Reviving Shaxi town on ancient Tea Horse Road
CGTN

The ancient temples, old alleys and caravansaries of the ancient town of Shaxi are not just reminders of past glories, but also attract tourists from around the world.

A remote township in Jianchuan County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Shaxi was once an important trading hub for tea, herbs, silk and salt on the ancient Tea Horse Road that linked Yunnan to neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region.

Shaxi Ancient Town in southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo

Shaxi Ancient Town in southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo

Dong Zengxu, director of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Jianchuan, said that in ancient times, commercial exchanges not only brought Shaxi economic prosperity, but also made it a place of blended cultures and religions.

"In the old days, it was an adventurous business to travel along the Tea Horse Road because trade caravans had to face harsh conditions on snowy mountains and go through steep ravines and fast-moving waters," Dong said. "When they made it to Shaxi, they felt the place just like a paradise, and then a marketplace was formed here."

However, the late 19th century saw the decline of the once-busy trading hub because it was far away from emerging modern arterial roads, and other means of transport replaced the traveling caravans.

Shaxi Ancient Town has well preserved the Tea Horse Road. /VCG Photo

Shaxi Ancient Town has well preserved the Tea Horse Road. /VCG Photo

In 2002, a restoration project was initiated to preserve the cultural heritage and landscape, improve infrastructure and promote economic growth in Shaxi.

But the preservation work was challenging. "The ramshackle theater and guest houses were overgrown with grass and weeds," recalled Dong.

Restoration workers carefully marked all parts of the  ancient buildings. They took down some parts and fixed them back to their initial places after cleaning and repairing.

An aerial view of Shaxi Ancient Town after restoration. /VCG Photo

An aerial view of Shaxi Ancient Town after restoration. /VCG Photo

Years of efforts are paying off. The project saw old buildings renovated and sceneries beautified, thus, turning the town into a desirable destination for tourists at home and abroad.

Booming tourism has benefited local residents. During the past Spring Festival holiday, over 114,000 tourists visited Shaxi and tourism revenues rose 11 percent year-on-year to 134 million yuan (19.8 million U. S. dollars), according to data from the Tourism Resources Protection, Construction and Management Committee of Jianchuan.

(Cover: An ancient theater temple at Shaxi Ancient Town, southwest China's Yunnan Province. /VCG Photo )

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency