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The Heart of the World

A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise

Ian Baker


Ian Baker’s memoir of his journey to the long-hidden source of the Shangri-La myth – ‘one of the most extraordinary tales of adventure and discovery ever told’ (San Francisco Chronicle)


The legend of Shangri-La emerged from the Tibetan Buddhist belief in beyul, or hidden lands. Tibetan prophecies proclaim that the greatest of these mythical sanctuaries lies at the eastern edge of the Himalayas, veiled by a colossal waterfall at the heart of the forbidding Tsangpo gorge. After years of research and investigation, Buddhist scholar and world-class climber Ian Baker and his team made worldwide news by reaching the bottom of the Tsangpo gorge and finding a magnificent 108-foot-high waterfall – the legendary grail of both Western explorers and Tibetan seekers.

The Heart of the World recounts one of the most captivating stories of exploration and discovery in recent memory – an extraordinary journey into one of the wildest and most inaccessible places on earth, a meditation on our place in nature, and a pilgrimage to the heart of Tibetan Buddhism.

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'The Heart of the World is among the most complex, compelling and satisfying adventure books I have ever read ... Baker has written one for the ages'
The San Francisco Chronicle

'Up to its chin in physical adventure. Reading the book is itself a big, almost a transcendent, experience'
Adventure Magazine

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 528 pp

Illustrations: 25

Publication date: 4 June 2020

ISBN: 9780500252437

Contents List

New preface by author • Introduction by His Holiness the Dalai Lama • Part I – The Call of the Hidden Lands • Part II – The Gorge • Part III – The Mountain • Part IV – The Waterfall • Epilogue

About the Author

Ian A. Baker is a cultural historian and the author of seven books on Tibetan Buddhism and Himalayan art and culture, including The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple and The Tibetan Art of Healing. He was joint curator of the 2016 exhibition ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple: Body, Mind and Meditation in Tantric Buddhism’ at the Wellcome Collection, London. He leads travel seminars in Tibet and Bhutan and was named by the National Geographic Society as one of the seven ‘Explorers for the Millennium’ for his groundbreaking field research in Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorges.