Nepal and the Pax Britannica
LORD Curzon's appointment as Viceroy of India in January 1899 heralded an important change in the government of India's policy in the Himalayan area. Previously, the British, in their relations with Tibet, had usually used the Peking government as intermediary. China's inability, however, to impress upon Lhasa the necessity of observing the various Sino-British agreements in regard to Tibet, and the political revolution in Tibet that followed the Dalai Lama's seizure of power in 1895, convinced Curzon of the necessity of dealing directly with the Tibetan authorities, even at the price of antagonizing Peking, whose sensitivity on this question previous British governments had felt it expedient to placate.
The decision to negotiate directly with Lhasa raised the question of the channel of communication between India and Tibet, since the Lhasa authorities had repeatedly refused to correspond directly with the British. Curzon contemplated using the Nepal government for this purpose. He hinted strongly to Bir Shamsher on one occasion that he would appreciate an invitation to visit Kathmandu so that, as he wrote a friend, he "might endeavour to get the Nepalese Government to allow a party to attack Mount Everest."1 The significance of a British "mountaineering" expedition to the Nepal-Tibet border was as obvious as the political and international implications of a visit to Kathmandu by Curzon. Bir Shamsher proved "unexpectedly obdurate," however, and went____________________