The Balagezom range criss-crosses at the north-eastern section of the Gyalthang plain along the Towang River - through the tale-laden Rongyul valley. The region on the bank of the Drichu (Yangtze) is home to the happy-go-lucky people of Kungzera, a former duchy.
Here, local craftsmen mix with reputed Towang (a region between Gyalthang and Chatreng) traders. The skilled craftsmen of the Rongyul valley produce some of the most exquisite wooden altars that adorn Tibetan homes.
The Tibetan women of Kungzera wear colorful pleated skirts resembling those worn in Yunnan's tropical south by the Dai and Bai. Traditionally, the Kungzera region has had strong matriarchic structures. A remnant may be that they often revel in song and dance through the night.
We head for the village of Gonjo, where the Towang River feeds into the Drichu. We begin our trek into the deep interior of Mt. Balagezom and discover Tibetan villages perched on cliffs. The men have, until recently, lived exclusively by hunting. The challenge is to complete the loop at Ngosho, one of the most beautiful gorge areas recently renamed "Shangrila Gorge".
With its dramatic terrain and ecology, Ngosho was a major hideout in the old days of communal conflict. Many legendary local personalities, such as the notorious Aku Lemu (Uncle Bald-Patch), a monk-turned-robber, to be canonized as a hero by the Dechen government, hailed from here.
Treks of various duration from two to seven days are possible at Balagezom.