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A fire that raged for nearly 10 hours today razed an ancient Tibetan town in southwest China that's popular with tourists, burning down hundreds of buildings as fire engines were unable to get onto the narrow streets, state media and witnesses said.

For all the tea in China: Discover a wild and charming rural idyll on a 1,000-year-old trade route

Row after row of neat bushes lined undulating hills. It could have been Tuscany, except for the hats. The conical straw headgear of the workers was a constant reminder that this was Asia. More specifically, we were in Xishuangbanna district, Yunnan province, at the start of a 1,000-year-old trade route that once linked southern China to Tibet, and beyond.

The Dalai Lama: A very earthly representative

For 60 years, the Dalai Lama has been a spiritual leader and an emblem of dispossession. He's also appeared in adverts, charmed celebrities and gained a million followers on Twitter. John Walsh charts the virtues and vices of a thoroughly modern monk

China unleashes tourism in latest invasion of Tibet

Wealthy tourists will soon be able to gaze out at the Roof of the World as a smartly dressed waiter expertly pours a glass of imported wine in the intimate setting of the Decanter bar of Tibet's first luxury hotel.

Pupils lead Tibet protests

Thousands of Tibetan schoolchildren have taken to the streets in western China to protest against being forced to take lessons in Mandarin Chinese, a move they say is an attempt to stifle their way of life.

Explorers in India find something almost unheard of: a new language

Researchers who had used bamboo rafts to ford surging rivers and climbed steep mountains in the remote north-east of India were rewarded for their toil with the discovery of a rich new language spoken by fewer than 1,000 people.

Pet of the Week: The Tibetan terrier

Who could this possibly be? The Tibetan terrier, a wise and friendly companion dog. For centuries he has been bred in the Himalayas as a general all-round utility hound for herdsmen and monks alike. Don't be fooled by the name – he is not a terrier at all. Rather, think of him as more of an Old English Sheepdog in stature.

The Dalai Lama at 75: the story so far, in pictures

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, originally named Tenzin Gyatso, turned 75 today. To celebrate, The Independent Online has rummaged through the archives to provide you with a glimpse of the story so far of the life of the 14th Dalai Lama.

Supporters cheer Dalai Lama on 75th birthday

The Dalai Lama celebrated his 75th birthday today with hundreds of cheering followers in Dharmsala, northern India, which has been his home since he fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

China takes softly-softly approach in effort to boost Tibet's economy

Hao Peng cuts an avuncular figure and is unusually frank for a party official in Tibet, where people rioted against Beijing rule two years ago. He is the new, approachable face that China wants to front its multibillion-yuan efforts to boost the isolated mountain enclave's economy and win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people.

Court jails Tibetan environmentalist

A leading Tibetan environmentalist and collector of antiquities has been jailed for 15 years for robbing graves.

Nine Lives, By William Dalrymple

Setting out his ambition for this, his compendium of spirituality in the subcontinent, William Dalrymple says he hopes to avoid the clichés of "Mystic India" that blight so much Western writing on Indian religions.

China arrests Tibetan writer critical of quake relief effort

A Tibetan writer who signed an open letter critical of the Chinese government's earthquake relief efforts in western Qinghai province has been detained by police, according to a family friend.

Two found alive after Chinese earthquake

A four-year-old girl and a Tibetan woman have been pulled alive from the rubble of an earthquake in western China more than five days after they were trapped.

China mourns as death toll tops 1,100

Tibetan monks prayed yesterday over hundreds of bodies at a makeshift mortuary next to their monastery after powerful earthquakes destroyed the remote mountain town of Jiegu in western China and left at least 1,144 people dead.

Google test offers peek at China net filters

Type "Falun Gong" in Chinese into Google's search engine from Beijing, and the Web browser suddenly becomes unresponsive for about a minute. Make the same search from Hong Kong, and you'll get plenty of links to the spiritual movement banned by the Chinese government.

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