Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Escape Route to India

This map is likely accurate to within a few dozen yards.

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Starting in the spring of 1959, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche led a group of refugees on a nine-month journey across Tibet. He describes their route in his autobiography, Born in Tibet, with text, and a remarkably accurate hand-drawn map.

Trungpa Rinpoche’s hand-drawn map of his route in India. “From BORN IN TIBET by Chögyam Trungpa. 1966 by Diana J. Mukpo. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, www.shambhala.com

With the aid of a computerized flight simulator and a digital map of Tibet, Grant MacLean has used this information to trace the escape route shown below. In the absence of a digital map covering Eastern Tibet, the map covers the later, most arduous and dramatic, part of the journey when, after hearing that the road to Lhasa was blocked by Chinese troops, the party turned south towards India.

CTR’s route in India.

Where prominent landmarks such as rivers, mountain peaks, and passes are identifiable, such as between the Nupkong La and Tsophu Passes, this map is likely accurate to within a few dozen yards. Between Tsophu Pass and the Tsangpo/Brahmaputra River, when the party was often lost, it is a representation. Here and in a few other places MacLean has combined the available resources with an intuitive sense afforded by the three dimensional graphics of the flight simulator.

Map Coordinates

NUPKONG LA PASS
N 30 52 53
E 93 41 34

ALADO
N 30 38 10
E 94 10 60

ALADO/YIGONG JUNCTION
N 30 26 69
E 94 05 27

TSOPHU PASS
N 30 08 11
E 94 18 12

BRAHMAPUTRA CROSSING (9,500′)
N 29 31 19
E 94 51 99

MT. NAMCHAG BARWA (25,445′)
N 29 37 56
E 95 04 08

REJOINING BRAHMAPUTRA
N 29 14 62
E 95 09 89

TUTING
N 28 58 55
E 94 54 00

References

Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Born in Tibet, Shambhala, Boston, 1985.

The Times Atlas of the World: New Reference Edition, Times Books, London, 2001.

Tibetan Map Institute (http://perso.wanadoo.fr/tibetmap/mapbr1.html)

Microsoft FS2004 – A Century of Flight.

Himalayas 76m Terrain Mesh, FSGenesis (http://portal.fsgenesis.net/).

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