layer, creating the attractive terraced field, and is called 'a field left by fairies' by the local people. The left of the tableland is a pool and a moon-shaped platform that is said to be the dresser of the fairies. When autumn comes, the mountains around the White Water Terraces are festooned with flower blossoms. Among the green mountains the White Water Terraces forms a startling white contrast.
In addition to the spectacular terrace itself, visitors can also learn about the Dongba Culture of the ethnic Naxi minority. A legend says that the first saint of the Dongba Religion was fascinated by the stunning scenery of the White Water Terraces on his way back from Tibet, and decided to stay here to missionize. Since then, this place has become the Holy Land of the Dongba Religion. When the second saint of the Dongba Religion came here, he created the Dongba pictograph. So the White Water Terraces is regarded as the birthplace of Dongba Culture. Each year, on the eighth day of the second lunar month, the Naxi people come to worship this sacred site. Dressed in their holiday best, they sing and dance to celebrate this ethnic festival.