top of page
For 2024 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
Class 10
Class 12

Silk Road | NCERT Solution | English | Class XI

Updated: Nov 23

Lesson Architecture


  • This lesson gives us a picturesque description of the journey to the Mount Kailash.

  • The writer undertakes the thrilling, but challenging uphill journey on to the Tibetan Himalayas to participate in the ritual called 'Kora'.

  • This silk road was the trade route between China, Tibet, India and extended up to Afghanistan.

  • The lesson focusses on the journey through the mesmerizing mountainous terrain up to a place called Darchen from where he would trek up to the mountain.


  • The narrator was on his way to Mount Kailash to take part in the Kora.

  • He left a place called Ravu with another person, Daniel and his driver cum guide, Tsetan, who knew the route very well.

  • Tsetan took the short cut from Ravu that could lead them directly towards Mount Kailash through the high mountain passes.

  • As they started their onward journey, they could see gazelles, herds of wild ass and nomads with their flocks. Nomads are called 'drokba' in the local language.

  • The huge Tibetan mastiffs often chased the car like a running bullet, barking furiously. Sometimes they chased the car till the car went beyond their area of dominance.

  • They entered a valley where the river was wide and clogged with ice.

  • Snow capped mountains appeared in view. The road gradually moved away from the icy river, but the first hurdle came on the way.

  • There was snow on the track. Tsetan and Daniel threw dirt on the track enabling the car to move slowly over it.

  • Tsetan maneuvered a second obstacle of snow and regained height to where snow had not drifted.

  • They stopped for lunch at 2 pm. By late afternoon they reached the small town of Hor on the main east-west highway which was the old trade route from Lhasa to Kashmir.

  • From Hor Daniel parted by taking a truck ride to Lhasa.

  • Hor was a grim, miserable place which was located on the shore of the famous Lake Mansarowar, Tibet's most respected and holy stretch of water. It is the source of four sacred Indian rivers.

  • Hor was a dry and dirty place with almost no vegetation. There were rocks, dust and lot of refuse strewn around.

  • They were delayed in Hor as Tsetan had to fix two punctures.

  • They reached a guest house at Darchen at around half past ten at night. The author spent a horrible night in hunger and tiredness.

  • He caught a cold and had great difficulty in breathing. He stayed awake for the whole duration of night.

  • The next morning Tsetan took him to a Tibetan doctor whose medicines helped him to recover from the cold and breathing difficulty. Tsetan then left the author there and returned to Lhasa.

  • Darchen was a small town dirty with heaps of rubble and refuse. There were a few general stores selling Chinese cigarettes and basic provisions.

  • Darchen felt relaxed and unhurried and the author felt disappointed as it meant that pilgrims had not yet arrived for the 'Kora'. He realized that he had come too early for the pilgrimage. Moreover, after the departure of Tsetan, he could not get any company who could speak English.

  • One afternoon while sitting in a cafe, he met a Tibetan academician named Norbu who had been writing several academic papers on the Kailash Kora.

  • The became friends and decided to take the pilgrimage together. They agreed on hiring some yaks to carry the luggage.

Easy Translation of the Original Text

Para 1 | Page 74

A FLAWLESS half-moon floated in a perfect blue sky on the morning we said our goodbyes. Extended banks of cloud like long French loaves glowed pink as the sun emerged to splash the distant mountain tops with a rose-tinted blush. Now that we were leaving Ravu, Lhamo said she wanted to give me a farewell present. One evening I’d told her through Daniel that I was heading towards Mount Kailash to complete the kora, and she’d said that I ought to get some warmer clothes. After ducking back into her tent, she emerged carrying one of the long-sleeved sheepskin coats that all the men wore. Tsetan sized me up as we clambered into his car. “Ah, yes,” he declared, “drokba, sir.”


On the morning of our departure from Ravu, the sky was flawless, displaying a perfect half-moon in a beautiful blue expanse. Long clouds resembling French loaves glowed pink, illuminated by the emerging sun, casting a rosy hue on distant mountain tops. Lhamo, aware of my journey to Mount Kailash, decided to gift me a farewell present. Earlier, I had mentioned to her through Daniel that I was embarking on the kora around Mount Kailash. Concerned about the cold, she reappeared from her tent with a long-sleeved sheepskin coat, similar to those worn by local men.

Word Power

1. **Flawless:** Without any imperfections or defects.

- *Usage:* The diamond was flawless, with no visible blemishes or inclusions.

2. **Half-moon:** The shape of the moon when it is illuminated less than half, but more than a crescent.

- *Usage:* The night sky revealed a beautiful half-moon, casting a gentle glow over the landscape.

3. **Extended:** Stretched out over a distance or period of time.

- *Usage:* The road trip was extended due to unexpected detours and scenic stops along the way.

4. **French loaves:** Long, slender, or baguette-shaped bread, typically associated with French baking.

- *Usage:* The bakery displayed a variety of French loaves, each with a unique crust and flavor.

5. **Emerged:** Came into view or existence.

- *Usage:* As the sun rose, the picturesque landscape emerged, revealing its beauty to the onlookers.

6. **Splash:** To cause a liquid to scatter in drops or particles.

- *Usage:* The waves crashed against the rocks, creating a splash of seawater in the air.

7. **Rose-tinted:** Having a pink or rosy color.

- *Usage:* The sunset cast a rose-tinted glow across the horizon, painting the sky in warm hues.

8. **Kora:** A pilgrimage or circumambulation, especially around a sacred place.

- *Usage:* Many devotees undertake the kora around Mount Kailash as a spiritual journey.

9. **Ducking back:** Quickly moving back or withdrawing from a place.

- *Usage:* Startled by the sudden noise, the rabbit quickly ducked back into its burrow.

10. **Clambered:** Climbed with effort or clumsily.

- *Usage:* The hikers clambered up the steep hill, using tree roots for support.

11. **Sized up:** Assessed or evaluated someone or something.

- *Usage:* The chef sized up the ingredients before deciding on the perfect recipe for the evening.

12. **Drokba:**

Para 2 | Page 74

We took a short cut to get off the Changtang. Tsetan knew a route that would take us south-west, almost directly towards Mount Kailash. It involved crossing several fairly high mountain passes, he said. “But no problem, sir”, he assured us, “if there is no snow.” What was the likelihood of that I asked. “Not knowing, sir, until we get there.”


"We decided to take a shorter route to leave the Changtang. Tsetan knew a path that would lead us in a south-west direction, almost straight to Mount Kailash. He mentioned that it required crossing some quite high mountain passes. 'But no problem, sir,' he assured us, 'as long as there's no snow.' I inquired about the likelihood of snow. 'Can't say for sure, sir, until we reach there.'"

Word Power

1. **Short cut:** A quicker or more direct route.

- *Usage:* Taking a short cut through the forest saved us a lot of time.

2. **Changtang:** A high plateau in Tibet.

- *Usage:* The Changtang is known for its vast landscapes and nomadic communities.

3. **South-west:** The direction midway between south and west.

- *Usage:* We headed south-west, following the compass to reach our destination.

4. **Fairly:** To a moderate extent; somewhat.

- *Usage:* The hike involved crossing fairly challenging terrain, requiring endurance.

5. **Mountain passes:** Gaps or openings in a mountain range allowing passage.

- *Usage:* Climbers must navigate mountain passes carefully to reach the summit.

6. **Likelihood:** The chance or probability of something happening.

- *Usage:* The meteorologist assessed the likelihood of rain based on the cloud formations.

7. **Assured:** Made certain or confident.

- *Usage:* The guide assured us that the trail was safe for hiking.

8. **No problem:** An expression indicating ease or lack of difficulty.

- *Usage:* When asked about the task, she replied, "No problem at all, I can handle it."

9. **Inquiry:** Seeking information through questioning.

- *Usage:* The detective conducted a thorough inquiry to solve the mystery.

10. **Likelihood:** The probability or chance of an event occurring.

- *Usage:* Assessing the likelihood of success, the team carefully planned their strategy.

11. **Can't say for sure:** Expressing uncertainty or inability to provide a definite answer.

- *Usage:* When asked about the weather, the forecaster admitted, "Can't say for sure, it's unpredictable."

12. **Reach there:** Arrive at the intended destination.

- *Usage:* We'll know more about the road conditions once we reach there.

Para 3 | Page 74-75

From the gently rolling hills of Ravu, the short cut took us across vast open plains with nothing in them except a few gazelles that would look up from nibbling the arid pastures and frown before bounding away into the void. Further on, where the plains became more stony than grassy, a great herd of wild ass came into view. Tsetan told us we were approaching them long before they appeared. “Kyang,” he said, pointing towards a far-off pall of dust. When we drew near, I could see the herd galloping en masse, wheeling and turning in tight formation as if they were practising manoeuvres on some predetermined course. Plumes of dust billowed into the crisp, clean air.


