''SHANGRI-LA'' CAVE PICTURES: Art, Texts, Bones Revealed

''SHANGRI-LA'' CAVE PICTURES: Art, Texts, Bones Revealed
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A 13th- to 14th-century painting depicts the Tibetan Buddhist protector god Mahakala on the wall of a cave in the ancient kingdom of Mustang, today part of Nepal.

Cultural treasures found in the Mustang caves could mean the sites are linked to "hidden valleys" thought to represent the Buddhist spiritual paradise known as Shambhala, which many scholars believe had a real-world counterpart.

"These hidden valleys were created at times of strife and when Buddhist practice and principals were threatened," said expedition co-leader Coburn. For his 1933 novel, British writer James Hilton used the concept of Shambhala as the basis for his "lost" valley of Shangri-La, an isolated mountain community that was a storehouse of cultural wisdom.

ON TV Lost Cave Temples of the Himalayas and Secrets of Shangri-La premiere Wednesday, November 18, on PBS (check local listings).
—Photograph courtesy Kris Erickson
 
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