To a Mountain in Tibet [Colin Thubron] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Colin Thubron is the intrepid, resourceful and immensely talented. There is a telling moment in one of Colin Thubron’s early films. He is travelling with a BBC crew along the Silk Road in China when he. Colin Thubron joins these pilgrims, after an arduous trek from Nepal, through the high passes of Tibet, to the magical lakes beneath the slopes.

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He is travelling with a BBC crew along the Silk Road in China when he professes that he is tired of filming and needs to be alone.

He turns aside and enters the desert for a moment of meditation; a moment that is recorded by the film crew, who are presumably still beside him. He is never garrulous and when he does reveal something about himself, the reader feels that these are confidences hard won.

To a Mountain in Tibet is one of his most personal books. He sets off towards Mount Kailas, the mystical peak in Tibet close to the borders with Nepal and India.

To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron – review

For centuries, Hindus, Buddhists and their predecessors, the Bon, have worshipped this mountain, which lies remarkably close to the sources of all four major rivers of the subcontinent: Emerging abruptly from the flat western Tibetan plateau, over 1, miles from Lhasa, it is an iconic mountain of spiritual purity.

No one has ever climbed it — although Reinhold Messner made an attempt in the Eighties but was frustrated by Chinese intransigence.


Instead, the devotees who come here circle around the mountain in what must be one of the toughest pilgrimages in the world, crossing a pass at 18,ft and often enduring severe altitude sickness. Those who come from lowland southern India are often the worst affected, sold cheap trekking tickets by unscrupulous tour operators who make no attempt to give them the time to acclimatise properly. Thubron has a moving passage in which he describes meeting a group of these frustrated Hindu pilgrims turning back in disappointment and despair from their failed attempt.

A few monasteries still survive after the Cultural Revolution; the Chinese now allow a limited number of pilgrims access to the mountain, but by no means make it easy.

Thubron is also the perfect guide to the complexities of Tibetan Buddhism and is honest enough to admit that its elaborate numerology and pantheon of demons can baffle the spiritual seeker from the West. Like Robert Byron in the Thirties, who complained about the dirt and autocracy of Tibetan monasteries long before the Chinese invasion made such criticism less politically correct, Thubron is thubroon about the conditions he finds: His own sympathy for solitude means he is well suited to meet the monks and isolated farmers who live in the valleys on the high approaches to Kailas.

He draws them out with tact: Much of the history of Kailas has already been told by Charles Allen in his pioneering A Mountain in Tibetwhose title Thubron echoes. What this book adds is a vivid sense of what it is actually like to be a pilgrim on the route — a journey that Thubron characteristically makes mainly on his own.


To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron

Thubron is now in his seventies and undertakes this arduous trek in a quintessentially English way, with few complaints and much tolerant good humour. This is above all a story in which the author movingly reveals his reasons — indeed his need — to make the pilgrimage after deaths in his family have left him the only surviving member.

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To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron – review | Books | The Guardian

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