Shangri La (Doris Duke)

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Shangri La, exterior view.

Shangri La is the name of an Islamic-style mansion built by heiress Doris Duke near Diamond Head just outside Honolulu, Hawaii. It is now owned and operated by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA). Guided tours depart from the Honolulu Museum of Art, which operates the tours in co-operation with DDFIA.

Construction of Shangri La took place from 1936 to 1938,[1][2] after Doris Duke's 1935 honeymoon which took her through the Islamic world. For nearly 60 years afterwards, Miss Duke commissioned and collected artifacts for the house, forming a collection of about 2,500 objects. The house was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth. An artistic reflection of the construction of Shangri La can be found in Kiana Davenport's novel Song of the Exile.[3]

The house was opened to the public as a museum, the Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, in 2002.[4]

Shangri La collections and holdings[edit]

The Doris Duke estate, Shangri La, is furnished with art, furnishings and built-in architectural elements from Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Spain, Syria, Egypt and India. The Playhouse is a reduced-scale version of the 17th century Chehel Sotoun in Esfahan, Iran. It houses a central recreational room and two guest rooms. The outdoor landscaping blends the formality of an Indian Mughal garden and terraced water features with the intimacy of a private Hawaiian fishpond, tropical garden, and fabulous vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Gilt and painted ceilings from Morocco, vivid ceramics from Iran, intimate interiors from Syria, pierced metalwork and vibrant textiles from Spain to India are among the highlights.

Shangri La tour description[edit]

Tours of Shangri La originate at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and tickets must be reserved in advance.

Tours last about two and a-half hours, with one and a-half hours on site at Shangri La. Tours feature the public rooms of the main house and portions of the grounds including Entry Courtyard, Foyer, Damascus Room, Central Courtyard, Living Room, Upper Lawn with views of the Playhouse, pool, and water terraces, Syrian Room, Mughal Garden, Mihrab Room, Dining Room, and covered lānai.


Shangri La is situated on a 4.9-acre (20,000 m2) oceanfront lot in the exclusive Black Point residential neighborhood near Diamond Head, Hawaii. All tours to Shangri La begin and end at the Honolulu Museum of Art, which occupies 3.2 acres (13,000 m2) near downtown Honolulu.

Because Shangri La operates under the terms of a use permit from the City and County of Honolulu, visitor access is restricted. Visitors are not permitted to drive or park on-site at Shangri La or in the surrounding residential neighborhood.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ Margaret Bourke-White: Newly built estate, Shangri-la, belonging to American Tobacco Co. heiress Doris Duke and husband James Cromwell (Honolulu, 1937)
  3. ^ To build the house more than two hundred men had labored a year laying the foundation, excavating five acres of lava. [...] She named her fortress Wahi Pana, legendary place. Kiana Davenport: Song of the Exile. New York 2000, ISBN 0-345-43494-3, pp. 11-12
  4. ^ "Shangri La Timeline". Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 

Coordinates: 21°15′24″N 157°47′41″W / 21.25667°N 157.79472°W / 21.25667; -157.79472