As the first national park on the Chinese mainland, Pudacuo was open to visitors in 2007. It is about 22 kilometers east from Shangri-la county seat. Pudacuo is the transliteration of “Mandala” or “Putuo” which refers to a sacred mountain of Avalokiteshvara (Goddess of Mercy). “Putuo” or “Puda” means a boat to ferry people from sufferings. “Cuo” or “Tso” in Tibetan refers to a lake; so Pudacuo together means “Boat Lake”. Pudacuo used to be the original Tibetan name for Bita Lake where we can see an isle called Mandala or Mantuluo. Pudacuo is an unearthly world without pollution, far away from the bustle and hustle world.
Pudacuo Park is mainly comprised of Shudu Lake, Militang Pasture and Bita Lake; the elevation there ranges from 3,500 meters to 4,000 meters above the sea level. As an inseparable part of the Three Parallel Rivers-a world natural heritage by UNESCO, Pudacuo Park also functions as a natural reserve. The eco environment is well preserved with marsh, lakes, virgin forests, brooks, springs, and rare fauna and flora resources. Summer scenes inside Pudacuo Park are so intoxicating that one will call it the home for meconopsis, primrose, rhododendron, spruce, fir, birch and other treasured plants. Lots of wild lives live in the park such as wild boar, musk deer, leopard, pheasant, and different species of birds.
Covering 15 square kilometers, Shudu Lake is 3,700 meters above the sea level. Shudu in Tibetan means cheese and stones. It’s said that when a Buddhist master visited this area, local Tibetans offered him cheese; he (the Buddhist master) saw stones in the ranch and wished the cattle of the farmers would be as strong as the stones.
One can trek along the planked path by Shudu Lake to enjoy the picturesque sceneries. Living in the limpid water of Shudu Lake are fish locally called “Liefuyu” (fish with cracks on their bellies). Furthermore, the lake is shallow enough to be called interestingly “a place where one can fish with a wooden stick”.
Militang Pasture is between Shudu Lake and Bita Lake. Militang is the vastest pastureland in Pudacuo Park. It’s dotted with yaks and cabbage-like grass (locally called Yak-butter Grass because the local Tibetans use the leaves to wrap yak butter). Militang in Tibetan means “the Buddha’s eye” because it presents an eye outline when overlooked.
Bita Lake is a fault lake lying in the heart of Pudacuo Park. Being 3 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, it exhibits an altitude of 3,530 meters and a biggest depth of 40 meters. Along the sightseeing planked passage ashore, growing are multitudes of centuries-old oak trees, spruces, firs with usneas on.
Bita Lake is the highlight of Pudacuo Park. Among the local Tibetans, Bita Lake is said to be incarnated from a piece of mirror of a fairy lady who broke her mirror when combing in the heaven. “Bita” in Tibetan also refers to a place where lots of oak trees are growing. In the centre of the lake, a small wooded island is made the shelter for many rare species of birds. If you are lucky enough to be in the non-windy day, the rosy clouds, the snow-capped mountains and the nearby forests are all mirrored in the lake.
Fish Drunk By Rhododendrons
Bita Lake abounds in fish resources. In each May, petals of the rhododendron flowers fall onto the lake and are mistakenly swallowed by the fish which then will be seen “floating” because the petals are toxic; the scene is the so-called “Dujuanzuiyu”-“fish drunk by rhododendron”.