Lijiang is really two
towns, two distinct parts divided by Lion Hill - the New Town, which came
into being 43 years ago, and the Old Town, an 865-year-old architectural
gem, although it looks like a huge inkstone, hence
its name Dayan or Big Inkstone.
Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis and founder of the
Mongol dynasty in China, came this way in
1253 on his conquest of Yunnan and established an
administrative office which 23 years later became the Lijiang
Military and Civil Protectorate . Thereafter the
name " Lijiang
" began to be used.
is the center of the Naxi people, the capital of
the Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County, and a place of
utter contentment, where birds chirp from their cages hanging from the
eaves of the houses and gurgling branches wind their ways through the
streets and lanes in every part of the Old Town.
With Sifang Street at the core, the
entire city spreads out in all direction, and is crisscrossed by a
labyrinth of flagged streets and alleyways. Most of the dwellings,
scattered at the foot of a mountain or by the rivers which flow through
every nook and corner of the city, are brick-and-tile structures with
carved doors and painted windows. Traffic across the rivers is facilitated
by a large number of tiny stone bridges.