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Ancient allure survives in Lijiang, despite commercialization

By CEDRIC TAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-04 08:12
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The Mu Residence, the resplendent abode of the last tusi (Naxi ruler) of Lijiang. [PHOTO BY CEDRIK TAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Lijiang is an attractive destination away from the disquietude of China's megacities, backed by pristine scenes of nature and the elegant beauty of ancient Chinese architecture.

A disastrous earthquake leveled the area in 1996. It was meticulously rebuilt with strict adherence to the original design, contributing to its UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1997.

Dayan city is now the poster town of this splendid old culture. The settlement has long been a cultural bastion of the Naxi ethnicity, who ruled the surrounding highlands for centuries under successive Chinese dynasties, peaking between the Ming era (1368-1644) and the middle of the Qing's (1644-1911) reign.

Lijiang's old town comprises Dayan, and Shuhe and Baisha towns.

As with many renovated historical settlements in China, much of the area has become overtly commercial and lacks any real charm of the local culture.

However, the buildings, streets and traditional adornments are so gorgeously restored that it definitely warrants a visit from architecture and history buffs.

Lijiang has been featured in many movies and TV series. It was a destination for the Amazing Race series in 2011.

Much of the old town is dominated by the grand view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a perennially snowcapped giant that serves as a stunning backdrop for Dayan's traditional low-rise buildings.

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