Humanities › History & Culture Where Is Shambhala? Share Flipboard Email Print Shambhala is a Buddhist paradise, the Pure Land. Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Getty Images History & Culture Asian History East Asia Basics Figures & Events Southeast Asia South Asia Middle East Central Asia Asian Wars and Battles American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kallie Szczepanski History Expert Ph.D., History, Boston University J.D., University of Washington School of Law B.A., History, Western Washington University Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. She has taught at the high school and university levels in the U.S. and South Korea. our editorial process Kallie Szczepanski Updated February 23, 2019 Shambhala (pronounced sham-bah-lah, sometimes spelled "Shambala" and "Shamballa") is a mythical Buddhist kingdom that is said to exist somewhere between the Himalaya Mountains and the Gobi Desert. In Shambhala, all of the citizens have achieved enlightenment, so it is the embodiment of Tibetan Buddhist perfection. That is the reason for one of its other names: The Pure Land. It is also known as Olmolungring, Shangri-La, Paradise, and Eden. Example: "It takes a powerful ancient myth to appeal to both Nazis and hippies, but the story of Shambhala, the Pure Land, manages to accomplish this feat." Origin and Where It Is The name "Shambhala" derives from Sanskrit texts, and is thought to mean "place of tranquility." The myth of Shambhala first appears in early Kalachakra Buddhist texts, which specify that its capital is named Kalapa and that the rulers are from the Kalki Dynasty. Many scholars believe that the myth derives from folk memories of an actual kingdom, somewhere in the mountains of South or Central Asia. One aspect of the Shambhala myth is its millennial overtones. According to the Sanskrit texts, the world will descend into darkness and chaos around the year 2400 CE, but the twenty-fifth Kalki king will arise in a messianic fashion to defeat the forces of darkness and lead the world into a period of peace and light. Interestingly, ancient pre-Buddhist texts that describe the lost kingdom of Zhang Zhung, in western Tibet, have been corroborated by archaeological finds in the the borderlands between Tibet and Pakistan's portion of Kashmir. Those same texts assert that Shambhala, the land of tranquility, was located in what is now the Sutlej Valley in Pakistan. Western Views and Versions An amazing number and variety of western observers have drawn upon the myth of Shambhala to inform their own worldviews, beliefs, or art. These include James Hilton, who likely named his Himalayan paradise "Shangri-La" in the book Lost Horizon as a nod to the Shambhala story. Other westerners ranging from German Nazis to the Russian psychic Madame Blavatsky have shown a real fascination with this lost kingdom. Of course, the 1973 hit song "Shambala" by Three Dog Night also celebrates this Buddhist (or even pre-Buddhist) land. It includes lyrics that celebrate the peace and love in the region, but also its ultimately "just out of reach" nature: Wash away my troubles, wash away my painWith the rain in ShambalaWash away my sorrow, wash away my shameWith the rain in Shambala...Everyone is lucky, everyone is kindOn the road to ShambalaEveryone is happy, everyone is so kindOn the road to Shambala...How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?