Publish Date: April 20, 1959
Cover Story: The Dalai Lama Escapes from the Chinese
How TIME Covered the News: During the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism made a dramatic escape from the clutches of the Chinese army, fleeing across vast, rugged Himalayan borderlands to sanctuary in India. There, the Dalai Lama has remained in exile ever since, a spiritual leader beloved by many with a political mission long unfulfilled. In TIME’s story, you can see the early glimmers of the West’s arguably condescending, romantic view of the Dalai Lama’s homeland.
“Tibet is cold, filled with silence and bones, haunted by demons; yet Tibetans are a strangely happy people. In the brief two months of summer, they swarm from their dirty, smoke-filled houses, set up white tents with blue trimmings on the river meadows, sing, drink milk beer and tell stories. They splash together in the streams for their first baths of the year. Nearly every visitor to penetrate the forbidden land has been enchanted by its people. They do few things terribly well, but everything with zest.”