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Lake Manazowar, Tibet: The storm-swept lake is also profoundly sacred in their eyes. The mountain rises abruptly from the trackless plain not far from the frontier. There is nothing but bleak, height-bordered wilderness for hundreds of miles in every other direction, with only an occasional hill-perched Buddhist monastery or temporary tent-village to relieve it as it broods unchanged over this snowy fastness, and civilization is still absent.

Here is a region which has always been shrouded in mystery, which remains even in this twentieth century aloof, like a hermit among the world's places. The ground everywhere is hard and frozen; keen and violent winds descend into the glaciers and cut relentlessly across their surfaces. The climatic rigours of excessive cold and piled snow render it nearly inaccessible to the traveller for nearly three-fourths of the year. I have lived at various points along the Indo-Tibetan border and sampled a mite of the atmosphere which surrounds the Himalayan region. Dizzy heights and rugged precipices topped by the continuous snowy line of Himalaya meet one's gaze everywhere.

One might walk on foot or ride on horseback along the thread-like trails for miles without meeting a soul. Silence rules all day like a sovereign, until the afternoon thunder growls across the ridges and valleys and pinnacles of the mountains like the detonation of a high explosive. Most evenings are heralded by lightning.


-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 3: China, Japan, Tibet > # 186






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