Sichuan-Tibet line is short for Sichuan-Tibet Highway that stretches from Yiguan Temple in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province in the east to the Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet Highway Monument in Lhasa City, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region in the west. The highway is divided into South Line and North Line: South Line stretches from Chengdu, Ya’an, Kangding, Tongolo and Batang of Sichuan Province and Mangkang, Zuogong, Bamda, Baxoi, Bomi, Nyingchi, Bayi, Gongbujiangda, Mozhugongka and Dazi of Tibet Autonomous Region to Lhasa, which has a length of 2115 kilometers and is a part of No. 318 State Highway (from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in the east to the Zhangmu Port of Tibet Autonomous Region China-Nepal Highway in the west). With a full length of 2414 kilometers, North Line overlaps with South Line at the section from Chengdu to Tongolo, goes north after separating from South Line at Tongolo, overlaps with it at Bamda after Qianning, Ganzi, Dege, Jiangda in Tibet Autonomous Region, Qamdo, and finally leads to Lhasa.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway is the first highway that links Chengdu, Sichuan Province with Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. Prior to the building of this highway, the hub for economic and cultural exchange among the nationalities in southwest China was confined to the Ancient Tea Horse Road for thousands of years---a traffic road with the highest terrain and the most steep road conditions, which winds amidst the mountains of Hengduan Mountainous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region Plateau. Before Sichuan-Tibet Highway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway were opened to traffic, it would take six months to a year for human or livestock who were carrying stuff to cover a round trip by braving wind and snow and trudging through from Lhasa to Chengdu, Sichuan Province or Sining, Qinghai Province; nowadays, it only takes one month by bus.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway was started to be built in April, 1950 when the road construction force of New China cleaved mountains and controlled water, and was finally opened for traffic on December 25, 1954 together with Qinghai-Tibet Highway. No. 317 line and No. 318 line of Sichuan-Tibet Highway, both famous for their beautiful sceneries and precipitous roads, are hailed by China National Geography as China’s landscape avenue. Traveling to Tibet Autonomous Region along Sichuan-Tibet Highway needs to climb over high mountains and wade through rapids which are lined with hardships and dangers; however, snow mountains, primeval forests, grasslands, glacier and many big rivers (including Jinsha River, Lancang River, Nujiang River, etc.) along the road together foster magnificent scenery, which are all wonderlands for tourists and adventure lovers.
Compared to the south line, the regions that the north line passes through are mostly pasturing areas (such as Nakchu area), with the altitude much higher, the population much more scarce, and the scenery much more primitive and magnificent.
Compared with the section of the south line from Xindu Bridge to Batang, the northern Sichuan -Tibet line from Xindu Bridge to Dege basically goes up along the Xianshui River and the Yalong River, where there are meadows, canyons, rivers, Kawaharas and other terrains, not like the South line with the height and flatness. Danba is the main distribution area of Jiarong Tibetan. Tagong grassland (also known as Maoya grassland) has strengths in its scenery and humanities. The dwellings in Daofu and Luhuo are the best in the whole Kang District even the whole Tibetan area. The river valleys of the Ganzi County also are the most excellent rural areas in the Kang District, with Monastery buildings everywhere. The Mani town, Yilhun Lhatso and Chola Mountain areas have beautiful natural scenery, and Dege is the cultural center of the whole Tibetan area. The Chola Mountain is at the highest point along the highway with altitude of 4916 meters, it has wonderful scenery, and snow mountain with ice crown is just like a Princess in the clouds. Shiqu has the most beautiful grassland in the Kang District. If we go to Yushu Prefecture of Qinghai Province via Shiqu, we can reach Sining (the capital of Qinghai Province) or Qinghai Lake after passing Maduo and hot springs. Large numbers of plateau lakes, snow capped mountains and hot springs lie along the roads ,where very few tourists set foot in, being the best respected line of those off-road explorers.
The beat season for going to Tibet Autonomous Region along Sichuan-Tibet Line is in May and from mid-August to October. The period from May to August is the rainy season of west China when debris flows and collapses along Sichuan-Tibet Line are frequent, so scheduling shall be plenty. Apart from access to appreciating the unique beauty and enchanting scenery of the rainy season along Sichuan-Tibet Line, courage and determination to hike across the collapse region are also necessary.
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