The Dali Scenic Region lies in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture located in the northwest of Yunnan Province. Yunnan is made up of one municipality and eleven counties. Dali covers a total area of 11,380 square miles with a total population of 3,063,000, of which minority nationalities make up 1,553,000. The Bai people make up 33.2 percent of the total population and the Yi, Hui, Naxi, Miao and other minority nationalities account for a total of 16 percent.
Dali is the major region where the Bais live in compact communities. The capital of the Prefecture, Dali Municipality, is 247 miles away from Kunming. It is located at the center of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, surrounded by beautiful mountains and crystal-clear lakes. Within and around the city, there are many relics and places of historical interest. It was the political, economic and cultural center for 500 years during the Tang and Song Dynasties. The annual average temperature is 59 degree Fahrenheit. The climate is pleasantly spring-like all the year round. The beautiful scenery, varied traditions and the culture of minority nationalities make Dali a well-known place of interest.
The Three Pagodas
The Three Pagodas are located about a half-mile northwest of Dali Old Town at the foot of Zhonghe Peak. They are historical witnesses of the prevailing Buddhism in those days. The Three Pagodas consist of one big pagoda and two small ones. They are one of the most significant and majestic wonders in Dali and look magnificent. Each of the Three Pagodas was built at different periods of time. The main pagoda, the Qianxun Pagoda, was erected when the Chongsheng Monastery was built during the period of Fengyou of Nanzhao Kingdom (823 -859). The Qianxun Pagoda is a sixteen-story tower reaching 226 feet into the air. On the south and north side of the main pagoda stand two small octagonal ones with closed eaves. Each pagoda is 10 stories high with a total height of approximately 140 feet. The two minor pagodas were erected during the Wudai Period of the Dali Kingdom. The Three Pagodas are a representation of the ancient architecture and culture of the Bai nationality.
Dali Old Town
Dali Old Town was set up as the capital of the Dali Kingdom in 1382, the 15th year of Emperor Hongwu’s reign during the Ming Dynasty. At present, only the southern and northern gate towers remain standing. Within the Old Town of Dali, there are well-preserved traditional houses of the Bai people. The idyllic courtyards and peaceful streets were typical in the ancient times and lend a sense of tranquility to visitors. Within the town, the “Foreigners’ Street” is the favorite place for overseas visitors to relax and chat over their experiences.
The Erhai Lake & Cangshan Mountain
The Erhai Lake, known as Yeyuze in ancient times, is named after its ear-like shape. It is a fresh water lake in the Yunnan Plateau at an elevation of 6470 feet. It starts at Dengchuan in the north and ends at Xiaguan in the south with a length of 26 miles and width of approximately 5 miles. It is 72 miles in circumference and covers an area of 96.5 square miles. The average depth is about 36 feet. The Erhai Lake is the second largest lake in Yunnan Province. The Erhai Lake is a fault lake formed after a foundering of the earth’s crust.
Cangshan Mountain, also known as Diancangshan, is named after its verdant forests. The Cangshan Mountain is part of the Yunlin Mountain chain, which is subsequently part of the Hengduan Mountains. It starts at Eryuan in the north and ends at Xiaguan in the south. The Cangshan Mountain comprises 19 peaks, the highest of which is Malong Peak at an elevation of 13,523 feet above sea level. It is snow-capped all the year round with a moraine lake on the summit. There are 18 brooks running down the 19 peaks. The snow-melted water rushes down and converges into the Erhai Lake. The mountain is snow-white on the top, yet flowers bloom in profusion at the foot.
The Butterfly Fountain
The Butterfly Fountain is situated at the foot of Yunlong Peak of the Cangshan Mountain, 44.7 miles south of the Dali Old Town. A tall, majestic tree stands high beside the fountain covering the pond with its large boughs and luxuriant foliage. It is known as the “Butterfly Tree.” Every April15th, when spring is changing into summer, a fragrant smell from the tree will attract many different types of butterflies, causing them to come and dance over the pond. The most splendid sight is when they join together one after another and form a long string hanging down from the tree to the surface of water.
Following is a list of all the cities:
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