11th century

Milarepa (1040-1123) "opened" Lapchi (la phyi) and spent years there and at Kailash, see Shabkar p. 443

12th century

Drigung Jigten Gonpo (1143-1217) sent hermits to three holy mountains in southern Tibet: Kailash, Lapchi, Tsari with an administrator (Dordzin) as representative of Drigung Monastery to oversee them, see Shabkar 343

13th century

1213-1221 Drukpa Kagyu lama Gyelwa Gotsangpa opened Kailash as a sacred site, see Shabkar p. 346
1245 Italian Franciscan John of Plano Carpini & Polish Franciscan Brother Benedict sent as Papal envoys to Mongol court
1247 John of Plano Carpini wrote Historia Mongolorum, textbook cultural history of Mongol Empire; included first European description of Chinese
1253 Flemish Franciscan William of Rubruck and Italian Franciscan Barolomeo of Cremona left as missionaries to Mongol court
1255 William of Rubruck, letter addressed to the missionary and military interests of his patron, crusader King Louis IX, map of route to Mongolia
1270s Turkic, Uighur or Onggut (Mongol) Nestorian monks Rabban Sauma and Rabban Mark set out from Mongolia on pilgrimage to Jerusalem
1275 Marco Polo arrived in Shangdu (Xanadu), summer palace of Qubilai Khan, stayed seventeen years (to 1292), map of route
1287-88 Rabban Sauma sent to Europe with two Italians as (Il-khanate) Mongol representative, reached Rome and Genoa
1295 Marco Polo returned to Venice
1298 Marco Polo started to write his book with assistance in prison in Genoa, addressed himself to broad readership to entertain

14th century

1320 c. Italian Franciscan Odoric of Pordenone (d. 1331) left for east, traveled by sea through SE Asia, lived at Khan's court for three years; wrote popular account including his travels to Tibet, though these are universally suspect
1366 Book of John Mandeville first circulated, geographical romance of uncertain provenance (based entirely on earlier sources); circulated widely
1366 Gödemchen (1337-1409) wrote the first pilgrimage guide to mention the hidden land (beyul) of Sikkim (now between Nepal and Bhutan) and many other places to direct Tibetans in how to survive the civil war that followed the collapse of Mongol rule (see Hamid Sardar, Harvard dissertation 2001)

15th century

1430s(?) Ratna Lingpa (1403-1479), treasure discover, made prediction regarding Sikkim as a place of pilgrimage
1490s (?)Tsang Nyon Heruka (1452-1507) founded a retreat center at Kailash, see Shabkar p. 346

16th century

1533 Sherpas (eastern Tibetans who moved from Kham to southern Tibet in 1480) cross south of Himalayas into Khumbu (now Nepal)
1540 Society of Jesuits established to convert "infidels" overseas
1553 Sherpas settle in Solu (now Nepal)
1556 Domincan Gaspar da Cruz in Canton China (wrote of conversion opportunities)
1578 Gelukpa lama Sonam Gyatso (Dalai Lama) met with Mongol, Altan Khan; established monasteries in eastern Tibet, start of Gelukpa rise to power
1579 Taklung lama Kunga Trashi met with Mongol, Altan Khan
1580 Jesuits open mission at Mohgul court, India
1583 Jesuit Matteo Ricci opened 1st Jesuit mission in Macao
1585-6 Gelukpa lama Sonam Gyatso (Dalai Lama) conducted missionary work among Ordos, Tumed, Khorchin Mongols (near Beijing)
1595 Matteo Ricci opened mission in Nanjing

