British Exploration of Tibet and Central Asia
Derek Waller presents the history of these explorers, who came to be called "native explorers" or "pundits" in the public documents of the Survey of India. In the closed files of the government of British India, however, they were given their true designation as spies. As they moved northward within the Indian subcontinent, the British demanded precise frontiers and sought orderly political and economic relationships with their neighbors. They were also becoming increasingly aware of and concerned with their ignorance of the geographical, political, and military complexion of the territories beyond the mountain frontiers of the Indian empire. This was particularly true of Tibet.
Though use of pundits was phased out in the 1890s in favor of purely British expeditions, they gathered an immense amount of information on the topography of the region, the customs of its inhabitants, and the nature of its government and military resources. They were able to travel to places where virtually no European count venture, and did so under conditions of extreme deprivation and great danger. They are responsible for documenting an area of over one million square miles, most of it completely unknown territory to the West. Now, thanks to Waller's efforts, their contributions to history will no longer remain forgotten.
About the Author
"An excellent and very well-researched book; for the first time the explorations of the Pundits have been recorded in one book, and we can be grateful to Derek Waller for having done it so well."—USI Journal
"A fascinating and historically important book about the frontier policies of the British empire, policies bearing some resonance even today as controversy over frontiers (the Durnad Line, the McMahon Line) in the region continues."—American Historical Review
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