My Life in Forbidden Lhasa - National Geographic Magazine: "Escaping from internment in India to the sacred capital of Tibet, an Austrian became the Dalai Lama's trusted tutor
(Originally published in the July 1955 National Geographic)
By Heinrich Harrer
Photograph by Heinrich Harrer

The rocky trail led into the broad valley of the Kyi River. Exhausted, our shoes in tatters and our feet bleeding and blistered, we rounded a little hill. Before us lay the Potala, winter palace of Tibet's Dalai Lama, its golden roofs ablaze in the January sun.

Lhasa was only eight miles away!"

So begins the tale of an incredible adventure in Tibet, before the Chinese invaded.

This must have been the basis of the movie Seven Years in Tibet. The two adventurers soon become involved in the life of the young Dalai Lama.

A sensitive insight into life in Tibet before the Chinese.

I highly recommend it.

René O'Deay


Thanks Rene for recommending the Harrer story! I work at National Geographic and it's exciting for us to see that people are discovering this story on our website and enjoying it, even though it was originally published 53 years ago. We republished it as an online exclusive, and not in the special China edition of National Geographic that's out on newsstands now which has additional content and photos that we don't have online.

And you're right, Harrer's adventure DID inspire the movie "Seven Years in Tibet," but I think you're the first person who noticed it!

May 4, 2008 at 9:55 PM  

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