17th century

1601 Matteo Ricci allowed to live in Beijing (died 1610)
1604 Gelukpa Lama Yonden Gyatso (fourth Dalai Lama, ethnic Mongol) sent lama to Mongols1337-1409)
1604 First Geluk philosophy college established among Mongols of Amdo, start of spread of such schools all over Mongol territory
1624 Jesuit missionaries Andrade and Marques travel to Guge Kingdom in western Tibet, welcomed to establish mission; Andrade made comparative analysis of Christianity and Buddhism (see Hedin Trans-Himalaya, vol III, p. 305-308)(mission weakened 1630 with Andrade's departure and Ladakhi king's attack on kingdom in 1633; mission disrupted by 1630, ended 1635)
1625 Andrade, Marques and Gonzales established church with Guge King's support in Tsaparang, branch in Rutok
1626 Chahar Mongol Legdan Khan sponsored imperial Mahakala temple complex
1627 Portugese Jesuits Cabral and Cacella entered Bhutan, on to Shigatse, leave 1628; Cabral returned 1631-1632 (mission ended 1632?)
1628-9 Chahar Mongol Legdan Khan sponsors translation of Tibetan Buddhist canon
1630 Manchu Hong taiji built stupa to honor his Tibetan Buddhist teacher as “The Great Lama Master of the Great Jin”
1631 Jesuit Azevado went to Leh, capital of Ladakh to plead case of Guge mission (1st western visit to Ladakh)
1635 Harvard College founded to teach, among other goals, American Indians Christian religion
1638 Manchu Hongtaiji of the Qing dynasty built “Real Victory” Temple
1642 Mongol Gushri khan established control of Tibet with fifth Dalai Lama
1642 First king of Sikkim consecrated there
1640s Manchu Qing emperor Shunzhi communicated with fifth Dalai Lama
1644 Manchu Qing empire established control of north China, capital in Beijing
1644 British East India Company took interest in Tibetan borax (MacGregor, 116)
1649-50 Shunzhi emperor ennobled Ordos Mongols as vassals
1651 Shunzhi emperor donated 10,000 coins, built Yellow Temple in Beijing for fifth Dalai Lama
1652 Gelukpa Ngakwang Lobzang Gyatso (Fifth Dalai Lama) headed to Beijing
1653 Fifth Dalai Lama reached Beijing (heard of Jesuit Adam Schall there)
1658 German Jesuit John Grueber arrived in Beijing to work with Schall, got geographic and survey training for trip home
1659-69 Dominican Domingo Navarette lived in China
1660 Belgian Jesuit Albert D'Orville arrived in Beijing to work with Schall and Grueber
1661 Jesuits Grueber and D'Orville reached Lhasa from China pioneering land route back to Rome (for Grueber's letters: see Thomas Astley, New General Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol . IV (London 1747), p. 457-462.
1667 Sherpas found first temple at Pangboche
1680s Armenian merchant Hovhannes Joughayetsi. Traveled to Tibet, lived five years in Lhasa, and left a ledger of his commercial activities. Read the bibliography.
1690s [The sacred site, Tib. Né] Pemakö [gnas padma bkod] explored and announced by Taksham Nulen Dorjé (b. 1655) a Nyingma lama from Kham who settled in Powo [spo bo]

18th century

1708 Capuchin monks found mission in Lhasa
1708 Jesuit-trained lamas collect geographic information about Tibet for Qing mapping project
1713-1716 Italian Franciscan Giovanni Battista Maoletti de Serravalle (1669-1725) lived in Liangzhou, Xining and Topa; made map of Kokonor
1715 Italian Jesuit, Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733), went to Tibet with Manuel Freyre, via Kashmir, Ladakh, Kailas; arrived in Lhasa 1716. Freyre left soon, but Desideri stayed until 1721, when he left because the Lhasa mission had been allocated to the Capuchins
1720 Sherpas found temple in Solu
1724 Capuchins build church in Lhasa
1725 Capuchin Francisco Orazio della Penna took over as mission head in Lhasa, after living there since at least 1723, stayed until 1733 when mission closed
1728 Dutch adventurer and scholar Samuel Van de Putte passed through Lhasa on his way to China (returned via Lhasa 1730), but later had all his records burned
1741 Capuchins under Orazio della Penna return to Lhasa to reopen mission (one among them, Cassiano Beligatti de Macerata painted watercolors that survive), but left Tibet for good in 1745
1757 British East India Company domination of India commences (strong in the region since 1612)
1760s Gurkhas take over Nepal, cutting easy trade links between Bengal and Tibet (boosting routes to west--Mustang, Ladakh, and east--Sikkim, Bhutan)
1768 Directors of East India Company investigate possibility of selling cloth to Tibetans
1774 George Bogle dispatched from India in response to letter from Panchen Lama, led by Hindu trading pilgrim Purungir Gosain, welcomed at Shigatse, left 1775
1783 Captain Samuel Turner (1749-1802) led a one-year mission, including Dr. Robert Saunders, to the reincarnated Panchen (Teshoo=Tashi) Lama by way of Bhutan (Bootan), returned that same year and published the first English language account of travels in Tibet, which extols the admirable characteristics of the Tibetan people.
1788 Purungir Gosain travels to Kailash; Prânpooree Gosain arrives in Tibet after traveling from India, to Constantinople, Moscow & Beijing.

