In Search Of Myths And Heroes: Shangri-La
Airs Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, December 10, 2010
Living Legends Quiz
The myths and mythical themes of "In Search Of Myths And Heroes" are alive and well today in literature and film. Test your mythological savvy with this quiz.
In this series, Michael Wood goes in search of four of the world's most famous myths: The Queen of Sheba, the earthly paradise of Shangri-La, King Arthur and Jason and the Argonauts. These gripping adventures take the viewer to some of the most extraordinary places on earth, exploring stories that have captivated the world for thousands of years.
The third of Michael Wood's historical journeys takes viewers on a thrilling trek through India, Nepal and Tibet in search of Shangri-La. The tale of the magical valley hidden behind the Himalayas was popularized in the 1930s movie "Lost Horizon," but the myth of a secret earthly paradise is much older.
The legend of this lost valley is one of the most ancient Tibetan myths, and one of the most striking myths of a sacred landscape, a landscape that inspires stories itself.
To find the truth behind the legend, Wood travels on foot through some of the world's most sacred mountains before finally reaching the fantastic ruins of a lost city, which he believes is the real inspiration behind the myth.
The present Dalai Lama says this about Shambala:
Nowadays, no one knows where Shambala is. Although it is said to exist, people cannot see it, or communicate with it in an ordinary way. Some people say it is located in another world, others that it is an ideal land, a place of the imagination. Some say it was a real place, which cannot now be found. Some believe there are openings into that world which may be accessed from this. Whatever the truth of that, the search for Shambala traditionally begins as an outer journey that becomes a journey of inner exploration and discovery.
Today, Shangri-La is seen both as a place, and as an era of enlightened consciousness. The Tibetans say that the need to find paradise elsewhere is it what keeps us from having it. Wherever Shangri-La is, the search for it continues.