1936 - 1937 Mission Diary

The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.

August 28th, Friday, Lhasa.

see photographs below

Today's visitors comprised the following:

(i) Katrung Mingi Lingpa, Cabinet Secretary,

(ii) Grand Secretary for Clerical Affairs Trungyik Chemo Khenrab Wangchuk.

(iii) Grand Secretary for Clerical Affairs. Ramba Trunyik Chemo, Tubden Kunkhen

(iv) Ragarshar Chona Jongpon

(v) Tse Chhak Shokang

(vi) Yabshi Phunkhang (a Duke of Tibet with estates at Gyantse).

We called this morning on the Regent at his private residence which is a newly built small house or pavilion in the grounds of Shiday Gompa in the city of Lhasa. Owing to rain the approaches were filthy, muddy, and a terrible odour of sewage pervades all the streets. In dry weather this is not so bad.

The Regent's pavilion is a very pretty little building and charmingly decorated inside. There is a small square garden surrounded by a high wall, with grass lawn and lovely flower beds 'with a profusion of flowers. The place is full of pet birds and animals, including a talking ‘Mina’, paro-queets, a monkey, a leopard cub, a fox cub, pheasants and numerous dogs.

The young Regent was much more natural and talkative here than in the Potala yesterday. This time the Prime Minister was not present, and only a very friendly Dzasa in Chief attendance with several minor officials All were very friendly and natural.

Presents were carried in and given to the Regent, a beautiful silver tea service and tray, rifles, etc., etc., first and foremost Gould presented the 'Kharita' (letter) and photograph from the Vice-roy and also three young spaniels as a personal gift from the Viceroy. These were particularly appropriate in view of the Regent's love of animals and pets.

The conversation turned on flowers, the Regent's room and garden containing masses of them. He was very interested when Gould told him that His Majesty the King was keen on flowers, and had specially asked for certain Tibetan wild flowers to be collected by Gould for him.

Neame and Chapman were allowed to take photos and cine of the Regent; amongst his attendants was a giant lama some 7 feet high, and when Neame snapped him he began to talk and wave his arms. These were not threatening gestures as he was only asking for a copy of the photo.

The Regent asked Gould to talk freely to all officials, and said that the Tibetans wanted our help. Just before we left all the Mission servants were blessed by the Regent.

We then went on to make a private call on the Prime Minister, where pre-sents were also presented. He was not so easy to get on with and remained very much the official, seated on a cere-monial divan at a higher level than us. It is noticeable that the Regent himself and all the Shapes when entertain-ing us have sat in the room with us, and have also given us European tea. Whereas the Longchen remained on cere-mony and only gave us Tibetan tea. The three shapes in particular have been friendly and natural and free in their talk.

In the afternoon the most notable of the visitors were the two Grand Clerical Secretaries, both very friendly and both obviously men of affairs and with personality.

The kung or duke was an aristocratic very polite but with not much to say.

It is not easy to find a suitable area for an aerodrome in the neighbourhood of Lhasa as the whole valley is so well watered that wet cultivation or actual swampy ground abounds everywhere. From October to March the area is dryer. As a result of reconnaissance within a few miles of Lhasa, it appears that three areas afford possibilities.

One, a flat meadow of grassland, giving an area of 1,000 yards by 200 to 300 yards lies immediately north of the Potala between the sandy embankment of the Chhera Chu stream and Sera Monastery. It is level and smooth with good turf surface and un-doubtedly in the dry season would be suitable for immediate use as landing ground without any preliminary work. At present there is water standing in a good many places, but even after heavy rain there is nowhere more than a couple of inches of water, and the sur-face under the water is hard enough for a pony to trot or canter on without making any impression or sinking in.

Neame is of opinion, from some small experience of flooded aerodromes in Eastern Bengal that a landing and take off would be feasible with safety under present conditions. There is another area suitable in all weather but more restricted in size, just 800 yards long and 200 to 250 yards wide which lies north of this wet grassy plain and nearer to Sera Gompa. It has a very level sandy gravelly surface with tufts of rough grass. Across the middle is a very shallow water seepage channel but no obstacle. This is probably the safest and best landing ground for immediate use.

The third area lies immediately west of the Arsenal, about 1 1/2 miles north east of the Potala, and between the Arsenal (Tapchi) and Sera monastery.

This area is hard gravelly sand, covered with stones, with a slight uphill slope towards the hills bounding the Lhasa plain on the north, into a side valley of which the area merges. There is ample room for a landing up the slight slope and take off running downhill to the open plain. The electric power line bounds the area on the east and restricts it somewhat. There are -however some small mounds and low 'Bunds' on the area. An emergency landing or take off would probably be feasible on a space some 700 yards long and 150 to 200 yards wide in the centre of the area where the surface irregularities are shall, provided the pilot made a low reconnaissance first. The bumps and stones would of course make a landing far from ideal.

With work an area of practically any size required could be levelled and cleared of stones, and would be fit for use in the heaviest rains. If necessary the electric power line could be moved further East.

It is difficult to make any exact estimate, but say 200 men working for a week should make a vast difference, and produce a surface safe under any conditions.

The Military Route book is not up to date as regards the journey to Lhasa, for the single stages shown do not correspond to the single stages now in use, nor are the mileages given correct. Nepean will produce detailed amendments in due course, but it may be of interest to detail the normal stages, altitudes (which are not given in detail in the Route Book), and mileage.

Gyantse 13, 23 Ft.

1. Gabshi 13,80C Ft. 17 1/2 miles.

2. Ralung 15,000 Ft. 14 1/2 miles.

3. Dzara 15,700 Ft. 14 miles.

4. Nag-Kar-Tse 14,500 Ft. 15 miles.

5. Pe-de-Jong 14,500 Ft. 16 miles.

6. Singma Kangchang 11,750 Ft. 12 miles.

7. Chusul 11,600 Ft. 16 miles.

8. Netang 11.600 Ft. 23 miles.

9. Lhasa 11,800 Ft. 18 Miles.

The intermediate halting places given in the Route Book can of course be used, but the above are the normal trade or travelling stages, when marching single marches. Some of the route book places lie 3 or 4 miles off the main route.

Author: Philip Neame [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]

Page Reference: Pt IV p.3

Neame [Regent]


Neame [Regent]

toggle image sizeEnlarge
Sir Basil Gould


Sir Basil Gould

toggle image sizeEnlarge
Sir Basil Gould


Sir Basil Gould

toggle image sizeEnlarge
Reting Regent


Reting Regent

toggle image sizeEnlarge

previous (27th August) entry next (29th August) entry