GHW felt [he'd say "knew"] that there were parts of the lives and writings of Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, Ossendowski, Hedin, and others which could illuminate the way. One of those who most intrigued him was Nicholas Roerich. Roerich was a Man-of-Peace and a "mystical painter" [one of his many striking paintings is above], who was also a far traveler. Roerich believed in the possibility of a future Utopia and the existence of one in the past, and perhaps still hidden in the present. He believed in the veracity of visions, particularly those arising through Art. And, he believed in Shangri-la, or at least some remnant of it, in the mountains of Central Asia.
There are lots of reasons for this faith in Roerich's [in many ways, beautiful] life . I am not expert enough to capsulize them. One thing relevant to our topic is represented by the picture on the left. It is Roerich holding a small casket within which is a piece of a "Stone from Heaven" which allegedly came to Earth thousands of years ago falling in Tibet. It was one of four such relics held as sacred in Buddhism. It was a magical charmstone which had the properties of the western "Philosopher's Stone" which could grant wishes, cure illness, bring enlightenment. Sometime in the distant past, it was "chipped" to make a ringstone for a king. Other pieces were saved. Roerich's box allegedly contained one of those.
The stone, Roerich felt, was similar to Moldavite in make-up. Moldavite itself is a bit of a mystery. Minerals classified as Moldavite are "glassy" and dark green [like the Cintamani stone; the sacred stone's name], and are considered one of the "tektites". These minerals have an uncertain past. Geology generally considers them to be the melt-products of the smashing of a meteorite into the right sorts of Earth minerals, heating them up and glassifying them. So in a real way, all tektites might be considered as stones from Heaven, and Moldavite a "Gemstone from Heaven" as you see above middle. Whether that's how King Lha Thothori Nyantsen got his, we don't know. Roerich believed that he had a fragment of the original much larger stone and wished to return his piece to the motherstone. That motherstone, he believed was in Shamballa.
Parts of Roerich's Asian journeys were inspired by this desire to get to Shamballa, a mountain "country" in central Asia. He apparently did not make it, but did find what he supposed was a remaining monastic outpost of Shamballa, where he left his stone with the monks, so that they would return it the rest of the way. There in the [partly underground] kingdom of Shamballa, the elder keepers of wisdom would utilize the powers of the stone to accomplish good---good both within their realm and beyond into our violence-racked world. In this, Roerich was echoing not only the belief in Shamballa but in the central Asian location of the Underworld Realm of Agharti and the benevolent King of the World. All this of course excited GHW.
GHW further became enthused because he believed that the Polish traveler and writer A. Ferdynand Ossendowski had also received accurate intelligence about Shamballa. Ossendowski was just as much embroiled in Russo-Siberian war as Roerich had been in peace. He spent much time wandering in central Asia and the Gobi desert and in the service of world-class crazy person Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg [who was however a dangerous military commander]. In about the years 1920-1921, Ossendowski met several persons in the Gobi area who gave him bits of alleged facts about the underworld kingdom of Agharti and its King of the World. GHW interpreted this as related directly to both Shangri-la and to the legends of Atlantis and Lemuria.
Ossendowski was told that this kingdom originated 60,000 years ago when a holyman led followers into the underworld. There they have stayed to this day, though some few have visited and some few have remained. Its population now numbers in the millions. One informant told him that these people originated from two large islands once in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Supposedly no one [at least no one "around here at the time" --- i.e. the places which Ossendowski was visiting] knew where the entrance to the kingdom could be found. Another informant, however, said that the kingdom was worldwide, connected by tunnel systems from Asia all the way to the Americas. Down there the King of the World sat [probably with the sacred Cintamani Stone from Heaven] and with the wisdom of the Buddha assessed the condition of Mankind and decided whether to act to alter matters.
As an aside, while camping in the Gobi, a Mongol guide told Ossendowski to be silent and listen. "Did you see how our camels moved their ears in fear? How the herd of horses on the plain stood fixed in attention and how the herds of sheep and cattle lay crouched close to the ground? Did you notice that the birds did not fly, the marmots did not run and the dogs did not bark? The air trembled softly and bore from afar the music of a song which penetrated to the hearts of men, animals and birds alike. Earth and sky ceased breathing. The wind did not blow and the Sun did not move. At such a moment the wolf that is stealing up on the sheep arrests his stealthy crawl; the frightened herd of antelopes suddenly checks its wild course; the knife of the shepherd cutting the sheep's throat falls from his hand; the rapacious ermine ceases to stalk the unsuspecting salga. All living beings in fear are involuntarily thrown into prayer and waiting their fate. So it was just now. This it has always been whenever the King of the World in his subterranean palace prays and searches out the destiny of all peoples on the Earth."
The quote is interesting in many ways, but I include it here as a unique form of describing the quality encountered in many UFO cases called the OZ Effect. Make of that what you will.
Now utterly fired up for the quest, GHW decided to decipher the exact location of Shangri-la. Because he, for no good reason known to me, believed that James Hilton knew exactly what HE was talking about when he wrote Lost Horizon, it was to the novel he went for his answer. And of course, being George Hunt Williamson, he found it.
Through the text GHW "learned" that the likely location of Shangri-la, central Asian variety, began with the silk road city of Kashgar in far northwestern China, or "Chinese Turkestan". This is a shot of Kashgar with towering mountains behind it--- not a bad setting with which to begin. One then needed to take the road to another of the old silk road [alternative] cities, Yarkand, to the southeast. If you drew a line between Kashgar and Yarkand and used their endpoints as the corners of a [rough] equilateral triangle, pointing sort-of westward, the third position in the triangle was the approximate location of Shangri-la.
Well, my intrepid explorers, here is your Google travel map. Note the positions of the two silk road towns and then note the distinctive Google teardrop marker forming the triangle to the WSW. That teardrop marks the mountain Muztagh-ata, the domed snow-capped "signature" mountain for a whole range of peaks. GHW says: "Muztagh-ata rears its dome above its surroundings, is crowned with a shimmering field of eternal snow, it is a beacon, visible from the interiors of the great deserts to the east [Takla-makan], it towers above to about 26000 feet. The shape of the great dome fits Conway's [Hilton's lead character in the book] description of the great cone-shaped mountain of which he said there was a legend". In the book the mountain overlooks the "Valley of the Blue Moon", or KARAKAL. Muztagh-ata overlooks a lake called KARA-KUL. Well, that is all it takes for GHW. He's sure that he knows where Shangri-la is.
So, why didn't he go?? When he was young, he was busy with one mind-boggling adventure after another. When he wrote the notes I'm working from, he was old and ill and though as feisty as you get, wasn't up to more adventuring. But there's nothing stopping YOU, is there?? Renew that passport! Take a plane to Beijing and on to Ulan Bator and a Landrover to Kashgar and beyond. I mean, Shangri-la!! Where Yak butter tea replaces soda pop, and spitted mutton takes the place of Big Macs. And if you get dysentary there's always the Cintamani Stone to put a stop to that. You could use the quiet meditation time to regain your sanity from this crazy world, admit it.