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To a Mountain in Tibet

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  1,510 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
“Colin Thubron is the intrepid, resourceful and immensely talented writer who has made a career out of going to out of the way places and then writing brilliantly about them.”—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World 

“Thanks to Thubron, we encounter a world which, in its beauty and awe, exceeds our imagination." —Ryszard Kapuscinski, author of Shah of Shahs and Imperiu
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Harper Perennial (first published 2011)
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Will Byrnes
To a Mountain in Tibet tells two stories. One is the great travel writer’s observations along his trek to a significant physical and religious site. The other is his inner journey of coming to terms with the death of his mother, whose passing prompted this adventure. The sights, smells and sounds of this arduous walk into a remote, mountainous retreat capture his senses. But it is the local culture and sundry religious views of death that capture his imagination as he treks to the holiest mounta ...more
I was looking forward to this book as I love things relating to the Tibetan culture. I did very much enjoy the beginning of this novel. but the middle and end brought out my frustration as I continued to feel the very soul of this novel ebb away. I understood that Mr Thubron is basically a travel writing author, but it was so cold (not only climate wise) as he related the various trials, tribulations, and god/goddesses/monsters and beliefs of these people. It felt it more like a litany of rambli ...more
Joshua Buhs

It is a short book about three intertwined mysteries: the mysteries of culture, of death, and of human personality. It offers no easy answers--no answers at all, really. It is a pilgrimage finished, but unfulfilled.

Thubron is a famed travel writer, and he left to visit Mt. Kailas shortly after his mother died. He was, at the time, in his late 60s, and the only surviving member of his family, having seen his father, sister, and mother all pass. Kailas is one of the holiest mountains in
Kim G
Mar 29, 2011 Kim G rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I'm still trying to figure out what I got out of this book. The Tibetan facts/history were not effectively organized, I didn't get to know any interesting characters, and although this book is billed as a sort of elegy for the author's deceased family, other than a few pages on the father's travels and spare paragraphs here and there during the latter half in the book revealing what happened to his sister, they're ultimately non-entities.

I have a feeling a month from now I won't remember much ab
Nov 16, 2016 Linh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hành trình tới núi thiêng Kailash, Tây Tạng của một nhà văn người Anh, người có lẽ là một trong những nhà văn viết du ký nổi tiếng nhất hiện nay (và được tạp chí Times xem là 1 trong 50 nhà văn Anh quốc lớn nhất từ sau năm 1945). Xen kẽ cáu chuyện về hành trình của ông và gặp gỡ những người dân Nepal và Tây Tạng là những hồi ức của ông về những người thân đã mất: người cha từng là sỹ quan trong đế chế Anh, người mẹ mà việc bà qua đời dường như là lý do chính thúc đẩy chuyến đi này, và ký ức phản ...more
Eveline Chao
Mar 14, 2011 Eveline Chao rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this writer is known for his beautiful writing, and there was no question that he has a formidable command of language, but i actually found all the poetic words distracting. like it was hard to keep focused on what was happening through the ten million ways of beautifully describing a rock or stream or cloud. there were also a lot of things "gently" verbing, and nothing could ever just straightforwardly sit, walk, look, run, but instead everything had to do all these things using some sort of u ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(FROM MY BLOG) To the north, beyond the main range of the Himalayas, emerging from the Tibetan plateau, stands an isolated peak called Kailas. Although only 22,028 feet high, quite low by Himalayan standards, no climber has ever stood on its summit (except, apocryphally, a mystic in ancient times). It may never be climbed.

Kailas is a holy mountain to a number of religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism.

To Hindus, Kailas is identified as the earthly manifestation of the mystical mountain Meru.
Mar 06, 2017 Benny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colin Thubron is een oude reiziger. Samen met Paul Theroux bracht hij me, toen ik nog jonger was, niet alleen reis- maar ook letterkriebels. Shadow of the Silk Road, In Siberia, Behind the Wall, Among the Russians…het zijn allemaal klassiekers van de reisliteratuur wat mij betreft.