"From the gently rolling hills of Ravu, the short cut took us across vast open plains, devoid of much except a few gazelles. These gazelles, engrossed in nibbling the arid pastures, would glance up and frown before swiftly bounding away into the emptiness. As we progressed, the grassy plains turned more stony than grassy, revealing a large herd of wild ass. Tsetan, our guide, anticipated their presence long before they came into view. 'Kyang,' he said, pointing towards a distant cloud of dust. Upon nearing, I witnessed the herd galloping together, executing tight formations as if rehearsing maneuvers on a predetermined course. Plumes of dust rose into the crisp, clean air."

Word Power

1. **Gently rolling hills:** Hills with a smooth, gradual slope.

- *Usage:* The landscape was adorned with gently rolling hills that stretched as far as the eye could see.

2. **Short cut:** A quicker or more direct route.

- *Usage:* Tsetan suggested a short cut through the plains to reach our destination faster.

3. **Vast open plains:** Expansive, flat areas of land.

- *Usage:* The safari took us across vast open plains where wildlife roamed freely.

4. **Devoid:** Completely lacking or empty.

- *Usage:* The room was devoid of any furniture, giving it a minimalist appearance.

5. **Gazelles:** Small to medium-sized antelopes with slender bodies and curved horns.

- *Usage:* The savannah is home to various wildlife, including graceful gazelles.

6. **Nibbling:** Eating in small bites or nibbles.

- *Usage:* The rabbits were nibbling on the fresh, green grass in the meadow.

7. **Arid pastures:** Dry and barren grasslands.

- *Usage:* The arid pastures made it challenging for the animals to find sufficient food.

8. **Frown:** A facial expression indicating displeasure or worry.

- *Usage:* The gazelles would frown momentarily before darting away from any perceived threat.

9. **Bounding away:** Moving away quickly by leaping or jumping.

- *Usage:* Startled by the noise, the deer began bounding away through the forest.

10. **Stony:** Covered with or characterized by stones.

- *Usage:* The stony terrain made hiking more challenging but offered breathtaking views.

11. **Grassy:** Covered with or having an abundance of grass.

- *Usage:* The grassy meadows were perfect for picnics and outdoor activities.

12. **Wild ass:** A type of wild, undomesticated donkey.

- *Usage:* The safari allowed us to observe a herd of wild ass in their natural habitat.

13. **Approaching:** Coming nearer or getting closer.

- *Usage:* The guide warned us that we were approaching a potentially dangerous area.

14. **Far-off:** At a considerable distance.

- *Usage:* The far-off mountains looked majestic in the morning sunlight.

15. **Pall of dust:** A large cloud or covering of dust.

- *Usage:* The construction site created a pall of dust that could be seen from a distance.

16. **Gallop:** A fast running movement of a horse or other quadruped.

- *Usage:* The horses broke into a gallop as they raced across the open field.

17. **En masse:** In a group or all together.

- *Usage:* The birds took flight en masse, creating a mesmerizing pattern in the sky.

18. **Wheeling and turning:** Moving in circular or spinning motions.

- *Usage:* The flock of birds was wheeling and turning in the sky, creating a breathtaking display.

19. **Tight formation:** A close and orderly arrangement of objects or individuals.

- *Usage:* The geese flew in a tight formation, creating a synchronized and graceful spectacle.

20. **Practising manoeuvres:** Rehearsing specific movements or actions.

- *Usage:* The military aircraft were practicing manoeuvres in preparation for an upcoming airshow.

21. **Predetermined course:** A set or decided path chosen in advance.

- *Usage:* The athletes followed a predetermined course during the race.

22. **Plumes of dust:** Columns or clouds of dust rising into the air.

- *Usage:* The off-road vehicles kicked up plumes of dust as they sped through the desert.

23. **Billowed:** Swelled or surged outwards.

- *Usage:* The sails billowed in the wind as the ship sailed across the open sea.

24. **Crisp, clean air:** Fresh and clear quality of the air.

- *Usage:* After the rain, the crisp, clean air in the mountains was invigorating.

Para 2| Page 75

As hills started to push up once more from the rocky wilderness, we passed solitary drokbas tending their flocks. Sometimes men, sometimes women, these well-wrapped figures would pause and stare at our car, occasionally waving as we passed. When the track took us close to their animals, the sheep would take evasive action, veering away from the speeding vehicle.


"As hills started to rise again from the rocky wilderness, we encountered solitary drokbas overseeing their flocks. Whether men or women, these well-wrapped figures would occasionally pause to stare at our car, sometimes offering a wave as we drove by. When the track brought us near their animals, the sheep would swiftly take evasive action, veering away from the swiftly moving vehicle."

Word Power

1. **Push up:** Rise or ascend.

- *Usage:* The flowers push up from the soil in the spring, signaling the arrival of warmer weather.

2. **Rocky wilderness:** A barren and rugged area with rocks and little vegetation.

- *Usage:* The explorers navigated through the rocky wilderness, searching for signs of ancient civilizations.

3. **Solitary drokbas:** Individuals belonging to the Drokpa community who live in solitude.

- *Usage:* The solitary drokbas were content with their isolated lifestyle in the remote mountains.

4. **Tending their flocks:** Caring for and managing a group of domesticated animals.

- *Usage:* The shepherd spent the day tending his flock, ensuring the well-being of each sheep.

5. **Well-wrapped figures:** Individuals dressed warmly and covered in layers of clothing.

- *Usage:* In the chilly winter, people transform into well-wrapped figures, protecting themselves from the cold.

6. **Pause:** Stop briefly.

- *Usage:* The hiker decided to pause and enjoy the scenic view from the mountaintop.

7. **Stare:** Look fixedly at something with one's eyes wide open.

- *Usage:* The curious child would often stare at the animals in the zoo, fascinated by their behavior.

8. **Occasionally:** At times or now and then.

- *Usage:* The old clock would occasionally chime, marking the passing hours in the silent room.

9. **Wave:** Greet someone by moving one's hand back and forth.

- *Usage:* The friendly neighbor would always wave to us whenever we passed by.

10. **Pass by:** Move past or go by.

- *Usage:* As we pass by the bakery, the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the air.

11. **Track:** A rough path or road.

- *Usage:* The hikers followed the track through the forest, guided by the markers on the trees.

12. **Close to:** Near or in proximity to.

- *Usage:* The store is located close to the city center for easy access.

13. **Animals:** Domesticated creatures such as sheep, cattle, or goats.

- *Usage:* The farmer took pride in caring for his animals and ensuring their health.

14. **Evasive action:** Swift and strategic movements to avoid something.

- *Usage:* The skilled driver took evasive action to avoid a collision with the oncoming vehicle.

15. **Veering away:** Changing direction or swerving to the side.

- *Usage:* The cyclist had to veer away from the pothole to avoid a bumpy ride.

16. **Speeding vehicle:** A vehicle moving at a high speed.

- *Usage:* The speeding vehicle zoomed past, leaving a trail of dust in its wake.

Para 3| Page 75

We passed nomads’ dark tents pitched in splendid isolation, usually with a huge black dog, a Tibetan mastiff, standing guard. These beasts would cock their great big heads when they became aware of our approach and fix us in their sights. As we continued to draw closer, they would explode into action, speeding directly towards us, like a bullet from a gun and nearly as fast.


"We drove past the dark tents of nomads, set up in magnificent solitude, often accompanied by a massive black dog, a Tibetan mastiff, serving as a vigilant guardian. These formidable creatures would raise their large heads upon sensing our presence and focus on us intently. As we approached, they would suddenly burst into motion, racing straight toward us like a bullet from a gun, nearly as swift."

Word Power

1. **Nomads:** People who move from place to place without a permanent home.

- *Usage:* The nomads traveled across the vast desert in search of grazing lands for their herds.

2. **Pitched:** Set up or placed in a particular location.

- *Usage:* The campers pitched their tents by the river for a night under the stars.

3. **Splendid isolation:** Impressive seclusion or being set apart in a grand manner.

- *Usage:* The mountain retreat offered splendid isolation, providing peace and tranquility.

4. **Huge:** Extremely large in size.

- *Usage:* The elephant had huge ears that helped it regulate body temperature.

5. **Black dog:** Refers to a Tibetan mastiff, a large breed of dog with a distinctive black coat.

- *Usage:* The nomad's black dog, a Tibetan mastiff, was known for its strength and loyalty.

6. **Tibetan mastiff:** A breed of large, powerful dog originally bred to guard livestock.

- *Usage:* The Tibetan mastiff is prized for its protective nature and majestic appearance.

7. **Standing guard:** Being alert and watchful to protect against potential threats.

- *Usage:* The security guard was standing guard at the entrance, ensuring only authorized individuals entered.

8. **Cock their heads:** Tilt or raise their heads in a curious or alert manner.

- *Usage:* The puppy would cock its head when hearing a new sound, showing curiosity.

