White Water Terraces of Shangri-la, China

Baishuitai, also known as the White Water Terraces, is located in the foothills of the Haba Snow Mountains, 101 kilometers (about 62 miles) southeast of the Shangri-la County. Snugly carved into a mountain slope some 2400 meters above sea level, Baishuitai, from its base to its top, measures 140 meters and spans some 160 meters in width at its widest place, making Baishuitai the biggest limestone terraces in China.

Water from the higher reaches of Haba Snow Mountain seeps down into the uppermost terraced basin then spills over to the basin below, which it fills up before spilling over to the next basin, and so on and so forth, until the water spills over the outer rim of the last of this set of terraced basins. The basins themselves have been hollowed out over time by the erosive action of the acidic water, which in earlier times, drew out certain minerals from the limestone, creating weak carbonic acid.

Besides being a beautifully scenic spot, the Baishuitai is also the birthplace of Dongba culture of the Naxi Minority Group. According to legend, the first saint of the Dongba Religion was attracted by the fascinating scenery of this place on his way back from Tibet. He stopped there and started spreading his beliefs. Since then, people regard the Baishui Water Terraces as a shrine. Each year, on the eighth day of the second lunar month, the Naxi people will gather here to celebrate their traditional festival by singing and dancing all day and night.