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About The Book
In 1874, the brilliant civil engineer Sarat Chandra Das was recruited by the Britishas a spy in Darjeeling. The Empire wanted to train local agents to gather in-depthintelligence about Tibet-a mysterious kingdom closed off to all outsiders for years-in order to consolidate their position in South Asia and outplay Russia in the GreatGame.Equipped with hidden compasses, hundred-bead rosaries (to discreetly measuredistances), and an excellent knowledge of Buddhism and the local language, Das setout into the harsh early winter of 1881, through the snow-filled passes of Sikkim andNepal on his second foray into Tibet.Though an agent of its enemy, Das fell in love with the land of his mission. He stayedat the Tashilhunpo monastery for five months transcribing ancient Buddhist texts,studying the language and teaching English to the Panchen Lama. In his diary, he notedthe various customs of dress, cuisine, architecture and the local politics throughout hisjourney. He also wrote about ordinary village life as he saw it-the extortion of thecommon people by the Chinese, and the ravages of smallpox in places with little or nomedical help.When he finally reached Lhasa, he was struck by the grandeur of the city s ancientshrines and the monasteries dotting its mountains. He even managed an audience withthe thirteenth Dalai Lama, then an eight-year-old boy with rosy cheeks .Journey to Lhasa is the account of a treacherous yet illuminating adventure, whichpaints an intimate portrait of a people and a place that today exist only in memory.