Shambala; Kashmir’s own lost city of Atlantis

For some Shambala was a myth, and for others, an undeniable reality. Similar to the story of the lost city of Atlantis, the legend of Shambala has been around for the last two thousand years. A futuristic secret kingdom with green meadows, robotics, prosperous people, and a king that will one-day triumph overall. So is the legend of this utopian kingdom that lays in the lap of the Himalayas. It has not just kept the scholars busy but also Alexander the Great who went to search for it. The countries like Japan, England, Russia, Germany, and America have done their researches on the subject. According to the legend, the kingdom is spread across Mongolia, central Asia, Tibet, Ladakh, and Kashmir. In 1925, US-Russia sent Nicholas Roerich in search of the kingdom, this was later followed by sponsoring of Aurel Stein in Central Asia, and finally, Japan-France sent Paul Pelliot and Count Otani in the same region.

The legend has it that the kingdom has eight regions surrounded by mountains, the king’s palace in the center is made of gold and precious stones. The kingdom is advanced in science and technology, and people can move faster in space and time. When the world will be full of wars and suffering, the kingdom will lead and guide mankind. The Buddhist legends further call the kingdom a place of peace where the people are tall and robust living among meadows and apple gardens.

The legend further says that the last king of this mythical kingdom will defend it against the barbarian forces and truth shall prevail. It’s believed Alexander the Great also went in search of this kingdom after he was inspired by Apollonius who visited Central Asia in 4BC. The latter declared that the way to the kingdom was shown to him by a Greek-speaking boy. Alexander had the backing of the Greek intellectuals in his expedition. He started his journey from Taxila to Sialkot (Pakistan). A little far away is Kandar, where the grave of his horse can still be spotted on the river bank called Bidaspes. After subduing the local king, he ordered his forces to return Taxila from where he moved towards the north and wandered between Bactria, Marakanda, and Cyroplis. He moved from Bokhara to Markanda and then to Tashkent. He later took the southern route, but all in vain. There also exists a Persian legend about the hidden continent beyond Koh Kaaf:

Towards the north of Persia, there is a dry continent. Then along the 60 degrees of longitude, one has to proceed towards the west into the cold continent. Then one has to proceed between 60 & 45 degrees of longitude to cross the icy and snow-capped mountains. It will take about 7 months to reach the land of the Aab-i-Hayat.

Another legend is that he was looking for the elixir of life, but when he reached, he was disappointed by seeing the moving skeletons who were neither dead nor alive. He left without drinking.

There is another legend attached to this which says that Alexander and Khizr went together in search of this secret land, but later took their own ways. The latter found the fountain and remained alive. In Kashmiri traditions and folklore, Khizr is one of the religious figures, who is immortal and appears to guide mankind. However, it’s unlikely that such a secret kingdom existed in the lap of the Himalayas. To conclude, it’s imperative to mention that in every religion and civilization, there is a prophecy of the last king, a prophet in other words, who will fight against evil and bring tranquility to this world. The legend of Shambala is folklore that even sent the powerful nations into a frenzy in the past, but the fact that the forces of light will one day defeat that of the wickedness is undeniable.

The story is a legend and shouldn’t be confused with history. Even though it has prompted scholars and kings to spend years in search, the stories are stories.

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