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Item #: OP1758A-765
A JOURNEY TO LHASA AND CENTRAL TIBET Sarat Chandra Das 1998 New Paperback
By Das, Sarat Chandra
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India, Book Faith India, 1998. 235 pp. New Paperback.

The author, a famous Bengali pandit (scholar) and explorer, tells the tale of his undercover journey from Darjeeling to Shigatse and Lhasa, returning through northeastern Nepal, in 1882. 'Faced with Tibetan opposition to European travel in Tibet, the British authorities in India in the late 19th century hit upon the idea of using Indian spies to survey and map the country. Although some of the men chosen turned out to be unsatisfactory, many of the Indian pandits' expeditions turned out to be very successful and their observations and measurements (recorded clandestinely and smuggled back into India) were later shown to be surprisingly accurate considering the circumstances in which they were taken.

"Sarat Chandra Das was the most famous and the most successful of the pandits, and this book records his journey into Tibet in 188182." - John Pinfold, Tibet (Clio Press). 

Sarat Chandra Das was among the greatest pioneers of explorer and discoverer who ever entered Tibet. Born in 1849, in Eastern Bengal, in a Hindu family of the vaidya, he received his education from the Presidency College at Calcutta, where he became favourably known to Sir Alfred Croft, who ever since has been his friend and guide in his geographical and literary work, and by whose representations to the Indian Government it became possible for him to perform his important journeys into Tibet.

Mr. Das made his first journey into Tibet in 1879 at the invitation of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. His second journey was made in the late 1881. In both the journey, Lama Ugyen Gyatso, a Tibetan lama from Sikkim and connected with the reigning family of the State, acted as his guide and companion. In his journeys to Tibet, beginning with Tashi Lhunpo, a great centre of learning, Sarat Chandra Das explored the valley of Yarlung, where Tibetan civilisation is said to have first made its appearance.

The report of his journeys were printed in two separate publications by order of the Government of Bengal. They are entitled 'Narrative of a Journey to Lhasa', and 'Narrative of a Journey Round Lake Yamdok, and in Lhokha, Yarlung, and Sakya'. For various reasons these reports were kept as strictly confidential documents by the Indian Government until about 1890. The amount of literary work accomplished by Sarat Chandra Das since his return from Tibet in 1883 is enormous.

He brought back with him over two hundred volumes, manuscripts or block-prints, obtained from the great libraries in Tibet, a number of them in Sanskrit, and for past many centuries lost in India. For his achievements, he was awarded the title of Rai Bahadur by the Government of India and in 1887 the Royal Geographical Society awarded him the 'Back Premium' for his geographical researches.


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