9. **Aware of:** Conscious or cognizant of something.

- *Usage:* The cat became aware of the approaching footsteps and perked up its ears.

10. **Approach:** Move closer to or come near.

- *Usage:* The ship began to approach the harbor as the crew prepared for docking.

11. **Fix us in their sights:** Focus their attention or gaze on us.

- *Usage:* The eagle fixed its prey in its sights before swooping down for the catch.

12. **Explode into action:** Quickly and energetically engage in activity.

- *Usage:* The athlete would explode into action as soon as the race began, showcasing remarkable speed.

13. **Speeding directly:** Moving rapidly and in a straight line.

- *Usage:* The sports car was speeding directly towards the finish line, leaving competitors behind.

14. **Like a bullet from a gun:** Extremely fast and direct, resembling the speed of a fired bullet.

- *Usage:* The sprinter raced down the track like a bullet from a gun, breaking records in the process.

15. **Nearly as fast:** Almost as swift or quick.

- *Usage:* The cheetah can run nearly as fast as a speeding car, making it the fastest land animal.

Para 4| Page 75-76

These shaggy monsters, blacker than the darkest night, usually wore bright red collars and barked furiously with massive jaws. They were completely fearless of our vehicle, shooting straight into our path, causing Tsetan to brake and swerve. The dog would make chase for a hundred metres or so before easing off, having seen us off the property. It wasn’t difficult to understand why ferocious Tibetan mastiffs became popular in China’s imperial courts as hunting dogs, brought along the Silk Road in ancient times as tribute from Tibet.


"These shaggy monsters, darker than the darkest night, often adorned with bright red collars, would bark ferociously, displaying massive jaws. They showed absolute fearlessness towards our vehicle, charging directly into our path, prompting Tsetan to brake and swerve. The dogs would pursue us for about a hundred meters before relenting, ensuring we left their territory. It became clear why these formidable Tibetan mastiffs gained popularity in China's imperial courts as hunting dogs. They were brought along the Silk Road in ancient times, presented as tributes from Tibet."

Word Power

1. **Shaggy monsters:** Refers to Tibetan mastiffs, large and hairy dog breeds.

- *Usage:* The shaggy monsters roamed freely in the highlands, guarding the nomads' herds.

2. **Darker than the darkest night:** Extremely black or having a pitch-black color.

- *Usage:* The night sky in the countryside was darker than the darkest night, perfect for stargazing.

3. **Adorned with:** Decorated or embellished with a particular feature.

- *Usage:* The Christmas tree was adorned with colorful ornaments and twinkling lights.

4. **Bright red collars:** Collars of a vivid or intense red color.

- *Usage:* The dogs in the park wore bright red collars, making them easily visible to their owners.

5. **Barked furiously:** Barked loudly and aggressively.

- *Usage:* The small dog barked furiously at the approaching stranger, guarding its owner's property.

6. **Massive jaws:** Extremely large or powerful jaws.

- *Usage:* The lioness had massive jaws, capable of delivering a powerful bite to catch its prey.

7. **Fearless of:** Showing a lack of fear or intimidation in the face of a potential threat.

- *Usage:* The fearless explorer ventured into the dense forest, ready to encounter unknown wildlife.

8. **Vehicle:** Refers to the car or mode of transportation.

- *Usage:* The family loaded their belongings into the vehicle and set off on a road trip.

9. **Shooting straight into our path:** Quickly moving directly toward our direction.

- *Usage:* The cyclist, unaware of the approaching car, shot straight into its path, causing a close call.

10. **Brake and swerve:** Apply the brakes and make a sudden change in direction.

- *Usage:* The driver had to brake and swerve to avoid colliding with the unexpected obstacle on the road.

11. **Make chase:** Pursue or follow in a determined manner.

- *Usage:* The police made chase after the speeding suspect, attempting to bring the vehicle to a stop.

12. **A hundred metres or so:** Approximately one hundred meters.

- *Usage:* The hiking trail led through the forest for a hundred meters or so before opening up to a scenic viewpoint.

13. **Easing off:** Gradually reducing speed or intensity.

- *Usage:* After the competition, the athlete started easing off, allowing the body to recover from the exertion.

14. **Seen us off the property:** Ensured that we left the territory or premises.

- *Usage:* The security guard saw off the intruders, making sure they left the restricted area.

15. **Ferocious Tibetan mastiffs:** Fierce and aggressive Tibetan mastiff dogs.

- *Usage:* The ferocious Tibetan mastiffs were known for their protective nature, guarding the nomads' homes.

16. **Imperial courts:** The royal or official courts of emperors and rulers.

- *Usage:* The emperor held court in the grand halls of the imperial palace, surrounded by advisors and dignitaries.

17. **Hunting dogs:** Dogs trained and used for hunting purposes.

- *Usage:* The hunting dogs accompanied the hunters, assisting in tracking and retrieving game.

18. **Brought along the Silk Road:** Transported or carried along the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road.

- *Usage:* Merchants brought exotic spices and goods from the East, traveling along the Silk Road.

19. **Ancient times:** Refers to a period in the distant past.

- *Usage:* The ancient times are often romanticized, with tales of knights and dragons capturing our imagination.

20. **Tribute from Tibet:** Offerings or gifts presented as a sign of respect or allegiance from the region of Tibet.

- *Usage:* The emissaries brought tribute from Tibet to the emperor, showcasing the wealth and culture of the region.

Para 1| Page 76

By now we could see snow-capped mountains gathering on the horizon. We entered a valley where the river was wide and mostly clogged with ice, brilliant white and glinting in the sunshine. The trail hugged its bank, twisting with the meanders as we gradually gained height and the valley sides closed in.


"By now, we could see snow-capped mountains forming on the horizon. As we ventured into a valley, the river stretched wide, mostly obstructed by ice, gleaming brilliantly white in the sunshine. The trail followed closely along its bank, winding with the meanders as we steadily ascended, and the valley sides drew nearer."

**Word Meanings:**

1. **Snow-capped mountains:** Mountains with their peaks covered in snow.

- *Usage:* The trekking group marveled at the breathtaking view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

2. **Gathering on the horizon:** Becoming visible or forming in the distant horizon.

- *Usage:* As the sun set, the stars began gathering on the horizon, creating a mesmerizing night sky.

3. **Entered a valley:** Moved into a low area of land between hills or mountains.

- *Usage:* The explorers entered a picturesque valley, surrounded by lush greenery and flowing streams.

4. **River was wide:** The river had a considerable width or breadth.

- *Usage:* The river was wide enough to accommodate various water activities, attracting tourists from all around.

5. **Mostly clogged with ice:** Predominantly blocked or obstructed by ice.

- *Usage:* During the harsh winter, the river became mostly clogged with ice, creating a stunning icy landscape.

6. Brilliant white: Extremely bright and shining with a white color.

- *Usage:* The snow-covered field looked brilliant white under the moonlight, creating a serene and magical atmosphere.

7. Glinting in the sunshine: Reflecting or sparkling in the sunlight.

Usage: The lake's surface was glinting in the sunshine, creating a dazzling display of light.

8. Trail hugged its bank: The path closely followed along the edge or side of the riverbank.

Usage: The hiking trail hugged the bank of the river, providing scenic views of the flowing water.

9. Twisting with the meanders: Turning or winding along the curves and bends of the river.

- *Usage:* The road through the canyon was twisting with the meanders of the river, offering breathtaking vistas.

10. Gradually gained height: Slowly increased in elevation or climbed upwards.

- *Usage:* The climbers gradually gained height as they ascended the mountain, reaching new vantage points.

11. Valley sides closed in: The slopes or sides of the valley came closer together.

- *Usage:* As we hiked further, the valley sides closed in, creating a more intimate and enclosed environment.

Para 2| Page 76

The turns became sharper and the ride bumpier, Tsetan now in third gear as we continued to climb. The track moved away from the icy river, labouring through steeper slopes that sported big rocks daubed with patches of bright orange lichen. Beneath the rocks, hunks of snow clung on in the near - permanent shade. I felt the pressure building up in my ears, held my nose, snorted and cleared them. We struggled round another tight bend and Tsetan stopped. He had opened his door and jumped out of his seat before I realised what was going on. “Snow,” said Daniel as he too exited the vehicle, letting in a breath of cold air as he did so.


"The turns became sharper, and the ride bumpier as Tsetan shifted to third gear, navigating through steeper slopes. The trail veered away from the icy river, maneuvering through rocky terrain adorned with patches of bright orange lichen. Snow clung beneath the rocks, persisting in the near-permanent shade. I felt the pressure in my ears and cleared them by holding my nose and snorting. As we approached another tight bend, Tsetan suddenly stopped. He swiftly opened his door and leaped out, catching me off guard. 'Snow,' Daniel exclaimed as he also exited the vehicle, allowing a chilly breath of cold air to rush in."