19th century

1800s? The eighth Gyelwang Drukpa Kunzik Chokyi Nangwa (1768-1822) wrote a guidebook to Tsari mountain and gorges (tsA ri'i gnas bshad), see Shabkar p. 267
1881 British East India Company employee Thomas Manning (1772-1840) went to Tibet to try to get to China, stayed from November to May
1811-1813 Non-sectarian lama Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdröl (1781-1851) lived in the Ravines of Tsari, which saw a huge influx of pilgrims at the new year in 1812
1812 British Indian civil servant Moorcroft and Bengalese infantry officer's son Hyder Jung Hearsey go to Kailash disguised as Indian fakirs
1813-1814 Shabkar lived at Mount Kailash at a time when pilgrimage was active
1819-1822 Shabkar lived at the foot of the glacier Lapchi
1819-1825 Moorcroft and British East India Company geologist George Trebeck explored Ladakh, Baltistan, etc. before being killed in Central Asia (British apparently stopped sending white explorers into Tibet and Central Asia after their deaths)
1823 Great Trigonometrical Survey of India started under Sir Everest
1826-1841 Moorcroft said (by Tibetans, see Huc's account) to have lived in disguise as Kashmiri for 12 years in Lhasa, killed in Ngari and papers discovered then
1840-1880s Khampa Rime Lama Jamyang khyentse (1820-1892) traveled extensively around Central Tibet, wrote guide 1892
1844 French Lazarist missionaries Evarist Huc & Joesph Gabet, having learned Chinese, lived in Inner Mongolia and learned Mongolian to enable travel to Tibet
1845-6 British Lieutenants of the Bengal Native Infantry Henry & brother Richard Strachey went to Kailash
1845 Huc and Gabet lived in Kumbum monastery, Amdo
1846 Huc & Gabet lived in Lhasa for two months (through the western, Chinese, and Tibetan new years) before being expelled by Qing amban Qishan
1850-1 Mrs. Hervey travelled through the Himalayas. She returned to England by the summer of 1852 and published her travel accounts (3 volumes) in 1853, The Adventures of a Lady in Tartary, Thibet, China & Kashmir.
1854-1864 French Society of Foreign Missions, which was given responsibility for Tibet in 1846, established mission under Renou (who had studied Tibetan since 1852) at Bonga near Yunnan border, 1864 forced to withdraw back across border into Yunnan; Desgodins was important later missionary there
1855 German "scientific researchers" Herman, Adolf and Robert Schlanginwiet traveled in "third Tibet" (Balti, Spiti, Ladakh & Ngari), published account 1872
1856 German Moravian missionaries established station in Kyelang (Lahul)
1862 Great Trigonometrical Survey of India completed and highest mountain named after Sir Everest
1862 Emil Schlagintweit published Buddhism in Tibet based on his brothers' research there and all available literature of the period
1863-5 Bengal Army engineer T. C. Montgomerie created "pundit" school and trained native Bhutia (Nepalese ethnic Tibetans) Nain and Mani Singh to map Tibet
1865-1904 Female Lama Jetsun Lochen Rinpoche (1865-1951) on pilgrimage to sacred sites, often with Shabkar disciple
1865 "Pundit" Nain Singh started first journey (of 1,200 miles), disguised as Ladakhi, visited Shigatse, Lhasa, and back via Kailash
1865 German Moravian missionaries established station in Poo (Kinnaur)
1867 "Pundit" Nain Singh started second journey to Western Tibet, especially the rich 19th century gold fields of Tokja lung near Gartok
1857 Orgyen Chokgyur Lingpa (1829-1870) discovers the first text listing the Twenty-five Great Sites of Khams
1857-1859 Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé (1813-1899) traveled to Central Tibet
1868 Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé (aka Padma Garwang Lodrö Tayé) wrote A short, Brief Clarification of the List of the Twenty-five Great Sites of Khams Together with Their Auxiliaries.
1870-1872 Russian explorer Nicholas Prejevalsky (Przheval’skii )'s first journey; made it to Koko-nor and Tsaidam
1872 "Pundit" Rai Bahadur Kishen Singh (aka Krishna or A-K) planned to map route to Koko-nor, but turned back at Tengri-nor just north of Lhasa
1878-1882 "Pundit" Rai Bahadur Kishen Singh (aka Krishna or A-K), lived in Lhasa for a year, took caravan north to Tsaidam, then south through Kham to Batang and back along the Tsangpo River to India, map of route
1879-1880 Russian explorer Nicholas Prejevalsky with Agwan Dorjieff (Ngakwang Dorje) traveled through Amdo to the frontier of Central Tibet, wrote book about his travels
1878 Bengali "Pundit" and Tibetologist Sarat Chandra Das (1849-1917) successfully petitioned Tashi (Panchen) Lama for permission to visit and stayed six months
1880-1884 "Pundit" Kintup (aka K-P) joined with Mongol lama to explore the Tsangpo River and make it to as far as Pemakö
1884-1885 Prejevalsky's third trip to Tibet, reported on in his book of 1888
1885 German Moravian missionaries established station in Leh (Ladakh)
1885 The multinational China Inland Mission established mission in Xining, Gansu (later became Qinghai)
1888-9, 1891, 1892. William Woodville Rockhill travels to Tibet (after studying Tibetan for 4 years in Beijing), later writes several accounts of travels; 1888-1889 trip map
1892 William Woodville Rockhill traveled to Tibet, as recorded in his Explorations in Mongolia and Tibet.
1889 Isabelle Bird travels to Ladakh & Nubra (see map), later writes account of travels
1890s-1904 British Colonial officer Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Austine Waddell (1854-1938) lived in Sikkim and traveled to Tibet with 1904 British invasion
1892 Jamyang khyentse (1820-1892) wrote Short Summary of the Pure Names of Some of the Holy Places and Images of Dbus and Gtsang (Central Tibet), based on his pilgrimages there from 1840 on
1892 English Protestant missionary Annie Taylor in Tibet, described in her account: Pioneering in Tibet
1895-1898 Canadian Protestant missionary Dr. Susie C. Rijnhart (1868-1908) in Kumbum near Xining, attempt to reach Tibet and death of her husband and child described in her account: With the Tibetans in tent and temple
1895 U.S.-based Christian and Missionary Alliance established contacts with Tibetans from mission base in Taozhou, Gansu (Robert Ekvall part of this mission)
1897 Arnold Henry Savage Landor enters Western Tibet, and imprisoned, described in In the forbidden land
1899-1922 Norwegian Protestant missionary Theordor Sörenson at Daqianlu (Dartsedo), at a branch of the China Inland Mission