Hoewel Naar een Berg in Tibet als zijn meest persoonlijke boek wordt geprezen, ben ik er pas nu toe gekomen het te lezen. Na de dood van zijn moeder is Thubron de oudste van zijn familie. Misschien was het de confronta
Mar 29, 2017 Beata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To moja pierwsza książka Thubrona. Na półce czekają kolejne trzy. Nie żałuję, że czekają, bo przede mną prawdopodobnie kolejne zachwyty pięknym stylem i językiem dekorowanym ładnymi i czasem rzadko używanymi słowami. Ta lektura kojarzy mi się z przykuwajacym oczy misternym naszyjnikiem, który plecie ze sobą sporą ilość szczegółowych faktów dotyczących pielgrzymowania na świętą górę Kaljas oraz ślicznych opisów mijanych w drodze monumentalnych nepalskich i tybetańskich krajobrazów. Czytałam tę ks ...more
"In the beginning Kailas was just rock—rock and stones. Without spirit. Then the gods came down with their entourages and settled there. They may not exactly live there now, but they have left their energy, and the place is full of spirits…"the myth behind Mt. Kailas

Now in his seventies, famed travel writer Colin Thubron left his wife and home in England and trekked to a holy mountain in Tibet from Nepal. It was a personal journey. From Nepal, where his father hunted bear and big cats eighty yea
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 11, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘I am doing this on account of the dead.’

In this book, Colin Thubron sets of towards Mount Kailas, the sacred and mystical mountain in Tibet which is sacred to the Bon, to Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. Mount Kailas is close to the Tibetan borders with Nepal and India, and lies very close to the sources of all of the four major rivers of the Indian subcontinent: the Brahmaputra, the Ganges, the Indus and the Sutlej. The mountain rises abruptly from the flat western Tibetan plateau, approximately 2
It has been a while since I have read any Colin Thubron non-fiction, which I generally find to be 4 star quality, and very enjoyable. Not so much his fiction, but that is another (2 star) story.

This book, I have been looking forward to reading, but it feels a little different to the Thubron I remember. It is possible that this journey is, for Thubron, a more personal journey that his previous work. His mother has passed away, following his father and his sister, who died in a skiing accident in
Feb 21, 2011 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book of the Week listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
There is a mountain in Western Tibet -- far off the usual tourist routes around Lhasa -- that is considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus (especially worshipers of Shiva), Bons, and other Asian religions. In Chinese myth, the mountain is called Mount Meru. Colin Thubron calls it Mount Kailas.

Accompanied by a couple Nepalese guides, Thubron walked from Simikot in Western Nepal several hundred miles, frequently of altitudes of 12,000 to 18,000 feet, to perform the pilgrim’s circuit around the mount
Oct 23, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tibet
This is a book with great prose and a lot of informed insight, but I had a tough time getting my bearings.

First, the title is confusing. This IS a trip TO a mountain... and then 3/4 up it. It doesn't help that the first 100+ pages describe a descent. The book's map shows the towns visited, but the map is cluttered and the trek and drive portions are not labeled. It was hard to make out for sure where the author was actually going, but it appeared to be more than "to" the mountain. Halfway throug
May 21, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is about the author's pilgramage to Mt Kailas(22,000 feet) to reflect on his mother's death. He talked more of his outer journey than his inner journey, supplying interesting facts about where he goes and what he sees, supplying some details I hadn't put together.

Mt. Ksilas is believed to be where Buddists and Hindus believe where earth and heaven are joined, where sanctity replenishes the earth, where gods reside (Including Shiva), and inside of which is a heaven-connecting rope dow
Sep 08, 2014 Manu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
Mount Kailas has been circling my mind space for a long while now, thanks to it being at an intersection of two of my favourite themes - Hindu mythology and travel. A peak that has never been scaled, but a mountain that has witnessed the circumambulation of scores of pilgrims across centuries. Personally, that made it more interesting to me than a standard travelogue.
The mountain is considered holy by two among the world's biggest faiths - Hinduism and Buddhism. This is in addition to Bon, a na
Jan 01, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing
"To a Mountain in Tibet" was one of the most fascinating and transformative travelogues I have ever read; a worthy competitor to Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time of Gifts." Thubron opens a doorway into the mystical land of Tibet as well as Buddhism and Hinduism while on a pilgrimage that begins in Nepal and ends in one of the holiest places on earth to one-fifth of the world's population--Mount Kailas, Tibet.

In brilliant detail, he recounts his rigorous yet spiritual expedition through this remot
Mar 17, 2011 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grabbed To a Mountain in Tibet because I'd love to go to Tibet someday, and duh! It's a book about a guy who goes to Tibet.