Word Power:

1. **Sharp turns:** Abrupt or sudden changes in direction.

- *Usage:* The roller coaster took sharp turns, thrilling the riders with unexpected twists and loops.

2. **Bumpy ride:** A journey characterized by uneven or rough surfaces.

- *Usage:* The dirt road provided a bumpy ride, making the passengers bounce in their seats.

3. **Shifted to third gear:** Changed to the third gear of the vehicle for driving.

- *Usage:* The experienced driver smoothly shifted to third gear, optimizing speed on the highway.

4. **Navigating through slopes:** Steering or progressing through elevated surfaces.

- *Usage:* The mountain bikers were skillfully navigating through the slopes, enjoying the challenge of the terrain.

5. **Veered away:** Turned or moved away from a particular direction.

- *Usage:* The hikers veered away from the dense forest and followed a trail leading to an open meadow.

6. **Adorned with lichen:** Decorated or covered with patches of bright orange lichen.

- *Usage:* The ancient tree trunks were adorned with lichen, adding a vibrant touch to the forest landscape.

7. **Persisting in the shade:** Continuing to exist or endure in an area with little sunlight.

- *Usage:* Moss and ferns persisted in the shade of the dense forest, thriving in the cool, shadowed environment.

8. **Pressure building up in ears:** Sensation of increasing pressure in the ears, often experienced during changes in altitude.

- *Usage:* During the airplane's descent, passengers may feel pressure building up in their ears.

9. **Cleared them:** Relieved or equalized the pressure in the ears.

- *Usage:* Swallowing or yawning helps clear the ears and alleviate discomfort during changes in elevation.

10. **Struggled round a bend:** Moved with difficulty around a curved or twisted section of the trail.

- *Usage:* The cyclists struggled round the steep bend, pushing their bikes uphill.

11. **Exited the vehicle:** Stepped out or left the vehicle.

- *Usage:* The passengers exited the bus and stepped onto the platform as they reached their destination.

12. **Breath of cold air:** A rush of chilly or cold air.

- *Usage:* Opening the window brought a refreshing breath of cold air into the stuffy room.

13. **Rushed in:** Entered quickly or forcefully.

- *Usage:* The strong wind rushed in as soon as we opened the door, signaling the arrival of a storm.

Para 3 | Page 76

A swathe of the white stuff lay across the track in front of us, stretching for maybe fifteen metres before it petered out and the dirt trail reappeared. The snow continued on either side of us, smoothing the abrupt bank on the upslope side. The bank was too steep for our vehicle to scale, so there was no way round the snow patch. I joined Daniel as Tsetan stepped on to the encrusted snow and began to slither and slide forward, stamping his foot from time to time to ascertain how sturdy it was. I looked at my wristwatch. We were at 5,210 metres above sea level.


"A blanket of white snow covered the track ahead, extending for approximately fifteen meters before fading away, revealing the dirt trail. The snow persisted on both sides, smoothing the abrupt slope on the uphill side. The incline was too steep for our vehicle to climb, leaving no alternative route around the snowy patch. Joining Daniel, I observed as Tsetan stepped onto the icy snow, sliding and slithering forward. He intermittently stamped his foot to gauge its sturdiness. Glancing at my wristwatch, I noted that we were at an elevation of 5,210 meters above sea level."

Word Power

1. **Swathe of white stuff:** A broad or extensive area covered with white snow.

- *Usage:* The mountain range was a swathe of white stuff, creating a picturesque winter landscape.

2. **Petered out:** Gradually diminished or faded away.

- *Usage:* The trail petered out as it reached the meadow, making navigation challenging for hikers.

3. **Dirt trail:** A path or track composed of soil or earth.

- *Usage:* The dirt trail wound through the forest, offering a serene and natural hiking experience.

4. **Continued on either side:** Extended or persisted on both left and right directions.

- *Usage:* The river continued on either side of the bridge, showcasing the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscape.

5. **Smoothing the abrupt bank:** Making the steep slope appear more even or gentle.

- *Usage:* The landscaper worked on smoothing the abrupt bank, creating a more visually appealing garden.

6. **Upslope side:** The side of a slope facing uphill or ascending terrain.

- *Usage:* The mountain climbers faced challenges on the upslope side, where the ascent was steeper.

7. **Vehicle to scale:** The ability of the vehicle to climb or ascend a slope.

- *Usage:* The off-road vehicle was equipped with features that allowed it to scale steep terrains effortlessly.

8. **No way round:** No alternative or bypass available.

- *Usage:* Due to the road closure, there was no way round the construction site, requiring drivers to find alternative routes.

9. **Encrusted snow:** Snow that has formed a hard or icy crust on the surface.

- *Usage:* The skiers found it challenging to glide over the encrusted snow, as it was less powdery and more compact.

10. **Slither and slide forward:** Move smoothly and with a sliding motion on the icy surface.

- *Usage:* The children enjoyed the winter fun as they slithered and slid forward on the frozen pond.

11. **Stamping his foot:** Pressing the foot forcefully on the snow or ground.

- *Usage:* The hiker stamped his foot to create a firm footing in the snow, ensuring stability on the slippery surface.

12. **Ascertaining how sturdy it was:** Checking or confirming the strength and stability of the snow.

- *Usage:* Before venturing onto the frozen lake, the ice fisherman used an auger to ascertain how sturdy the ice was.

13. **Wristwatch:** A small timekeeping device worn on the wrist.

- *Usage:* I glanced at my wristwatch to check the time before heading to the meeting.

14. **Elevation above sea level:** The height of a location measured from sea level.

- *Usage:* The mountain's elevation above sea level was a significant factor in determining its climate and ecosystem.

Para 4 | Page 76

The snow didn’t look too deep to me, but the danger wasn’t its depth, Daniel said, so much as its icy top layer. “If we slip off, the car could turn over,” he suggested, as we saw Tsetan grab handfuls of dirt and fling them across the frozen surface. We both pitched in and, when the snow was spread with soil, Daniel and I stayed out of the vehicle to lighten Tsetan’s load. He backed up and drove towards the dirty snow, eased the car on to its icy surface and slowly drove its length without apparent difficulty.


"The snow didn't appear excessively deep, but Daniel pointed out that the real risk was the icy layer on top. Concerned about the potential of the car turning over if we slipped off, Tsetan took preventive measures. He grabbed handfuls of dirt and scattered them across the frozen surface. Joining him, Daniel and I assisted in spreading soil on the snow. To reduce the vehicle's load, Daniel and I remained outside as Tsetan backed up and carefully maneuvered onto the icy surface. Remarkably, the car traversed the length of the icy patch without any evident difficulty."

**Word Meanings:**

1. **Depth:** The distance from the top surface to the bottom of something.

- *Usage:* The depth of the swimming pool was marked on the side to ensure swimmers' safety.

2. **Icy top layer:** A frozen and slippery surface on the top of the snow.

- *Usage:* The icy top layer of the pond made it challenging for skaters to maintain their balance.

3. **Turn over:** Flip or rotate upside down.

- *Usage:* The car skidded on the icy road and threatened to turn over, but the driver skillfully regained control.

4. **Pitched in:** Contributed or joined in to help with a task.

- *Usage:* Everyone pitched in to clean up the community park after the event.

5. **Spread with soil:** Disperse or scatter soil over a surface.

- *Usage:* Gardeners spread mulch with soil to enrich the ground and promote plant growth.

6. **Stayed out of the vehicle:** Remained outside the car.

- *Usage:* As the car was being repaired, passengers stayed out of the vehicle and waited by the roadside.

7. **Lighten Tsetan's load:** Reduce the weight or burden that Tsetan had to carry.

- *Usage:* The team members offered to help with the workload to lighten Tsetan's load during the busy period.

8. **Backed up:** Moved the vehicle backward.

- *Usage:* The driver carefully backed up the car to find a better parking spot.

9. **Drove towards the dirty snow:** Directed the vehicle toward the snow covered with soil.

- *Usage:* The snowplow driver drove towards the dirty snow, clearing the road for safe passage.

10. **Eased the car onto its icy surface:** Gradually and carefully guided the car onto the frozen and slippery surface.

- *Usage:* The experienced driver eased the car onto its icy surface, ensuring a smooth transition without skidding.

11. **Traversed the length:** Successfully moved across the entire distance.

- *Usage:* The hikers traversed the length of the trail, enjoying breathtaking views along the way.

12. **Without apparent difficulty:** Seemingly without any visible challenges or issues.

- *Usage:* The experienced climber scaled the mountain without apparent difficulty, showcasing his skill and expertise.

Para 5 | Page 76

Ten minutes later, we stopped at another blockage. “Not good, sir,” Tsetan announced as he jumped out again to survey the scene. This time he decided to try and drive round the snow. The slope was steep and studded with major rocks, but somehow Tsetan negotiated them, his four-wheel drive vehicle lurching from one obstacle to the next. In so doing he cut off one of the hairpin bends, regaining the trail further up where the snow had not drifted.


