Rai Bahadur Lal Singh

Rai Bahadur Lal Singh

When “The Great Game” (political aspiration to control Central Asia) was being played in Central Asia between political powers of Britain, France and Russia, it was Sir Aurel Stein (1862 – 1943) a Hungarian adventurer, who led an expedition to Taklamakan desert (present day Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomus Region of China).  Prior to this it was believed that entry into Taklamakan was a one way road. Enter at your own risk and don’t expect to return. Rai Bahadur Lal Singh (1860 – 1930), a Sikh cartographer accompanied Aurel Stein as his key confidant in the expedition set out to confirm the theories about rich past of the Silk route (connecting China with Central Asia). Rai Bahadur Lal Singh’s motivation in this expedition was to map the remote Taklamakan territories.


Rai Bahadur Lal Singh - Photo 3


The expedition was successful in discovering many Buddhist paintings and sculptures. Amongst these were the 100 wooden tablets of 105BC, written in ancient Indian script bearing Indian seals. The most noteworthy discovery was “The Caves of Thousand Buddhas at Dunhuamg”. The artifacts were contributed to Britsih Museum and later split across the museums in Britain, India and Hungary.


Sir Aurel Stein's Taklamakan expedition 


While the Chinese government views Aurel Stein’s expedition