Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/405

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TIBET

with pilgrims from China, Mongolia, India, and also parts of Tibet, all craving a moment's audience with the great Pontiff, that they may receive his blessing. Ten days on a swift horse would carry the traveller from Siliguri, at the foot of the Darjeeling hills, to Lhasa, a distance of 359 miles. The city stands on the bank of the river Kichu, about 20 miles from the Tsangpo, and is in extent only about half a mile square. Prettily situated amongst trees and surrounded by mountains, the chief and absorbing attraction is the Potala, the Dalai Lama's palace. This is a magnificent structure on a lofty summit overlooking the town. The great Lhokang, or idol temple, with its glittering cupolas, in the centre of the town, contains a huge image of Buddha. The population of Lhasa is roughly 20,000 priests, 7000 Tibetan laymen, of whom 5000 are women, and 3000 Chinese pupils, making a total of 30,000 persons. The climate is clear and salubrious.

A second Pope, the Teshu Lama, lives at Teshi-lunpo, the second town in Tibet, and situated about 150 miles to the west of Lhasa.

Since Manning's visit to Lhasa in 1811, and the French Fathers Hue and Gabet's stay of six weeks in 1845, many attempts have been made by European travellers to reach that city, the Russian general Prejvalski several times nearly succeeding. In 1892 Rockhill from Sining came within a week's journey of Lhasa, and in 1890 M. Bouvalot and Prince Henry of Orleans reached Tengrinot, 95 miles north from Kashmir. In 1891 Captain Bower from the same point came within 200 miles north-west of the city, and in 1893 Miss Annie Taylor from China got within twelve days of the capital. Dr. Sven Heldin has since then reached a spot 150 miles from the city. It was left, however, for the British expedition of 1904 to set before the eyes of the public by means of camera and pen the hidden treasures of this hitherto forbidden city.

The immediate cause of this expedition was the reception of information in November 1903 of the existence of a