The area around ErHai lake has been the home of the Bai people for over 4000 years.
The former Nanzhao Kingdom was established in 738 with Dali as its capital. Following 200 years of prosperity the kingdom collapsed and the area turned to chaos. In 937 Duan Siping established the Kingdom of Dali which became one of the 13 largest cities in the world less than a century later. The kingdom survived under the control of the Duan clan until 1253 when it was conquered by the Mongolian Empire.
Buddhism was introduced to China through Yunnan. Despite opposition from powerful dynasties the construction of Buddhist temples and pagodas was widespread, and the area is regarded as essential to the spread of Buddhism throughout China.
The ancient walled city was built in 1382 during the Ming Dynasty period, and has remained central to Bai life ever since, despite losing most of its regional political, cultural, and economic power to the provincial capital of Kunming.
Between 1856 and 1872 Dali served as the center of Du Wenxiu’s Panthay Rebellion, which began as an uprising against local oppression by the Hui minority and ended as open warfare against the ruling Qing Dynasty. The rebellion was ultimately crushed and hundreds of thousands were killed as a result.
Today, Dali is a thriving tourism town where the ancient traditions of Bai culture and historical sites mix with a modern artistic feel to create a destination unlike any other in China.