"Ten minutes later, we encountered another obstacle. Tsetan, expressing his concern with 'Not good, sir,' exited the vehicle once more to assess the situation. This time, he opted to navigate around the snow blockade. The slope was challenging, adorned with substantial rocks, but skillfully, Tsetan maneuvered his four-wheel-drive vehicle from one obstacle to the next. In the process, he circumvented one of the hairpin bends, rejoining the trail at a higher point where the snow had not accumulated."

Word Meanings:

1. **Blockage:** Something that blocks or obstructs the way.

- *Usage:* The fallen tree created a blockage on the road, causing traffic to come to a halt.

2. **Not good:** Indicating a problem or unfavorable situation.

- *Usage:* The mechanic inspected the engine and shook his head, saying, "Not good, we need to replace a crucial part."

3. **Survey the scene:** Examine and assess the situation.

- *Usage:* The detective arrived at the crime scene to survey the area and gather evidence.

4. **Drive round:** Maneuver around or avoid.

- *Usage:* To avoid the construction zone, drivers had to find a way to drive round the road closure.

5. **Steep:** Having a sharp incline or slope.

- *Usage:* The mountain trail became steep, requiring hikers to use trekking poles for support.

6. **Studded with major rocks:** Adorned or filled with significant-sized rocks.

- *Usage:* The hiking trail was studded with major rocks, making it challenging for the climbers.

7. **Negotiated them:** Successfully navigated or managed to traverse the obstacles.

- *Usage:* The experienced pilot skillfully negotiated the turbulent weather conditions during the flight.

8. **Lurching:** Moving abruptly or unsteadily.

- *Usage:* The boat began lurching as it encountered rough waves in the stormy sea.

9. **Hairpin bends:** Sharp and tight turns in a road resembling the shape of a hairpin.

- *Usage:* The mountain road had numerous hairpin bends, requiring drivers to navigate carefully.

10. **Regaining the trail:** Getting back on the intended path or route.

- *Usage:* After taking a detour, the hikers focused on regaining the trail to reach their destination.

11. **Further up:** At a higher point or location.

- *Usage:* The mountain climbers continued trekking further up, reaching the summit with breathtaking views.

12. **Drifted:** Accumulated or piled up due to wind or other forces.

- *Usage:* The snow had drifted along the road, creating challenging conditions for drivers.

Para 1 | Page 77

I checked my watch again as we continued to climb in the bright sunshine. We crept past 5,400 metres and my head began to throb horribly. I took gulps from my water bottle, which is supposed to help a rapid ascent.


"I glanced at my watch once more as we continued our ascent in the radiant sunshine. Surpassing the 5,400-meter mark, my head started throbbing intensely. Attempting to alleviate the discomfort of rapid ascent, I took large gulps from my water bottle."

Word Power

1. **Glanced:** Took a quick or brief look.

- *Usage:* She glanced at the clock and realized she was running late for the meeting.

2. **Ascent:** The act of climbing or moving upward.

- *Usage:* The steep ascent to the mountaintop required proper gear and careful navigation.

3. **Surpassing:** Exceeding or going beyond.

- *Usage:* The athlete aimed at surpassing the previous record in the upcoming race.

4. **Throbbing:** Pulsating or beating with pain.

- *Usage:* The throbbing in her temples indicated the onset of a headache.

5. **Alleviate:** Relieve or reduce the intensity of.

- *Usage:* A hot compress can help alleviate muscle soreness after a strenuous workout.

6. **Discomfort:** A state of unease or physical distress.

- *Usage:* The uncomfortable chair caused considerable discomfort during the long meeting.

7. **Rapid ascent:** Quickly climbing to higher altitudes.

- *Usage:* Mountaineers need to acclimatize to avoid health issues during rapid ascent to high elevations.

Para 2 | Page 77

We finally reached the top of the pass at 5,515 metres. It was marked by a large cairn of rocks festooned with white silk scarves and ragged prayer flags. We all took a turn round the cairn, in a clockwise direction as is the tradition, and Tsetan checked the tyres on his vehicle. He stopped at the petrol tank and partially unscrewed the top, which emitted a loud hiss. The lower atmospheric pressure was allowing the fuel to expand. It sounded dangerous to me. “Maybe, sir,” Tsetan laughed “but no smoking.”


"At last, we reached the summit of the pass at 5,515 meters. A prominent cairn, adorned with white silk scarves and tattered prayer flags, marked the spot. Following tradition, we each circled the cairn clockwise. Tsetan, our driver, inspected the vehicle's tires. He approached the petrol tank, loosening the cap, resulting in a loud hiss. The lower atmospheric pressure caused the fuel to expand, a potentially risky situation. Tsetan chuckled, saying, 'Maybe, sir, but no smoking.'"

Word Power

1. **Summit:** The highest point or peak.

- *Usage:* Climbers celebrate reaching the summit of Mount Everest with a sense of accomplishment.

2. **Cairn:** A mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark.

- *Usage:* Hikers often create a cairn to mark a trail or commemorate a significant location.

3. **Festooned:** Adorned or decorated with hanging items.

- *Usage:* The room was festooned with colorful banners for the festive occasion.

4. **Prayer Flags:** Flags with sacred symbols, often used in Tibetan Buddhism.

- *Usage:* Prayer flags are believed to bring blessings and positive energy when hung in the wind.

5. **Clockwise:** In the direction that the hands of a clock move.

- *Usage:* The dancers moved in a clockwise direction around the ceremonial fire.

6. **Partially Unscrewed:** Loosened or opened only partially.

- *Usage:* She partially unscrewed the jar lid to release pressure before fully opening it.

7. **Atmospheric Pressure:** The pressure exerted by the Earth's atmosphere.

- *Usage:* Changes in atmospheric pressure can affect weather patterns and human comfort.

8. **Potentially Risky:** Involving a possibility of danger or harm.

- *Usage:* Engaging in extreme sports comes with a potentially risky outcome.

9. **Chuckled:** Laughed quietly or to oneself.

- *Usage:* The comedian's witty remark made the audience chuckle with amusement.

Para 3 | Page 77

My headache soon cleared as we careered down the other side of the pass. It was two o’clock by the time we stopped for lunch. We ate hot noodles inside a long canvas tent, part of a workcamp erected beside a dry salt lake. The plateau is pockmarked with salt flats and brackish lakes, vestiges of the Tethys Ocean which bordered Tibet before the great continental collision that lifted it skyward. This one was a hive of activity, men with pickaxes and shovels trudging back and forth in their long sheepskin coats and salt-encrusted boots. All wore sunglasses against the glare as a steady stream of blue trucks emerged from the blindingly white lake laden with piles of salt.


"My headache quickly disappeared as we descended the opposite side of the pass. It was two o'clock when we paused for lunch. Inside a lengthy canvas tent, part of a work camp near a dry salt lake, we enjoyed hot noodles. The plateau features numerous salt flats and brackish lakes, remnants of the Tethys Ocean that once bordered Tibet. This lake, in particular, buzzed with activity. Men, clad in long sheepskin coats and boots encrusted with salt, toiled with pickaxes and shovels. Shielded by sunglasses against the intense glare, they shuttled back and forth as blue trucks, loaded with salt, continuously emerged from the brilliantly white lake."

Word Power:

1. **Cleared:** Disappeared or became free from.

- *Usage:* With proper rest, her fatigue cleared, and she felt energized.

2. **Careered Down:** Moved swiftly or uncontrollably downhill.

- *Usage:* The cyclists careered down the steep slope, enjoying the thrill of the descent.

3. **Pockmarked:** Marked or scarred with small pits or indentations.

- *Usage:* The old building was pockmarked with bullet holes from a past conflict.

4. **Vestiges:** Traces or remnants of something that no longer exists.

- *Usage:* The ancient ruins are the vestiges of a once-thriving civilization.

5. **Continental Collision:** The convergence of tectonic plates resulting in the collision of continental landmasses.

- *Usage:* The Himalayas formed due to the continental collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates.

6. **Skyward:** Toward the sky or upward direction.

- *Usage:* The rocket soared skyward, leaving a trail of exhaust in its wake.

7. **Hive of Activity:** A place where many busy and energetic actions are taking place.

- *Usage:* The marketplace was a hive of activity with vendors selling goods and customers bustling around.

8. **Encrusted:** Covered or coated with a hard layer or substance.

- *Usage:* The ship's hull was encrusted with barnacles after years in the salty sea.

9. **Blindingly White:** Extremely bright or dazzling white.

- *Usage:* The snow-covered landscape was blindingly white under the noonday sun.

10. **Laden:** Heavily loaded or burdened.

- *Usage:* The delivery truck was laden with packages for the holiday season.

