ABOUT THE BOOK:
The 'Other' Shangri-La is a work of narrative non-fiction based on Shivaji Das and his wife's journey through the Sino-Tibetan frontier land of western Sichuan. It describes the rugged landscape of this region that comprises 7,000-metre-high mountains, deep gorges, vast grasslands and the world's most dangerous roads. It also explores the region's history and the peculiarities of its scattered settlements: Litang-the world's highest town that is also the birthplace of important lamas; Larung-the world's largest monastery and highest slum; Danba-a 'Beauty Valley' famed since antiquity for its good-looking and strong-minded women; Yading-a pilgrim circuit once terrorized by bandit monks; and Kangding-a small town that gave birth to China's favourite love song.
Along their journey, the travelling duo indulged in several adventures that are written about humorously in this book-staying with nomad families, debating with monks on reviving Buddhism in China, getting spooked by a bone-collector at a sky-burial site, becoming investigators in a love triangle in the 'Beauty Valley', and running away from paparazzi tourists who mistook the travellers as participants in a local beauty contest.
Above all, this book explores in detail the lives and cultures of the people inhabiting these remote lands who are now subject to turbulent socio-economic factors. It also explores the testy relationship between Hans and Tibetans in what is arguably the most restless of the Tibetan-inhabited areas in China.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
SHIVAJI DAS is the author of three travel memoirs-Sacred Love: Erotic Arts in the temples of Nepal (2018), Angels by the Murky River: Travels Off the Beaten Track (2017) and Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores and Sumba, Indonesia (2013).
Assam-born Shivaji's articles have been published in TIME, Asian Geographic, Outlook Traveller, The Jakarta Post, Conscious Magazine and Freethinker. His interviews have been featured on BBC, CNBC, The Economist, Travel Radio Australia, Around the World TV, among others.
His photographs, in collaboration with his wife Yolanda Yu (fondly called Lobo), have been exhibited in the Darkroom Gallery, Vermont (USA), Kuala Lumpur International Photography Festival (Malaysia), the Arts House (Singapore), and the National Library (Singapore).
Shivaji is the conceptualizer of the Global Migrant Festival and Migrant and Refugee Poetry Contests, and is the Asia-Pacific Managing Director at Frost & Sullivan, Singapore.