My first exposure to the legend of Shambhala was when I went to boarding school. There was a huge, plush, five-star Shangri-La (now Traders) hotel in the middle of the nearby town. Even the bathrooms were impressive, all in marble. In those days, although I had no idea that there was anything more to the myth… the word Shangri-La itself ushered up images of lush greenery and tasty fruit. My main memory of this hotel is of sneaking into their freshly cleaned bathroom with my friend and dying our hair black together. We hadn’t fully thought the whole thing through–for example how long we had to leave the dye on and how we were gonna rinse it out afterwards — in the end we managed to wash it out by flushing out hair down one of the newly cleaned toilets until it rinsed out! Oh the good ole days.
Many years later, after I had completely forgotten about the mystical legends of Shangri-La, I had a interesting experience while doing some culinary consulting at remote hotel in Myanmar. The Chef there was from Rakhine state and soon started talking to me of Shambhala. As I listened (it was sometimes difficult to understand what he was saying) I realized he was talking about what I knew as Shangri-La. He told me it was a hard to reach place which people from any religion could attain by finding their true self. I soon started looking into it and discovered Shambhala means “to make sacred” “home” “God’s home” “city of the sun” “heart of Venus” “the white island” and is said to have been a beautiful city in what is now the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.