But holy cow is it so much more than that. I still conjure up the images I read in it. Beautiful and haunting and enigmatic. The author excels at describing place and people while keeping intact the mystery that surrounds it all. He doesn't hesitate in facing the cultural differences that put him off, and he avoids the unreality that is the legend of Tibet. He doesn't make
Grady McCallie
Oct 28, 2012 Grady McCallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
In this relatively short (218 page) book, travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron recounts a trek from Nepal to Tibet, where he ultimately circles Mount Kailas, a holy mountain sought by Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Bon pilgrims. His journey is fairly short, and far from epic, but he observes and describes the landscape and people he meets with such care, that the story expands and commands attention. The trip is also as much an internal as an external pilgrimage; Thubron took this trip some mont ...more
Ridhika Khanna
To a Mountain in Tibet is a story about a man undertaking a journey towards the holy peak Kailas after the death of his mother.

I loved the way Thubron has described the landscape of Tibet. He has gone into details and has written after close observations of nature. I loved that part of his writting.

Also, he has given a glimpse of Tibet after Chinese invasions. Yet another set of cruel and un justified stories of the annexation of Tibet by China. It makes me sad when I read about it.
Thubron ha
May 03, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply a stunning book. Colin Thubron travels to Tibet to circumambulate Mt. Kailas after the death of his mother, his last living relative. He enters through Nepal with a guide and a cook. His observations and his writing are haunting. At the base of the mountain, a Tibetan ceremony is recorded. Thousands of pilgrims circle an 80 ft pole strung with prayer flags. The irony is that this is really the middle of NOWHERE, yet Chinese police are EVERYWHERE. It feels very intimidating and reminiscent ...more
Feb 22, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lee
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dayanand Prabhu
This book is about the author's journey to Kailas, for a very personal reason. I very much disliked this book the first time I read it some months ago. So quite hesitantly I gave it a second chance and found it quite pleasant. Although the words used is not very simple to grasp the writing is from the heart in a very sober tone. The way the journey gets related to his past life and the reason for the journey is in a typical orthodox travelogue fashion. The best part about the book is how the tim ...more
Michelle Welch
Apr 11, 2015 Michelle Welch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might have been harder to read if I hadn't already had a little knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism; I was able to recognize some of the background information Thubron provides about the region he's visiting, so it didn't seem so overpoweringly foreign. I'm reminded, unsurprisingly, of Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," another memoir of an arduous journey taken to come to terms with a mother's loss. Where Strayed focused much more on her internal journey, however, Thubron spends more time on his surroundi ...more
Mohit Parikh
Mar 09, 2016 Mohit Parikh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Mohit by: Jaipur Literature Festival
Very dull. On almost every single page I had to force myself to read on. My takeaway from the book is almost nothing - can't remember any geographical, cultural, historical or religious facts about the road to Tibet from Nepal.
Also, don't think it is good writing. The poesy in descriptions is whimsical; the rumination stuttered.
The author does succeed in demythifying Tibet, and Buddhism, to an extent. And the bits about his personal life are sad and captivating (but too brief).
Not recommended
Garrett Hamblin
I usually don't read travelogues, but it was given to me as a gift from a friend so I thought I would try it. Although not a quick read, I found To a Mountain in Tibet to be extremely well written. The way that Colin Thubron describes the landscape and it's inhabitants so vividly, I feel as if I was tagging along on his personal journey to the solitary peak of Kailis. He really captures the mystique of Tibet and its surrounding region.
Feb 21, 2013 itpdx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Thubron joins pilgrims doing a kora of the mountain, Kailas, in Tibet. He ponders the beliefs about death of his fellow pilgrims, Buddhists, Hindus and others, and recalls the experiences of those who have been there before him as he morns the death of his mother and sister.

This book also carries a reminder of the devastating effect of the Chinese Cultural Revolution on Tibet.
Oct 07, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exquisite travel book by the master
Alison Smith
Oct 10, 2014 Alison Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything a travel book should be - superb. Highly recommended. Title says it all - Thubron goes to Mount Kailas a.k.a. Mt Meru. Fascinating.
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Colin Thubron, CBE FRSL is a Man Booker nominated British travel writer and novelist.

In 2008, The Times ranked him 45th on their list of the 50 greatest postwar British writers. He is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Times, The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Thubron was appointed a CBE in the 2007
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“As the track bends north-east, the ethereal sandstone disappears. The slopes turn black with granite, and the mountain's lower ridges break into unstable spikes and revetments. Their ribs are slashed in chiaroscuro, and their last outcrops pour towards the valley in the fluid, anthropomorphic shapes that pilgrims love. The spine and haunches of a massive stone beast, gazing at Kailas, are hailed as the Nandi bull, holy to Shiva; another rock has become the votive cake of Padmasambhava.” 3 likes
“A journey is not a cure. It brings an illusion, only, of change, and becomes at best a spartan comfort” 2 likes
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