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Editor’s Note

“A Tibetan Adventure...”

The intrepid Thubron embarks on a profound & dangerous trek to a most sacred peak, in search of something other than the dead’s eternal silence.
Alex K.
Scribd Editor

This is the account of a journey to the holiest mountain on earth, the solitary peak of Kailas in Tibet, sacred to one-fifth of humankind. To both Buddhists and Hindus it is the mystic heart of the world and an ancient site of pilgrimage. It has never been climbed. Even today, under Chinese domination, the people of four religions circle the mountain in devotion to different gods.

Colin Thubron reached it by foot along the Karnali River, the highest source of the Ganges. His journey is an entry into the culture of today's Tibet, and a pilgrimage in the wake his mother's death and the loss of his family. He undertakes it in order to mark the event, to leave a sign of their passage. He also explores his own need for solitude, which has shaped his career as a writer—one who travels to places beyond his own history and culture, writing about them and about the journey. To a Mountain in Tibet is at once a powerful travelogue, a fascinated encounter with alien faith, and an intimate personal voyage.

It is a haunting and beautiful book, a rare mix of discovery and loss. In its evocation of landscape and variety of exotic peoples, of mythic and spiritual traditions foreign to our own, it is a spectacular achievement from our greatest living travel writer, an artist of formidable literary gifts, uncanny intuition, and wondrous insight.

Topics: Spirituality , Hinduism, Buddhism, Grief, Mothers, Adventurous, Heartfelt, Journeys, Asian History, Tibet, Nepal, and Travelogue

Published: HarperCollins on Mar 1, 2011
ISBN: 9780062066053
List price: $11.79
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In this relatively short (218 page) book, travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron recounts a trek from Nepal to Tibet, where he ultimately circles Mount Kailas, a holy mountain sought by Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Bon pilgrims. His journey is fairly short, and far from epic, but he observes and describes the landscape and people he meets with such care, that the story expands and commands attention. The trip is also as much an internal as an external pilgrimage; Thubron took this trip some months after losing his mother, his last immediate relative. So the story is also the work of a mature author meditating on grief and on the impermanence of all we love, including ourselves. The author's struggle both grounds the information he shares about the historical and cultural meanings of Mt. Kailas -- over and over, stations on the pilgrimage around the mountain are meant to reinforce the pilgrim's awareness of his or her impermanence -- and also creates a tension that drives the book, since Thubron, as a skeptical Westerner, cannot hope for the cosmic salvation experienced by the real pilgrims traveling alongside him. And yet, the journey, at least as he recounts it here, does offer a kind of resolution. Overall, it is a beautiful, respectful, and sober book.read more
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A lyrical book and wonderfully written travel narrative on at least two levels – the actual journey, a hike through Nepal to the ancient sacred regions of Tibet, and a healing of the author’s grief and loss of his parents and sister.This edition too is beautiful, a Harper Collins hardback with hand-cut leaves – a pleasure to hold and own. The jacket shows the river-valley path winding through the trees, rocks and mist with the Kailas mountain’s snowy crags looming above. This mount is sacred to nearly a quarter of the world’s population and the ceremonial and grueling circle around the base is conducted by believers of four different religions. Of course, as you would expect with any religion, the adherents worship different deities and encircle the mount from different directions!We are led back into the historic, near mythical country of Tibet, and back too into the lands of thousand mile gods with five heads and countless reincarnations, a region of confused interweaving of Buddhist and Hindu peoples leavened with Chinese Maoists and the ruins of their occupation. Thubron notes the confusion of the actual identity of Tibet, the Westernized view of its sacredness, the Dalai Lama's celebrity status and the subsequent cultish beliefs of mysticism that contrast and contradict the actual history of this war-loving land, with its serfdom of peasants and the feudal over-lording by armed and armored monks. The author conducts his own peaceful and respectful pilgrimage and this delightful book allows the reader to walk beside him in his healing circuit.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is my second book by Thubron and, for the second time, I have to say that I’m not wild about his writing. What is it that you don’t like? you might ask. And I can’t put my finger on it. This is the kind of book I should like; I adore travel narratives. But once again I was not wowed by Thubron. I’m sure it is just me. I stuck with him all the way to the mountain, as Thubron described the scenery and the people and the culture. But nothing touched me emotionally. I really wish I could figure out why Thubron is not for me.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

