Doris Duke was an interesting woman.  She was the only daughter of a really wealthy man, who died when she was 12. At 25, she began to inherit her father’s fortune, and used it to travel all over the world. She also did all sorts of philanthropic stuff, but it was her world travels that inspired Shangri-La.

Shangri-La is a house by Diamond Head on Oahu. It is a part of the Honolulu Museum of Art, and people can make reservations to take a guided tour of it.  Doris had the house built from scratch, in the style of the Islamic architecture she has seen in India, Iran, Egypt, and other parts of the middle east.  She decorated the home with artwork and tile, mosaics, and whatever else she could find, all from the Islamic world. She even outbid the Met to get one of only 6 luster mihrabs in the world, from the 1200s.

The tour itself starts at the Honolulu Museum of Art in Downtown Honolulu. The museum then shuttles the tour group to the house. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and thorough. The house is beautiful. The tilework, the furnishings, the master bedroom, everything was stunning.

IMG_1413We were not allowed to take photos inside the house.  But here are a couple of pictures of the outside.

IMG_1419 IMG_1420

The pool house played host to many a famous person.  Now it houses students and researchers who are studying the art in the house.

The garden was inspired by the pools at the Taj Mahal.


The view from the lanai (Hawaiian for balcony) was beautiful as well.


It was a fun tour, and somewhat inspirational to learn about Doris Duke.  She seemed to be a little more independent than was socially acceptable in her time.  She just didn’t care.  I won’t be inheriting a billion dollars anytime soon, but I can still be inspired by her independent spirit.


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