Meili Snow Mountain towers over the landscape in the west of Deqin County (Shangri-la) in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Also known as ‘Prince Snow Mountain’, it is the most sacred mountain the in the world. Meili Mountain has long been famous for Kang Karpo Peak, Yunnan‘s tallest mountain – 6,740m above sea level. Among one of the eight sacred mountains the Tibetans worship, it looks like gilded when the sun rises. There are 13 lesser peaks around it, each more than 6,000m above sea level.
Legend has it that Kang Karpo Peak is the incarnation of a Tibetan God who helped the local people drive the evil spirit away. The mountain’s name means white snow mountain in the Tibetan language and it is named after a patron saint in Tibetan Buddhism. It’s said Kang Karpo often rode a white horse with a sword in his hand. His majestic appearance was similar to that of the peak. It is said that reaching the top of the Potala Palace, you would see the profile of Kang Karpo through the colorful clouds. Every year from the end of autumn to the start of winter, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims walk to pay their homage to Kang Karpo.
The best season for visiting Meili Mountain is from January to May, during the time it has snow-capped peaks, dense forests, vast grasslands and beautiful wild flowers. The rainy summer season makes the trail muddy and difficult. The place is also nice from mid-October to mid-November when it is covered with marvelous autumn colors. Winter is cold and heavy snowfalls may block roads and isolate the region for weeks or months.
Location and Geography
Meili Snow Mountain is located in “Three Parallel Rivers” area of Jinsha River, Lacang River and Nujiang River, is north-south direction of the vast snow-capped mountains, the north range called Meili Snow Mountain, middle range called Prince Snow Mountain, the southern range called Biluo Snow Mountain, and the north range to Tibet Adong Geni Mountain. There are 13 mountains at an average altitude of 6000 meters of above which are called “13 Prince Peaks”. Main peak is 6740 meters above sea level, 98.6 ° east longitude, 28.4 °north latitude.
Humans conquered Mt. Qomolangma, the world tallest mountain, a long time ago but no one has climbed Kang Karpo Peak, which is protected by perpendicular cliffs and a treacherous climate. The peak remains mysterious and elusive because it’s constantly surrounded by clouds and mist. Beneath the peak, the Mingyong and Sinong glaciers stretch down to the forest at an elevation of 2,700m, only 800m from Lancang River. It’s rare to find permanent glaciers at such a low latitude and they’re definitely worth a visit.
What to See
Prince Snow Mountain main peak Kawagebo, in Tibetan language means “white snow mountain”, commonly known as “god of snow mountain”. Legend has it that originally it was the demon with nine heads and eighteen arms, after he was enlightened by Padma Sambhava, and he accepted precepts for laypeople, converted to Buddhism, from that he was the head of the edge of snow area. Kawagebo statue was often enshrined upon the altar, he rode a white horse, armed with swords, imposing, just like a patron saint.
Kawagebo peak and its surrounding peaks are called “thirteen peaks”, but the meaning is to take “thirteen” which is auspicious number in the Tibetan, so it is not accurate 13 peaks but many peaks that called by a joint name. The famous peaks are Miancimu Peak, Jiwarenan Peak, Cuguilaka Peak, etc.
The graceful peak Miancimu Peak, meaning the sea goddess, is located in the south Kawaboge Peak. According to legend, the peak is the wife of Kawagebo Peak. And Kawaboge went on expedition to Eluohai Kingdom (now Indian region) along with King Gesar, Eluohai Kingdom wanted to deceived them so they pretended to betroth Miancimu to Kawagebo, but unexpectedly Kawagebo and Miancimu became greatly attached to each other and never to be separated. Also there is a saying that Miancimu is the daughter of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, although she was Kawagebo’s wife, she missed her hometown so she stood towards her hometown. There always is mist around snow peak, people call it the veil of shy Miancimu.
Meaning “top of the five Buddhas” Jiwarenan consists of five paralleling flat and sharp peaks, is located at the north of Miancimu Peak, 5770.5 meters above sea level. And Cukalagui means the peak above circle lake, is located just above the Siqia glaciers.
Meili Snow Mountain has Mingyong, Sinong, Niuba and Nongsong four big glaciers, belong to modern glacier of the world’s rare low latitude, low temperature (5 ℃ below zero), low altitude (2700 meters), the longest and the largest glacier is the Mingyong Glacier.