Para 4 | Page 77

By late afternoon we had reached the small town of Hor, back on the main east-west highway that followed the old trade route from Lhasa to Kashmir. Daniel, who was returning to Lhasa, found a ride in a truck so Tsetan and I bade him farewell outside a tyre-repair shop. We had suffered two punctures in quick succession on the drive down from the salt lake and Tsetan was eager to have them fixed since they left him with no spares. Besides, the second tyre he’d changed had been replaced by one that was as smooth as my bald head.


"In the late afternoon, we arrived at the small town of Hor, situated along the main east-west highway that traces the ancient trade route from Lhasa to Kashmir. Daniel, heading back to Lhasa, secured a ride in a truck. Tsetan and I bid him farewell outside a tire repair shop. Our descent from the salt lake had resulted in two rapid punctures, and Tsetan was keen to have them repaired as he had no spare tires left. Moreover, the replacement for the second tire change was as smooth as my bald head."

Word Power

1. **Bade:** Said goodbye or parted ways.

- *Usage:* With a heavy heart, she bade farewell to her childhood home.

2. **Tyre-Repair Shop:** A place where tires are fixed or replaced.

- *Usage:* The driver stopped at the tire-repair shop to fix the flat tire.

3. **Punctures:** Holes or piercings, especially in a tire.

- *Usage:* The cyclist had to stop and repair the puncture in his bike tire.

4. **Spares:** Additional items kept in reserve as replacements.

- *Usage:* It's wise to carry spares, such as extra batteries, when going on a long hike.

5. **Smooth:** Having an even surface; free from irregularities.

- *Usage:* The polished marble floor was smooth to the touch.

6. **Bald Head:** A head without hair, typically due to hair loss.

- *Usage:* He decided to embrace his bald head and no longer felt the need for hairpieces.

Para 5 | Page 77-78

Hor was a grim, miserable place. There was no vegetation whatsoever, just dust and rocks, liberally scattered with years of accumulated refuse, which was unfortunate given that the town sat on the shore of Lake Manasarovar, Tibet’s most venerated stretch of water. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist cosmology pinpoints Manasarovar as the source of four great Indian rivers: the Indus, the Ganges, the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra. Actually only the Sutlej flows from the lake, but the headwaters of the others all rise nearby on the flanks of Mount Kailash. We were within striking distance of the great mountain and I was eager to forge ahead.


"Hor presented a desolate and dreary scene. Devoid of any vegetation, the landscape consisted solely of dust and rocks, generously scattered with years of accumulated waste. This was unfortunate, considering the town's location on the shores of Lake Manasarovar, Tibet's most revered body of water. According to ancient Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, Manasarovar is identified as the origin of four significant Indian rivers: the Indus, the Ganges, the Sutlej, and the Brahmaputra. In reality, only the Sutlej flows from the lake, but the headwaters of the others all originate nearby, on the slopes of Mount Kailash. We were close to the magnificent mountain, and my anticipation to proceed ahead was high."

Word Power

1. **Grim:** Depressingly bleak or gloomy.

- *Usage:* The abandoned factory presented a grim picture of industrial decline.

2. **Miserable:** Wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.

- *Usage:* The travelers found themselves in a miserable situation when the storm hit.

3. **Vegetation:** Plants considered collectively, especially those found in a particular area or habitat.

- *Usage:* The dense vegetation in the rainforest provides a home for numerous species.

4. **Refuse:** Waste or garbage.

- *Usage:* Citizens are encouraged to dispose of their refuse in designated bins.

5. **Venerated:** Regarded with great respect or reverence.

- *Usage:* The ancient temple is venerated by pilgrims from around the world.

6. **Cosmology:** The science or theory of the universe as an ordered system.

- *Usage:* Ancient cultures often developed elaborate cosmologies to explain the workings of the cosmos.

7. **Flanks:** The sides or edges of something.

- *Usage:* The mountain goat skillfully navigated the steep flanks of the cliff.

8. **Forge Ahead:** To move forward with determination.

- *Usage:* Despite facing challenges, the team decided to forge ahead with their project.

Para 1 | Page 78

But I had to wait. Tsetan told me to go and drink some tea in Hor’s only cafe which, like all the other buildings in town, was constructed from badly painted concrete and had three broken windows. The good view of the lake through one of them helped to compensate for the draught.


"But patience was required. Tsetan instructed me to have some tea at Hor's sole cafe, a structure like the rest in town—made of poorly painted concrete and boasting three broken windows. The view of the lake, visible through one of these windows, served as a partial compensation for the draft."

Word Power

1. **Compensate:** To make up for, offset, or balance the effect of something.

- *Usage:* The stunning scenery compensated for the challenging hike.

2. **Draught:** A current of cool air in a room or other confined space.

- *Usage:* Closing the windows reduced the draught in the chilly room.

Para 2-3 | Page 78

I was served by a Chinese youth in military uniform who spread the grease around on my table with a filthy rag before bringing me a glass and a thermos of tea.

Half an hour later, Tsetan relieved me from my solitary confinement and we drove past a lot more rocks and rubbish westwards out of town towards Mount Kailash.


"I was attended to by a Chinese youth in military attire who wiped my table with a dirty cloth before providing a glass and a thermos of tea. Thirty minutes later, Tsetan rescued me from my isolated state, and we continued westward out of town, passing numerous rocks and debris on our way to Mount Kailash."

Word Power

1. **Confinement:** The state of being confined or restricted.

- *Usage:* The animal felt anxious in the confinement of the small cage.

2. **Attire:** Clothing, especially when worn for a particular occasion or purpose; a costume.

- *Usage:* The formal attire for the event was a black-tie suit.

Para 4 | Page 78

My experience in Hor came as a stark contrast to accounts I’d read of earlier travellers’ first encounters with Lake Manasarovar. Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese monk who had arrived there in 1900, was so moved by the sanctity of the lake that he burst into tears. A couple of years later, the hallowed waters had a similar effect on Sven Hedin, a Swede who wasn’t prone to sentimental outbursts.


"My time in Hor presented a sharp difference from the stories I had read about the initial meetings of earlier travelers with Lake Manasarovar. In 1900, Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese monk, was so deeply moved by the holiness of the lake that he wept. A few years later, Sven Hedin, a Swede known for his lack of sentimental displays, was similarly affected by the revered waters."

Word Power

1. **Sanctity:** The state or quality of being holy, sacred, or saintly.

- *Usage:* The monks preserved the sanctity of the temple through regular rituals.

2. **Holiness:** The quality or state of being holy.

- *Usage:* Pilgrims visit the holy site seeking spiritual blessings and holiness.

Para 5 | Page 78

It was dark by the time we finally left again and after 10.30 p.m. we drew up outside a guest house in Darchen for what turned out to be another troubled night. Kicking around in the open-air rubbish dump that passed for the town of Hor had set off my cold once more, though if truth be told it had never quite disappeared with my herbal tea. One of my nostrils was blocked again and as I lay down to sleep, I wasn’t convinced that the other would provide me with sufficient oxygen. My watch told me I was at 4,760 metres. It wasn’t much higher than Ravu, and there I’d been gasping for oxygen several times every night. I’d grown accustomed to these nocturnal disturbances by now, but they still scared me.


"It was nighttime when we left and, after 10:30 p.m., we arrived at a guest house in Darchen, marking another troubled night. Roaming in the open-air garbage dump that passed for the town of Hor had reignited my cold, which, truthfully, had never fully disappeared despite my herbal tea. One nostril was blocked again, and as I settled in for sleep, I doubted the other would provide enough oxygen. My watch indicated an altitude of 4,760 meters. While not significantly higher than Ravu, where I had struggled for oxygen at night, these nocturnal disruptions had become familiar but still unnerved me."

**Word Meanings:**

1. **Nocturnal:** Relating to or occurring during the night.

- *Usage:* Nocturnal animals, like owls, are adapted to hunt and be active during the night.

Para 6 | Page 78

Tired and hungry, I started breathing through my mouth. After a while, I switched to single-nostril power which seemed to be admitting enough oxygen but, just as I was drifting off, I woke up abruptly. Something was wrong. My chest felt strangely heavy and I sat up, a movement that cleared my nasal passages almost instantly and relieved the feeling in my chest. Curious, I thought.


"Exhausted and hungry, I began breathing through my mouth. After a while, I shifted to single-nostril breathing, which appeared to provide sufficient oxygen. However, as I was on the verge of falling asleep, I suddenly woke up. Something felt off. My chest felt unusually heavy, and when I sat up, the movement quickly cleared my nasal passages, easing the discomfort in my chest. I found it curious."

Word Power:

1. **Curious:** Strange or unusual; arousing interest or attention.

- *Usage:* The peculiar behavior of the animals in the forest was indeed curious and attracted the researchers' attention.

Para 1 | Page 79

I lay back down and tried again. Same result. I was on the point of disappearing into the land of nod when something told me not to. It must have been those emergency electrical impulses again, but this was not the same as on previous occasions. This time, I wasn’t gasping for breath, I was simply not allowed to go to sleep.


