Silk Road Class 11 English Chapter 3 Summary, Explanation, And Word Meanings

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Silk Road Chapter Sketch

This chapter is part of a travelogue about the author’s journey alon the ancient trade route called ‘Silk Road’ regions as they are now. This account of the Silk Road, with its contrasts and exotic detail, describes the challenges and hardships the author faced while journeying to Mount Kailash on apilgrimage.

Silk Road Class 11 English Chapter 3 Summary

Departure from Ravu The author left Ravu along with Daniel, an interpreter, and Tsetan, a tourist guide. Before
leaving, Lhamo, the lady who had provided them accommodation at Ravu, gave the author a gift of a long-sleeved sheepskin coat, as they were going to Mount Kailash where it would be very cold. Tsetan knew a short cut to reach the mountain. He added that the journey would be smooth if there was no snow.

Drokbas and Encounter with Tibetan Mastiffs

As they crossed the hills of Ravu, they saw open plains, and arid pastures. As they started climbing the hills again, they saw individual drokbas (nomad shepherds) looking after their flocks. Both men and women were seen wearing thick woollen clothes. They would stop and stare at their car, sometimes waving to them as they passed.

On their journey, they also passed isolated nomad tents. These tents were guarded by black dogs called Tibetan Mastiff. These dogs wore red collars and barked furiously with their big jaws. Whenever their car passed through, they would chase the car for some distance while barking furiously. Because of their nature, these dogs were popular in China as hunting dogs and they were brought along from Tibet on the Silk Road as a tribute.

Ice Blocks the Road

By now, the author could see the snow capped mountains. Their car entered a valley wherein the river was wide and clogged with ice. The turns were now more sharper and the ride became bumpier. As they were climbing up, the author started feeling pressure in his ears. Suddenly, Tsetan stopped the car and got out of it. Snow was covering the area around them. They now could not move around the snow patch or could climb the steep mountain. So, they threw some dirt on the path. To avoid any mishap, the author and Daniel stayed out of the car while Tsetan slowly drove over the ice patch.

They came across a similar blockage in a short while. But this time Tsetan drove around the snow. Rapid ascent had caused a headache to the author who checked his watch to find that they were at the height of 5400 metres. When they reached the top of the pass at 5515 metres, Tsetan unscrewed the top of the car. He was glad that there was no smoking.

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Back on the Highway

After making sure that their car was fine, they went down the other side of the pass. At 2’oclock, they had lunch at a place which unlike other places was full of activity. Salt collectors were coming from the plateau that was full of salt flats. By late afternoon, the author reached Hor, a place that falls on the old trade route from Lhasa to Kashmir. Daniel had togo to Lhasa so he left. Tsetan and the author got the punctured tyres repaired and moved forward on their journey.

Hor-a Miserable Town

The author finds Hor, a town that was located on the shore of holy lake Mansarovar, to be grim and miserable. It had no vegetation and was covered in just dust and rocks. The author now could see Mount Kailash and was eager to move ahead.

However, Tsetan left the author to drink tea for some time. For this solitary time, the author felt his experience at Hor to be in contrast with the emotional outburst of other people.

The Author’s Mysterious Experience

It was 10:30 pm when the author reached Darchen. At night, they stayed in a guest house. As the author went down to sleep, his nostrils got clogged. His cold had reappeared and he had trouble breathing. So, the author started breathing from his mouth. When the author felt comfortable and was drifting off to sleep, he woke up. Mysteriously, whenever he laid down to sleep, he could not breathe. He felt that he was not allowed to go to sleep and that if he did, he would die.

The next day Tsetan took the author to the Darchen Medical College. The doctor told him it was just the cold and the altitude which were giving him trouble. He gave him some medicine and that night, after taking one full day course of medicine, the author was able to sleep well.

Tsetan left the author in Darchen and returned to Lhasa. When the author informed him of his experience, Tsetan told him that it didn’t really matter if the author died but it would be bad for his business.


Darchen, although dusty, was surrounded by a picture squescene of the Himalayas. It also had some general stores and cafes and was full of people. For the author, it was a relaxed place but there were no pilgrims there.

The author was told that during pilgrimage season, the town was full of tourists. The author had felt that he would reach at the beginning of the season but was infact early.

One day while drinking tea, the author thought about his pilgrimage. He did not want to do the Kora alone for the fear of ice even though, he could see the pilgrimage alone. He also did not find anyone to clear his doubts.

Meeting Norbu

The author finally found someone to accompany him on his Kora. The author was reading a book in a cafe when Norbu sat with him. Norbu spoke English and so they started a conversation.

Norbu was a Tibetan who worked in Beijing at the Chinese Academy of Social Science in the Institute of Ethnic
Literature. He was writing academic papers on Kora and had come to do it himself for the first time. It was he who gave the idea of them being a team. He suggested that they could hire Yaks to carry their luggage while they did their Kora.

Word Meanings

The given page numbers correspond to the pages in the prescribed NCERT textbook.

Page 74
French loaves thin loaf of French bread commonly made from
basic lean doughducking back quickly going inside
kora pilgrimage (in Tibetan language)
drokba nomad shepherd (here it means, “You look like a
nomad shepherd.”)
Changtang plateau in Western Tibet
gazelles small antelopes
Page 75
kyang wild asses
pall cloud
en masse together
manoeuvres exercises involving a large number of animals
billowedswelled out and went
mastiff large and strong breed of dog
Page 76
tributepayment for tax
clogged jammed
meanders winding curves or bends of the river
daubed spread on the surface
snorted made a loud sound by forcing breath through a nostril
swathelong strip
petered outgradually came to an end
wristwatch a watch having an altimeter eworn on the wrist

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