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Zhagana

Zhagana

By Melanie du Toit

TP 201904 China 02鎵庡皶閭

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I鈥檝e never seen a more magnificent place in my life. The scenery is just absolutely godly and any photographer鈥檚 dream world. Zhagana is a hidden Tibetan area in China鈥檚 Gannan. Kindly note: it鈥檚 not in Tibet, but is called a Tibetan area, because the citizens of the village are all Tibetan and are living a Tibetan lifestyle.

 

Located in Diebu County, Gannan, Zhagana is a mountainous region on the north-eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The majestic views of the mountain and hidden village with small wooden houses give you a sensation of that close to being in paradise. When the mist covers the mountains or rolls over the unique village, it makes way for a mystical scenery that you can lose yourself in.


TP 201904 China 03Photo by: Melanie du Toit

 

Many travellers are unaware of the hidden beauty of this perfect place created by God himself. Most probably because this area can only be reached by car or bus. Once you enter Zhagana, you鈥檒l see many wooden houses next to the road, the main area (where the mountain hike) can be found and it is a bigger space with buses and some curios shops selling rain coats and snacks.

 

Don鈥檛 be fooled, the ride to Zhagana can be very long and treacherous. I took a bus from Chengdu to this hidden village. The distance between my home city and the village is about 615km. After a 7-hour bus ride, we covered half of the trip and had to overnight in an Ancient city called 鈥淪ongpan鈥, which is worth a stopover when you have to travel a long distance. The next day we departed at 6:00. At about 11am we reached the mountainous areas of Gannan, that鈥檚 located on the border of Sichuan province and Gannan province. After a roller coaster ride of bendy roads and dangerous turns, we finally reached Zhagana.

 

For travellers coming from Beijing, it鈥檚 a 1,850km journey and your best bet is to take an airplane to Xi鈥榓n or Chengdu, and then take an 8 or 10-hour bus ride from there.

TP 201904 China 04
Photo by: Melanie du Toit

 

The long bus ride next to the Bailong River was definitely worth it! The views on the way to paradise are amazing. Open grasslands with blue skies and yellow daisies scattered about. Next to the road there are many Tibetan prayer houses and colourful prayer flags. Tibetan ladies in traditional clothes stand next to the roads selling dried yak meat, fruit and other snacks for travellers.

 

Once you reach Zhagana, you can switch off everything and just enjoy the quiet and relaxing atmosphere the villages have to offer. The red roads zig-zag through the small village. Some elders sell milk teas and snacks from their homes, while other citizens continue on with daily chores like chopping fire wood and building on to their houses. I was surprised to see that there were a lot of hotel-like accommodations available between the traditionally built houses. As well as restaurants that serve delicious traditional Tibetan food, mostly consisting of Yak meat, rice and vegetables.


TP 201904 China 05Photo by: Melanie du Toit

 

There are several options of things you can do, while staying in Zhagana. You can go trekking up the 3500 metre altitude mountain. When the trek up the pathways get too much, you can ride on one of the horses the locals rent out for a small fee. There are a spacious prairies you can sit and lounge on, while having a picnic, taking photos or just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view of the sun shining through the clouds onto the village.

TP 201904 China 06Photo by: Melanie du Toit

 

You can visit the nearby Tibetan Buddhist Temple and meet some locals. There are a few quaint tea houses, where you can sip on special flower teas or try Tibetan Butter tea (which is basically melted butter and milk), while reading a book or appreciating the views.

 

Zhagana is quite a small village and you can walk easily from the village onto the mountain. The village is divided into four smaller neighbourhoods (Daiba, Yeri, Dongwa and Dari), but in comparison to huge cities, like Beijing and Chengdu, it鈥檚 pretty easy to walk from one to the other. There are no taxis, so once you reach Zhagana by bus, you can do and see everything in about 2 days by walking or catching a ride from locals. Unless you want to experience the quietness of the area for longer and do one-day treks up the mountain, as climbing the mountain can take between 5-7 hours. There are about 4 different routes up the mountain, but all end up with the same view.

TP 201904 China 07Some houses have big bonfire parties after 10pm and they are very welcoming to travellers. One of the locals even invited me into his home and he showed me furniture he made from wood with beautiful Tibetan craftwork on it. More travellers joined us, and we sat around the fire, while drinking some local beers. Two young girls living a few doors down danced around the fire, while they played traditional Tibetan music over speakers. We tried to keep up with the girl鈥檚 unique traditional dance styles, but we quickly felt tired and watched them in awe, while they skipped and twirled effortlessly around the bonfire.

 

Experiencing the tranquillity China鈥檚 Diebu County has to offer is priceless.

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