"I lay back down and attempted to sleep again, experiencing the same outcome. Just as I was about to drift off, an instinct warned me not to. It seemed like those emergency electrical signals once more, though this instance was different from previous occurrences. This time, it wasn't about struggling for breath; I was merely prohibited from falling asleep."

Word Power:

1. **Nod:** A brief and involuntary inclination or dropping of the head.

- *Usage:* After a long day's work, he couldn't resist the occasional nod during the boring meeting.

Para 2 | Page 79

Sitting up once more immediately made me feel better. I could breathe freely and my chest felt fine. But as soon as I lay down, my sinuses filled and my chest was odd. I tried propping myself upright against the wall, but now I couldn’t manage to relax enough to drop off. I couldn’t put my finger on the reason, but I was afraid to go to sleep. A little voice inside me was saying that if I did I might never wake up again. So I stayed awake all night.


"Sitting up once more immediately made me feel better. I could breathe freely, and my chest felt fine. But as soon as I lay down, my sinuses filled, and my chest felt odd. I tried propping myself upright against the wall, but now I couldn't manage to relax enough to drop off. I couldn't put my finger on the reason, but I was afraid to go to sleep. A little voice inside me was saying that if I did, I might never wake up again. So, I stayed awake all night."

Word Power:

1. **Sinuses:** Air-filled cavities in the bones of the face connected with the nasal cavity.

- *Usage:* His persistent cold affected his sinuses, causing discomfort and headaches.

Para 3 | Page 79

Tsetan took me to the Darchen medical college the following morning. The medical college at Darchen was new and looked like a monastery from the outside with a very solid door that led into a large courtyard. We found the consulting room which was dark and cold and occupied by a Tibetan doctor who wore none of the paraphernalia that I’d been expecting. No white coat, he looked like any other Tibetan with a thick pullover and a woolly hat. When I explained my sleepless symptoms and my sudden aversion to lying down, he shot me a few questions while feeling the veins in my wrist.


"Tsetan took me to the Darchen medical college the following morning. The medical college at Darchen was new and looked like a monastery from the outside with a very solid door that led into a large courtyard. We found the consulting room, which was dark and cold and occupied by a Tibetan doctor who wore none of the paraphernalia that I'd been expecting. No white coat, he looked like any other Tibetan with a thick pullover and a woolly hat. When I explained my sleepless symptoms and my sudden aversion to lying down, he shot me a few questions while feeling the veins in my wrist."

Word Power

1. **Paraphernalia:** Miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity.

- *Usage:* The photographer packed all his paraphernalia, including lenses and tripods, for the outdoor shoot.

Para 4-5 | Page 79

“It’s a cold,” he said finally through Tsetan. “A cold and the effects of altitude. I’ll give you something for it.”

I asked him if he thought I’d recover enough to be able to do the kora. “Oh yes,” he said, “you’ll be fine.”


"It's a cold," he said finally through Tsetan. "A cold and the effects of altitude. I'll give you something for it."

I asked him if he thought I'd recover enough to be able to do the kora. "Oh yes," he said, "you'll be fine."

Word Power

1. **Kora:** A pilgrimage circuit around a sacred site, typically Mount Kailash in Tibet.

Para 6 | Page 79

I walked out of the medical college clutching a brown envelope stuffed with fifteen screws of paper. I had a five-day course of Tibetan medicine which I started right away. I opened an after breakfast package and found it contained a brown powder that I had to take with hot water. It tasted just like cinnamon. The contents of the lunchtime and bedtime packages were less obviously identifiable. Both contained small, spherical brown pellets. They looked suspiciously like sheep dung, but of course I took them. That night, after my first full day’s course, I slept very soundly. Like a log, not a dead man.


I left the medical college holding a brown envelope filled with fifteen rolls of paper. I began a five-day Tibetan medicine course immediately. In the morning, I opened a package and discovered brown powder to be taken with hot water. It tasted like cinnamon. The contents of the lunch and bedtime packages were less recognizable. Both had small, round brown pellets that resembled sheep dung, but I took them. That night, after completing the first day of the course, I slept deeply, similar to a log, not like a dead person.

Word Power

1. **Screws of paper:** Rolled or folded sheets of paper.

2. **Cinnamon:** A spice with a warm, sweet flavor obtained from the inner bark of a tree.

3. **Spherical:** Shaped like a sphere or ball.

4. **Pellets:** Small, rounded masses or balls.

5. **Sheep dung:** Excrement of sheep, feces.

Para 1 | Page 80

Once he saw that I was going to live Tsetan left me, to return to Lhasa. As a Buddhist, he told me, he knew that it didn’t really matter if I passed away, but he thought it would be bad for business.


After realizing I would survive, Tsetan departed, heading back to Lhasa. As a Buddhist, he explained that, from a spiritual perspective, it wouldn't truly matter if I died. However, he added that it might adversely affect his business.

Para 2 | Page 80

Darchen didn’t look so horrible after a good night’s sleep. It was still dusty, partially derelict and punctuated by heaps of rubble and refuse, but the sun shone brilliantly in a clear blue sky and the outlook across the plain to the south gave me a vision of the Himalayas, commanded by a huge, snow-capped mountain, Gurla Mandhata, with just a wisp of cloud suspended over its summit.


Darchen appeared less unpleasant after a restful night. Although it remained dusty, partly in ruins, and marked by piles of debris and waste, the sun illuminated the surroundings with a clear blue sky. The southern view revealed a sight of the Himalayas, dominated by the massive, snow-covered Gurla Mandhata mountain, crowned with a delicate wisp of cloud over its summit.

Word Power

1. **Derelict:** In a very poor condition due to neglect or disuse.

2. **Punctuated:** Interrupted or marked at intervals.

3. **Heaps:** Large piles or quantities.

4. **Rubble:** Broken pieces of buildings or other structures.

5. **Outlook:** A view or prospect.

Para 3 | Page 80

The town had a couple of rudimentary general stores selling Chinese cigarettes, soap and other basic provisions, as well as the usual strings of prayer flags. In front of one, men gathered in the afternoon for a game of pool, the battered table looking supremely incongruous in the open air, while nearby women washed their long hair in the icy water of a narrow brook that babbled down past my guest house. Darchen felt relaxed and unhurried but, for me, it came with a significant drawback. There were no pilgrims.


Darchen featured a few basic general stores offering Chinese cigarettes, soap, and essential supplies, along with typical strings of prayer flags. In front of one store, men gathered in the afternoon to play pool, with the weathered table appearing oddly out of place outdoors. Nearby, women washed their long hair in the chilly water of a narrow brook flowing past my guest house. Darchen exuded a laid-back and unhurried atmosphere, but it had a notable downside for me—there were no pilgrims.

Word Power

1. **Rudimentary:** Basic or undeveloped.

2. **Provisions:** Necessary supplies or food.

3. **Incongruous:** Not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings.

4. **Babbled:** Made the continuous murmuring sound of flowing water.

5. **Drawback:** A disadvantage or unfavorable aspect.

Para 4 | Page 80

I’d been told that at the height of the pilgrimage season, the town was bustling with visitors. Many brought their own accommodation, enlarging the settlement round its edges as they set up their tents which spilled down on to the plain. I’d timed my arrival for the beginning of the season, but it seemed I was too early.


I had heard that during the peak pilgrimage season, the town bustled with visitors. Many brought their own accommodation, expanding the settlement around its periphery as they pitched tents that sprawled onto the plain. I had planned my arrival for the start of the season, but it appeared I was too early.

Word Power

1. **Bustling:** Full of energetic and lively activity.

2. **Accommodation:** Lodging or a place to stay.

3. **Enlarging:** Increasing or expanding.

4. **Sprawled:** Spread out in an untidy or irregular way.

Para 5 | Page 80

One afternoon I sat pondering my options over a glass of tea in Darchen’s only cafe. After a little consideration, I concluded they were severely limited. Clearly I hadn’t made much progress with my self-help programme on positive thinking.


One afternoon, I sat contemplating my options while sipping a glass of tea in Darchen's only cafe. After some reflection, I realized that my choices were quite restricted. It seemed that my self-help program on positive thinking hadn't yielded much progress.

Word Power

1. **Pondering:** Thinking carefully or deeply about something.

2. **Severely:** To a great extent or degree.

3. **Contemplating:** Thinking deeply or carefully about.

4. **Restricted:** Limited or confined.

Para 6 | Page 80

In my defence, it hadn’t been easy with all my sleeping difficulties, but however I looked at it, I could only wait. The pilgrimage trail was well-trodden, but I didn’t fancy doing it alone. The kora was seasonal because parts of the route were liable to blockage by snow. I had no idea whether or not the snow had cleared, but I wasn’t encouraged by the chunks of dirty ice that still clung to the banks of Darchen’s brook. Since Tsetan had left, I hadn’t come across anyone in Darchen with enough English to answer even this most basic question.


