To a Mountain in Tibet, By Colin Thubron


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The Independent Culture

The keenest-eyed, least self-absorbed, of literary travellers, Colin Thubron writes with a pin-point elegance and economy that directs your gaze to a place and its people, rather than to the author's foibles.

In this pilgrimage to the sacred Mount Kailas in the Himalayas, he certainly doesn't join the pack of vagabond narcissists. But his trip to Tibet brings progress inwards as well as upwards, for his mother has died and he makes this trek "on behalf of the dead".

His tales of seekers, refugees and mystics richly sketch the background of Tibetan history and Buddhist belief. Above all, his lean and supple prose draws meaning and moment from every encounter. "To the pilgrims, there are no mute stones" – and not to their ultra-observant companion.