Lijiang is both the name of the city and of a county. Situated in the northwestern part of the Yunnan Province, where the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau meets the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Lijiang is about 150 kilometers from Burma and about 200 kilometers from Tibet. Most of the county is sparsely populated with nature preserves, high mountains, small towns, farms, and the shepherds’ pastures.
The whole county of Lijiang has about 1.2 million people in area of about 21,200 square kilometers. The city is in the cradle of a number of minority regions - the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the north, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in the south, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in the west and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province in the east.
Lijiang is the political, economic and cultural centre of the northwestern Yunnan Province. It once was an essential stop on the Southern Silk Road and Tea-Horse Road leading to Tibet, Sichuan, India and other southeastern Asian countries. The Lijiang city contains the only Naxi Autonomous Prefecture in China and is the home to Naxi ethnic group, who created a unique system of Dongba Culture throughout history. Dongba language is known as the only complete living pictography in the world. The prolific religious Lijiang Murals , or that Baisha Murals, testifies to the mystery of this culture. Additionally, the melodious Naxi Ancient Music , called 'Living Fossil of Music', has stepped out of the stage of China and won the acclaim of the whole world.
Dayan Town, the capital of Lijiang, was first built at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty. This town is known as "Oriental Venice", or "Suzhou on the Plateau", with water flowing pass almost every household, and every home surrounded by picturesque willow trees.
There are many famous scenic spots in Lijiang city, including the Lijiang Ancient Town, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Three Parallel Rivers, The First Bend of the Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Laojun Mountain, a "World Plants Gene Bank", as well as Lugu Lake which is known as the "Penglai fairyland". Because it is near to the world famous Shangri-la and the historic and cultural city of Dali, Lijiang has become an ideal traveling destination for domestic and foreign tourists.
Lijiang City comprises one district and four counties:Gucheng District (Old Town District), Yongsheng County, Huaping County, Yulong Nakhi Autonomous County, Ninglang Yi Autonomous County.
Festivals in Lijiang
San Duo Festival
San Duo is the patron saint of the Naxi Group, so each year the local Naxi people will get together to hold a worshipping celebration on 8th February of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is considered to be the most important annual event for the Naxi Group. As well as the big communal ceremony, each Naxi family will hold its own sacred ceremony. On that day, the locals also have some outside entertainment and picnics.
This is a famous festival of those of the Yi Group living in Ninglang County of Lijiang. Originally held on every 24th June of Chinese lunar calendar, this festival was supposed to use fire to protect crops from the destructive insect by fire. Now, it is a bustling trading fair in this region, also involving entertainments. By night, the locals will take torches with them, and gather for singing and dancing around a bonfire.
Zhuanshan Festival (Walk Around Mountain Festival)
Local Ethnic Minorities Celebrating Festival This is one of the very important festivals for those Mosuo people living along the charming Lugu Lake. On every 25th July of Chinese lunar calendar, the Mosuo people will wear their finest clothes, visiting the Lion Mountain beside Lugu Lake on foot or horseback. The Lion Mountain is said to be the embodiment of the Mosuo people's guardian goddess. People will burn joss sticks, hang up colorful prayer flags and offer tributes to their goddess on the mountain. They also hold a series of entertainments such as horse racing, wrestling and singing. At this time, young men and girls will look for their lovers, too.
Bangbang Festival (Stick Festival)
Annually held by the Naxi Group on 15th January of the Chinese lunar calendar, this festival marks the end of the Spring Festival and the beginning of the agricultural production in a new year. Originally held in the local temples as an important religious fair, it was later moved into the Old Town. On that day, locals flock into the Square Street from far and near, selling or buying wooden and bamboo farm tools. In recent years, this festival has grown to be a large trading event, including farm tools, flowers and trees, commodities and toys for children. Now, not only the locals but also a large number of domestic and overseas travelers take part in the Bangbang Festival.