In my defense, it hadn't been easy with all my sleeping difficulties. However, no matter how I considered it, my options were limited. The pilgrimage trail was well-trodden, but I wasn't keen on doing it alone. The kora was seasonal, and I had no idea if the snow had cleared. The dirty ice chunks along Darchen's brook didn't encourage me. Since Tsetan left, I hadn't found anyone in Darchen with enough English to answer even this basic question.

Word Power

1. Defence: Justification or explanation of one's actions.

2. Encouraged: Inspired with confidence or hope.

3. Chunks: Large pieces or portions.

4. Brook: A small stream.

Para 7 | Page 80-81

Until, that is, I met Norbu. The cafe was small, dark and cavernous, with a long metal stove that ran down the middle. The walls and ceiling were wreathed in sheets of multi-coloured plastic, of the striped variety— broad blue, red and white—that is made into stout, voluminous shopping bags sold all over China, and in many other countries of Asia as well as Europe. As such, plastic must rate as one of China’s most successful exports along the Silk Road today.

Translation :

I didn't meet anyone interesting until I met Norbu. The cafe was small, dark, and like a cave, with a long metal stove running down the center. The walls and ceiling were covered in sheets of colorful plastic, like the striped kind – big blue, red, and white stripes – that are used to make strong, big shopping bags sold all over China, and in many other countries of Asia and Europe too. So, plastic must be one of China's most successful exports along the Silk Road today.

Para 1-3 | Page 81

The cafe had a single window beside which I’d taken up position so that I could see the pages of my notebook. I’d also brought a novel with me to help pass the time.

Norbu saw my book when he came in and asked with a gesture if he could sit opposite me at my rickety table. “You English?” he enquired, after he’d ordered tea. I told him I was, and we struck up a conversation.

I didn’t think he was from those parts because he was wearing a windcheater and metal-rimmed spectacles of a Western style. He was Tibetan, he told me, but worked in Beijing at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in the Institute of Ethnic Literature. I assumed he was on some sort of fieldwork.

Translation :

The cafe had only one window, and I sat next to it so I could see the pages of my notebook. I also brought a novel with me to help pass the time.

Norbu saw my book when he came in and asked with a hand gesture if he could sit across from me at my wobbly table. "You English?" he asked after ordering tea. I told him I was, and we started talking.

I didn't think he was from that area because he was wearing a windbreaker and Western-style metal-rimmed glasses. He told me he was Tibetan, but he worked in Beijing at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in the Institute of Ethnic Literature. I thought he was on some kind of field trip.

Para 4-5 | Page 81

“Yes and no,” he said. “I have come to do the kora.” My heart jumped. Norbu had been writing academic papers about the Kailash kora and its importance in various works of Buddhist literature for many years, he told me, but he had never actually done it himself.

When the time came for me to tell him what brought me to Darchen, his eyes lit up. “We could be a team,” he said excitedly. “Two academics who have escaped from the library.” Perhaps my positive-thinking strategy was working after all.

Translation :

"I'm half here to do the kora and half not," he said. Norbu explained that he had been writing academic papers about the Kailash kora and its significance in various Buddhist writings for many years, but he had never actually done it himself.

When I told him the reason for my visit to Darchen, his eyes lit up. "We could work together!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "Two scholars who have escaped the library." Perhaps my strategy of positive thinking was finally paying off.

Para 6 | Page 81

My initial relief at meeting Norbu, who was also staying in the guest house, was tempered by the realisation that he was almost as ill-equipped as I was for the pilgrimage. He kept telling me how fat he was and how hard it was going to be. “Very high up,” he kept reminding me, “so tiresome to walk.” He wasn’t really a practising Buddhist, it transpired, but he had enthusiasm and he was, of course, Tibetan.

Translation :

I was initially relieved to meet Norbu, who was also staying at the guest house, but I soon realized that he was almost as unprepared for the pilgrimage as I was. He kept lamenting about his weight and how difficult the journey would be. "Very high up," he would repeatedly say, "it's so tiring to walk." It turned out that he wasn't a devout Buddhist, but he was enthusiastic and, of course, Tibetan.

Para 7 | Page 81

Although I’d originally envisaged making the trek in the company of devout believers, on reflection I decided that perhaps Norbu would turn out to be the ideal companion. He suggested we hire some yaks to carry our luggage, which I interpreted as a good sign, and he had no intention of prostrating himself all round the mountain. “Not possible,” he cried, collapsing across the table in hysterical laughter. It wasn’t his style, and anyway his tummy was too big.

Translation :

Initially, I had imagined making the pilgrimage with dedicated believers, but upon further thought, I realized that Norbu might be the perfect companion. He proposed hiring yaks to carry our luggage, which I took as a positive indication, and he had no desire to prostrate himself around the entire mountain. "Not possible!" he exclaimed, collapsing across the table in fits of laughter. It wasn't his style, and besides, his tummy was too big.


NCERT Solution

Understanding the Text
Give reasons for the following statements.

1. The article has been titled ‘Silk Road.’

Ans: The route is called 'Silk Road' as it was the ancient trade route for commodities like silk, horses, dry fruits etc from China via Kahsmir up to Afghanistan. It has been so named as silk was an important commodity that was traded.

2. Tibetan mastiffs were popular in China’s imperial courts.

Ans: Tibetan mastiffs were huge black dogs standing guard at the nomad's tents. These ferocious monsters would shoot towards anyone who passed by their territory. They were very popular in China's imperial courts as they were very skilled in hunting . They were brought along the Silk Road in ancient times from Tiber to China.

3. The author’s experience at Hor was in stark contrast to earlier accounts of the place.

Hor was a dull and miserable place with rocks and dust and no vegetation anywhere. It was situated on the shore of Lake Mansarowar. There were heaps of filthy garbage lying scattered all around. It was rocky and dusty and without any vegetation. Thsus the author's experience at Hor was in stark contrast to earlier accounts of the place by a Japanese monk and a Swede.

4. The author was disappointed with Darchen.

The first night at Darchen was horrible for the author. One of his nostrils was blocked. His chest felt very heavy and he could not lie down to sleep.

The place felt relaxed and unhurried which actually disappointed the author because it meant that pilgrims had not yet arrived for the 'Kora'.

5. The author thought that his positive thinking strategy worked well after all.

On reaching Darchen, the poet became highly disappointed owing to his sudden illness and his loneliness after the departure of Tsetan. Moreover, he concluded that he reached Darchen quite early for Kora as no pilgrims had arrived there yet. Then he met Norbu and felt happy as eventually met an academician who also came to do 'Kora' . The author started thinking positively and it gave him some delight and a new enthusiasm.

II Briefly Comment on :

1. The purpose of the author's journey to Mount Kailash.

  • The author planned his journey to Mt. Kailash to complete a religious ritual called 'Kora'.

  • According to Hindu and Buddhist tradition, the Kora around Mt. Kailash is one of the most sacred religious rituals.

  • The author, an Englishman, went there to have a first hand experience.

2. The author's physical condition at Darchen.

  • On the very first night the author arrived at Darchen his health got worse. One of his nostrils got blocked and his chest felt very heavy.

  • As a result, he could not sleep. He had a feeling that he might never wake up if he slept. so he kept awake all night.

3. The author's meeting with Norbu.

  • The author met Norbu at Darchen where he was feeling very lonely after the departure of Tsetan for Lhasa. It was then that he met Norbu at a café.

  • Norbu was a Tibetan academician who came for the same purpose of doing 'Korba'. So his company gave warmth and both decided to make the pilgrimage together.

  • Following Norbu's suggestion, the author agreed to hire some yaks for carrying their luggage for the onward journey.

4. Tsetan's support to the author during the journey.

  • Tsetan had sound knowledge of the local routes for navigating through the harsh mountainous terrain. With his workable knowledge of English, Tsetan could share some information to the author on their uphill journey together.

  • At Darchen he took the author to a doctor when the latter's condition got worse following severe cold. Thus Tsetan provided constant support to the author till his departure for Lhasa.

5. As a Buddhist, he told me , he knew that it really didn't really matter if I passed away, but he thought it would be bad for business.

  • Tsetan made this statement from the perspective of a Buddhist. According to Buddhism, life is replete with sorrow and death brings nirvana or liberation of the soul.

  • Therefore, Tsetan thought that sacrificing one's life in a pilgrimage would be a blessing.

  • However, it would be bad for his business as his credibility as a tourist driver would be at stake if he did not carry out his duty to ensure safety for his fellow passengers.

CBQs will be uploaded shortly. Keep Visiting the Website
English With A Difference (

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

We have insatiable passion for Literature & Language and to empower English learners to build up a rock solid foundation. 

Let the lessons come to you.

Thanks for subscribing!

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
bottom of page