In the early 20th century, an Indian traveller and scholar set off on a journey to Tibet in search of ancient Buddhist palm-leaf manuscripts that were once stored in the libraries of Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities. The manuscripts had been taken to Tibet by fleeing Buddhist monks when these great centres of learning, dating to the 5th and 8th centuries CE, were attacked by invading Muslim armies, first in the 12th century CE and later as well. Now it was time to bring them back.
The man who was determined to return this part of India’s lost heritage was the famous traveller, scholar and writer, Rahul Sankrityayan, who at some point also became a Buddhist monk. But this was no ordinary mission. Sankrityayan, who was drawn to adventure and spent more than 45 years travelling in India and abroad, disguised himself as a Nepali on this expedition, for it was a time when Tibetans were wary of Indians due to the British policy of expansion.
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