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China's Mystery Mountain

2007-03-24

Nianbaoyuze, when translated from the Tibetan language, means the grand mountain of boulder. Located on the border of Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, it is composed of about 3,600 mountains and 360 lakes about 4,000 meters above sea level. Though it is said Nianbaoyuze has 360 lakes, the local tourism bureau and local Tibetans said they are mainly 16 large lakes and about 300 smaller lakes dotting the mountains.However, because 360 is a lucky number in Buddhism, the Tibetans believe there are 3,600 peaks and 360 lakes in Nianbaoyuze. Nianbaoyuze is said to be the birthplace of the local Tibetans on the Golok Grassland. As the main peak on the southeastern section of Mountain Bayan Har, it is about three hours drive from the most beautiful county in Sichuan province, Aba, and 40 kilometers from the small Jiuzhi County. Before the middle of last year,Nianbaoyuze was still largely unknown among most of the "outsiders" from Guoluo Grassland. However, its diversified landforms and various kinds of plants and wild animals have attracted not only adventurers but also numerous scientists and geologists. By May 2006, Nianbaoyuze was appraised as a National Nature park,and is now being promoted by the local tourism bureau. Since then,the name "Nianbaoyuze" has been spread fast among tourists and backpackers. Here you can find no lake more transparent or more clear. Being regarded as holy lakes, these waters are forbidden to be touched by people. Only two years ago, two monks from Aba County adventured to swim in t he lakes, yet later both were found dead in mysterious circumstances.It is said there is a god living in the lakes that protects the local Tibetans, and the local Tibetans said the monks' deaths were caused by t he punishment from this god. Nianbaoyuze is also home for various plants and rarely seen wild animals. In t he sout heastern parts,there are virgin forests of pines and firs. The ravines are home to elusive snow leopards, brown bears and lynxes. Climbing on the main peak of Mountain Nianbaoyuze is one of the dreams for many mountaineers. The mountain is covered by a gigantic glacier, and the main peak is 5,369 meters above sea level. The mountain is at a longitude of 101 degrees east and a latitude of 33.35 degrees north. Last year, Nianbaoyuze was named as one of the top 10 mountains "with great difficulties for climbing" in China. Summer, with hundreds of flowers blooming and the slight changes in weather, is considered to be the best season to enjoy the beauty of Nianbaoyuze. And summer is also a good time to experience the holy rituals by the local monks. Monks from Sege'er Temple in Aba County come here ever y July to hold rituals for those who have finished t he three-year ascetic practices, according to the doctrines of Buddhism. The monks will throw green branches wrapped with silk into the lake,which they believe shows respect to the Natural God. So far, there is still no road in t his area, and a single trip to travel across this place will take at least seven days. But a local guide is a must to avoid getting lost in this vast land, and plenty of food and camping equipment is also essential. For common visitors, the Fairy Lake and Siren lakes are most approachable. However, even to walk across the two lakes takes at least one day. Covering an area of more than 10 square kilometers, the Fairy Lake is a freshwater lake teeming with non-squama fish (fish without scales). People cannot even touch t he swimming fish in the clean water, because the fish in the lake are also considered holy just like the lake itself. Therefore, Tibetans are forbidden from eating the fish.

(Source:Shanghai, 2007-03-24)