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Discover Songtsam Lodge Benzilan (Sponsor Post)

Songtsam is Asia Week New York's 2020 Presenting Sponsor. Learn more about another one of their stunning properties below!

Nestled in an intimate green valley by the Yangtze River, Songtsam Lodge Benzilan features spacious guest rooms, all decorated in a modern Sino-Tibetan style. The lodge is surrounded by authentic white-walled Tibetan homes and has views of a small prayer house that rests atop a hill. It takes only 10 minutes from the busy little town of Benzilan to reach this hidden valley seemingly removed from the outside world. Some of the exquisite antique carpets and furniture displayed in the different Songtsam lodges were collected from the villages in this area; and that’s how founder Pema Dorjee found this secret location.

Destinations & Activities
At an altitude of 2,000 metres, Benzilan stands on a narrow strip of land on the right bank of the Upper Yangzte River, tucked between the water and the sharply rising hills. As the altitude falls by more than 1,000 metres, the temperature rises, and travellers now arrive at another Shangri-La rich in blooming flowers and flourishing tress. Some of the region’s most delicious fruit is grown here, including juicy grapes and watermelons during the summer, and mouth-watering tangerines in Autumn.

The little town of Benzilan was once one of the most important stops of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Although the glory of the once charming trading post has gone, fortunately the surrounding countryside remains intact; traditional handicraft methods have survived commercial mass-production, leaving a glance into the history of this famous trading road. Dotted with farms, small temples and some of the most pristine Tibetan villages, the countryside here is an ideal place to experience tranquil village life, and appreciate well-preserved local culture and traditions. A short hike leads to more pristine Tibetan villages and original forests in the mountains with stunning views of the lush, deep Yangtze River gorge – a journey of true discovery.

Dongzhulin Monastery sits forty minutes away from Benzilan on the way to Tibet. Although not as popular amongst tourists, it is a significant destination for the local Tibetans. The monastery has several “living” Buddhas and each year the Mask Dancing Ceremony attracts thousands of followers. It was built in 1667, before Shangri-La’s Songzanlin Monastery, and at one time housed treasures, which rivaled those of Lhasa’s Potala Palace. Unfortunately, the monastery was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution and the current structure was restored in 1987.