With a history of more than 1300 years, the Dukezong Ancient Town is a living and intact Tibetan town in Shangri-La, Yunnan Province. As one of the oldest towns in the region, the town is also known as the 'footstep of Shangri-La'.
In the early morning of January 11, 2014, a fire broke out in the 1,000-year-old Dukezong Ancient Town. About hundreds of homes and shops were destroyed and about 2,600 residents were displaced. About half of the old town was destroyed by the fire, half was spared. The whole rebuilding project, which is worth 1.2 billion yuan (196 million US dollars), is expected to be finished within two years. The old town is restored to its original appearance by the end of 2016.
According to Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, there was a lost city called Shambhala in the Snow Mountains, shaped like an eight-petal lotus flower. The 1.6-square-kilometer Dukezong Old Town is similar to that city. All 1,084 of its houses radiate out from Turtle Hill at the center, arranged in conformity with Tibetan Buddhist geomantic theory.
The old Tibetan dwellings well-preserved in Dukezong Old Town vividly shows their way of life; Tibetan chess is played in local households with a history of 1,000 years; horse bells still tinkle along the ancient caravan path; bonfires that are lit in the town square every night illuminate local musicians as they sing to and play traditional stringed instruments.