Into Tibet: Trade and Illusions
Fraser Newham finds a connection running from the East India Company’s first mission to Tibet to the completion of the Golmud to Lhasa railway by the Chinese today.
It was the winter of 1774–75, and twenty-seven-year-old Scotsman George Bogle, trapped until spring at Tibet’s Tashilhunpo monastery some 14,000 feet above sea level, was having the time of his life. He was the first Briton to have visited the Panchen Lama’s court, and when he was not at his side discussing the world, he was hunting and feasting with the Lama’s nephews. At other moments, in the chambers of the Lama’s niece, there was even a suggestion of romance. ‘When I look on the time I have spent among the Hills,’ he wrote home to his sister Elizabeth, ‘it appears like a fairy dream.’
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