The Last Time I saw Tibet

The Last Time I saw Tibet

Product ID: 22061

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Author: Bimal Dey
Translator(s)/ Edito: Malobika Chaudhuri
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 336
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143101242


Bitten by wanderlust at a young age, Bimal Dey has travelled the world, including the Arctic and Antarctica. But it’s his journey across Tibet, from Gangtok to Lhasa and Mansarovar when he was a teenager, that holds a special place in his heart. The Last Time I Saw Tibet recounts his adventures during this trip in 1956: a time when Sikkim was not yet part of India, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama still ruled in Tibet although Chinese presence was marked, and Indians were not banned from travelling there.

Ordained as a Buddhist monk by his Guruji just before the start of the journey (only lamas can stay in monasteries), posing as one who had taken a vow of silence (he did not know enough Tibetan to convince the Chinese authorities), Dey trekked across the Nathu La pass, Chumbi valley and the Sangpo river along with an intrepid band of lamas, before reaching Lhasa, or Hla-Sa (‘abode of the gods’), many months later.

He visited the Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka, the summer palace, was witness to the grandeur of the Potala royal palace where the Dalai Lama resided, and even had an audience with His Holiness. From Lhasa, the author trekked on his own to Kailashnath and Mansarovar, the holiest of pilgrimages for any Hindu. During his journey, he encountered the deep generosity of the local people, made friends among ascetics and mendicants, and the awe-inspiring majesty of the Himalayas brought with it a true understanding of spirituality and faith.

Many years later, in the eighties, the author would have the privilege of visiting Mansarovar twice, but he always hankered to travel alone across Tibet, a wish that was eventually granted by the Chinese authorities only at the cusp of the new millennium. This time he saw the ravages of the Chinese occupation in Lhasa, a slow decimation of the Tibetan culture across the countryside, which convinced him that ever more visitors is one way of keeping alive Tibet and its rich and unique traditions.


Malobika Chaudhuri runs Mono Translation Bureau, a multilingual translation agency, in Kolkata. She has translated several novels of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay for Penguin.


Preface to This Edition
Preface to the Original Edition

A Farewell to My Roots
On the Way
A Tibetan Family
The City Of Yatung and Dungkar Gumpha
A Nocturnal Journey
Kiangphu Gumpha
To Gyaste
On the Eternal Pilgrimage
The Pilgrims’ First Offering
Meditation on the Arya Tara
From Gyatse to Samding Gumpha
The Dorje Pamo
The Language
My First Glimpse of the Sangpo
The Chaksam Gumpha
On the Threshold
The Drepung Gumpha
Lamas and Learning
A Tibetan Lake: History and Faith
Lhasa and Jokhang, the Core Temple
Potala, the Royal Palace
Lama Lamdup
Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace
The Dalai Lama
Lhasa: The Last Days
Gearing Up for Kailashnath
In Search of Route to Kailash
The Exorcist of Sangpo
A Night of Terror
Strangers Become Friends
The Panchen Lama
On the Way to Kailash
The Sage of Pasaguk
At the End of My Tether
A Few More Steps To Heaven
Heaven, at Last
My first Night at Mansarovar
Kailash Baba
Tibet’s Eternal Flame: Milarepa

Afterword: Lhasa Once More in the New Millennium