The Mingyong Glacier, in particular, drops from an elevation of 5,500m to the forest zone around 2,700m above the sea level in the rainy season. From afar it looks like a huge white snake wriggling its way among the verdant mountains. A one-hour mule ride along the Mingyong Glacier ends at the Prince Temple, a very important sacred site for Tibetans. This is the one must-see destination on any trip around Meili. Outside the temple, there are several huge mounds of colorful religious inscriptions. Lots of Tibetan pilgrims also travel here to walk around the mountain. The stones inside the holy mountain are not regular ones. The local people even say one of the rocks embodies the wisdom of the world. The pilgrims bring the ashes of their deceased family members here, praying for a quick and good reincarnation for them. On the south side of the main peak, a waterfall the locals call ‘a deluge of rain and God-mandated cascade’ tumbles down from a breathtaking height of 1,000m. Pure water splashes from the cracks in the snow and you can often see rainbows above the fall.
The mountains possess some of the region highest diversity plants. They also provide habitat for many wild animals. As you breathe the extremely fresh air, you can imagine how the pilgrims feel when they walk their spiritual pilgrimages to the Meili Mountains. There is a sense of togetherness, a perfect harmony with the Mother Nature.
Meili Snow Mountain has rich variety of plants, the forest coverage rate is high, the perpendicular band spectrum are developed: alpine ice and snow zone, 4600 ~ 6740 meters above sea level, there is no vegetation or only a small amount of alpine cushion vegetation growing; Alpine meadow thickets subzone, 4200 ~ 4600 meters above sea level, there are growing weeds, red-spotted stonecrop, lichen, pedicularis, etc.; Cold temperature dark coniferous forest zone, 3100 ~ 4400 meters above sea level, there are spruce, fir, hemlock, and larch, sikang pine and azalea, arrow bamboos, red birch, oak, etc; Needle leaf mixed forest zones, at an altitude of 2500 (or 2800 meters) ~ 3100 m, there re Lijiang spruce, Yunnan hemlock, Douglas fir, yew and other conifers and so on; Arid valley thickets, 2000 ~ 2500 meters above sea level (or 2800 meters).
Unique low latitudes, complex plateau terrain, indistinctive four seasons, and obvious dry and wet plateau monsoon climate, makes Meili Snow Mountain is a wild animal’s paradise.
There are first-grade state protection animals, like leopard, clouded leopards and takin, secondary protection animals like black bear, leeser panda, lynx, tawny musk deer, zibet, rasse, and the rare tetraophasis, and crested hawk, kestrels, ithaginis and other 113 kinds of lovely birds. American National Geographic Magazine listed it as a one of five pieces of “the last pure land” in the world.
There are a few ideal places for viewing snow mountain, the first one is under the white snow mountain when gets out of No.214 national highway, where people can have a view of the Meili Snow Mountain, but the road is narrow so should not be stay for long. Second is top of Wunong observation deck. From Shangri-la into the Deqin on the No.214 national road, about 15 kilometers from Deqin county, there are 13 white towers with open terrain, quite spectacular. Third, Feilai Temple incense burning platform. Feilai Temple Village is located in No.214 national highway from Deqin to Tibet, about 11 kilometers from Deqin county. Local Tibetans and passing tourists will burn incense and pray, this is the best place for viewing sunrise and sunset. Feilai Temple incense burning platform has become a fully functional sightseeing place with catering accommodation and even bar, the vast majority of visitors live in here to watch the sunrise and sunset. And it is convenient to go to Yubeng Village and Mingyong Glacier from here.
How to Get
From Shangri-la county, there are buses to Deqin every day, the whole distance will be 5 to 6 hours’ driving. From Deqin to Feilai Temple, Xidang Spring, the bus is no firm, you can check the details in Deqin County Bus Station at 0888-8413322.
People can take taxi to Feilai Temple from Deqin, Mingyong Glacier, and Xidang Village. In Feilai Temple, there are minibuses to Xidang Village, the price can be negotiate with driver.
【Chinese Name】: 梅里雪山
【Recommended Visiting Time】: 4 days
【Best Time to Visit Meili Snow Mountain】: the best time to visit Meili Snow Mountan is from January to February. From the early November to May in the next year, it is likely to see the Sunshine on the Goldentop in Meili Snow Mountain, especially in January to February when it is winter to spring, the air is dry and fresh. Winter is cold but it is the best season to see snow mountain, because the weather is mostly sunny day with clear air. There is sunlight in day time so you will not feel cold but it is quite hard at night.