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"The Road to Shangri-La" Charity Photo Exhibition
Published on: 2019-06-05
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shangri laThe Road to Shangri-La

Charity Photo Exhibition by Bruce Connolly

The concept of Shangrila, discovering a sense of personal contentment and peace are at its heart. It may be found anywhere and indeed for many reasons I can find it here in Tianjin. ‘Shangrila’ has long been associated with James Hilton’s 1933 novel, ‘Lost Horizon’. A mythical Himalayan valley surrounded by snow mountains, a place that remains in people’s hearts for which there exists a deep desire to return. ‘Lost Horizon’ went on to be an award winning Hollywood masterpiece in 1937 that captivated audiences with its timely and inspirational story. It culminated in the lead character fulfilling his desire to leave the modern world, within which he had been destined for high success. He instead returns to a remote, timeless, place where he had earlier encountered more of life’s true meanings. The catchline of ‘Lost Horizon’ that “there is a wish for Shangrila in everyone’s heart” is probably even more pertinent today. Serenity, harmony and inherent beauty are cornerstones of experiencing Shangrila.

My earlier China travels took me through areas that today are marketed as Shangrila, where I had found tranquility and a desire to photo-document scenes long before they became mass-tourism destinations.

My travel inspiration came from an early 1990’s British television production, ‘Beyond the Clouds’, filmed in what was then remote northwestern Yunnan. It centered around Lijiang, beautifully por-traying the everyday lives of the Nakhi people.

THigh on a plateau beyond the river lay the small town of Zhongdian and nearby Songzanlin Monas-tery where monks invited me in for butter tea. Outside, Tibetan herders tended yaks, cattle and sheep. In 1995, its then remote settings felt timeless and indeed oozing with tranquil harmony. Indeed in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, ‘Shambala’, suggesting a mythical land surrounded by a chain of snow mountains, maybe the etymological origin of ‘Shangrila’.

The Potala Palace rising in splendor above Tibet’s Lhasa, was my ultimate dream, an ambition accomplished in 2000.

Photography, all shot in the pre-digital age, illustrates a very different period from today. Indeed it was an era when a real sense of adventure was a pre-requisite for such journeying. For me, it will always remain a high point from my life of travel. It was before modern transportation opened up the area. Indeed for travellers such as myself it formed a personal ‘Shangrila’ within remote, al-most idyllic mountain valleys far removed from China’s bustling, rapidly developing cities.

'The Road to Shangrila' can be followed at Tianjin’s Shangri-La Hotel where approximately 150 images shot at many locations along the route from Kunming to Lhasa will be displayed from June 21.

'Welcome to the Shangrila Experience at the Shangri-La'

Healing Young Hearts

Shangri-La hotel Tianjin has supported Healing Young Hearts to design activity packs that make hospital stays a less stressful experience and provide children with a positive image of themselves and their medical journey, acknowledging them as the brave and determined fighters that they are.

100% of proceeds from photographs sold will be donated to Cathay Future Foundation Healing Young Hearts program.

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