Tibet’s Secret Kingdom

Tibet's Secret Kingdom

This is a very interesting story about two adventurers and their visits to Tibet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the Indian cartographer Nain Singh and the British explorer Francis Edward Younghusband.

At the beginning of the 19th century the Dalai Lama ordered the borders of Tibet closed to foreigners which prevented access by the rising powers, especially of the British empire to the south in India, and Russia in the west.

Closing the country, although it was successful in isolating the kingdom, however, also had the effect of making it more attractive to those who could not gain access, and in the Great Game that was being played out in the late 19th century knowledge it became a prize for which people staked their lives.

The British as part of their geographical surveys wanted to map the country and find out the exact position of its major cities. The young Indian teacher Nain Singh trained in cartography and he made his way to Lhasa and exactly positioned the city on the map and the trade route along which he went, and became one of the most famed spies in history.

Younghusband is best remembered for the bloody massacre of poorly armed Tibetans when he led a large expedition to Tibet in 1904. The slaughter and a subsequent revelation as he was leaving Lhasa transformed him into a spiritualist and the founder of the World Congress of Faiths.

This film tells, in short, their stories, and the story of the opening of Tibet to the outside world after a period of reclusion. It is also interesting to note that it doesn’t appear anyone was conscious that Tibet was supposedly a part of China at that time, which would have complicated the invasion considerably.

 

 

to see a set of stills click on the screenshot below

 

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