In this relatively short (218 page) book, travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron recounts a trek from Nepal to Tibet, where he ultimately circles Mount Kailas, a holy mountain sought by Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Bon pilgrims. His journey is fairly short, and far from epic, but he observes and describes the landscape and people he meets with such care, that the story expands and commands attention. The trip is also as much an internal as an external pilgrimage; Thubron took this trip some months after losing his mother, his last immediate relative. So the story is also the work of a mature author meditating on grief and on the impermanence of all we love, including ourselves. The author's struggle both grounds the information he shares about the historical and cultural meanings of Mt. Kailas -- over and over, stations on the pilgrimage around the mountain are meant to reinforce the pilgrim's awareness of his or her impermanence -- and also creates a tension that drives the book, since Thubron, as a skeptical Westerner, cannot hope for the cosmic salvation experienced by the real pilgrims traveling alongside him. And yet, the journey, at least as he recounts it here, does offer a kind of resolution. Overall, it is a beautiful, respectful, and sober book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A lyrical book and wonderfully written travel narrative on at least two levels – the actual journey, a hike through Nepal to the ancient sacred regions of Tibet, and a healing of the author’s grief and loss of his parents and sister.This edition too is beautiful, a Harper Collins hardback with hand-cut leaves – a pleasure to hold and own. The jacket shows the river-valley path winding through the trees, rocks and mist with the Kailas mountain’s snowy crags looming above. This mount is sacred to nearly a quarter of the world’s population and the ceremonial and grueling circle around the base is conducted by believers of four different religions. Of course, as you would expect with any religion, the adherents worship different deities and encircle the mount from different directions!We are led back into the historic, near mythical country of Tibet, and back too into the lands of thousand mile gods with five heads and countless reincarnations, a region of confused interweaving of Buddhist and Hindu peoples leavened with Chinese Maoists and the ruins of their occupation. Thubron notes the confusion of the actual identity of Tibet, the Westernized view of its sacredness, the Dalai Lama's celebrity status and the subsequent cultish beliefs of mysticism that contrast and contradict the actual history of this war-loving land, with its serfdom of peasants and the feudal over-lording by armed and armored monks. The author conducts his own peaceful and respectful pilgrimage and this delightful book allows the reader to walk beside him in his healing circuit.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is my second book by Thubron and, for the second time, I have to say that I’m not wild about his writing. What is it that you don’t like? you might ask. And I can’t put my finger on it. This is the kind of book I should like; I adore travel narratives. But once again I was not wowed by Thubron. I’m sure it is just me. I stuck with him all the way to the mountain, as Thubron described the scenery and the people and the culture. But nothing touched me emotionally. I really wish I could figure out why Thubron is not for me.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm reading this for the second time, much more slowly than my first go at it, and finding it very rewarding. I'll rate it with stars when this second reading is complete, but it's very powerful, very personal, and goes way beyond traditional travel writing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Ok-ish book. I was expecting more - failed to inspire!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The author trekked to Mt Kailas, a holy mountain in western Tibet near the borders with Nepal and India. Pilgrims go there regularly to walk in a circle around the mountain. It is holy to Buddhists, Hindus and others also. It is a difficult route. It starts at high altitude and climbs even higher during the circling. There are numerous religiously significant locations on the mountain, and the author describes all of these from the true believers' perspective. Thurbon trekked with a cook and porter through Nepal to the Tibet border. He lodged with locals along the way. Once he crosses into China, there is a road that he could take by vehicle to the base of the mountain.In addition to describing the sights along his route, he describes the people he meets and their lives as he sees them. He also gives some history of the region and its religions, and some description of Tibetan Buddhism. And, he also relates some of his personal story, his parents both died recently, which motivated him to make this journey.
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