20th century

1896-1908 Moravian missionary A. H. Franke lived in Ladakh and wrote extensively about the culture and history
1901-1903 Japanese Buddhist monk Ekai Kawaguchi, experiences recounted in: Three years in Tibet.
1901 Drigung lama, Konchok Tendzin Chokyi Lodro (1829-1906) wrote guidebook to Lapchi Glacier (la phyi gnas yig), see Shabkar p. 442
1902 Drigung lama, Konchok Tendzin Chokyi Lodro (1829-1906) wrote guidebook to Mount Kailash (gangs ti se gnas bshad), see Shabkar p. 343
1903 Australian Protestant missionary James Huston Edgar visited Batang, Kham
1900s Bhagwan Shri Hamsa traveled to Mount Kailash
1904-1922 American Protestant missionary Flora Beale Shelton lived in Kham (mostly Batang) with her husband, Dr. Albert LeRoy Shelton; wrote Sunshine and shadow on the Tibetan border in 1912
1908 History of Sikkim written by 9th Chogyal of Sikkim, Tutop Namgyel (1860-1914) and his queen Maharani Yeshe Drolma
1912-1926 Moravian medical missionaries A. Reeve and Kathleen Heber lived in Ladakh, described in In Himalayan Tibet (1926)
1914-1916 French Buddhist adventurer Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) lived in Sikkim before traveling to Shigatse to meet the Panchen Lama in 1916
1918-1920 Kamapa Kagyu lama Kathok Situ Chokyi gyatso (1880-1925) traveled to Central Tibet; later wrote detailed pilgrimage guide noting Chinese & British invasions' impact on Tibetan pilgrimage sites; later, his student Jamyang Chokyi lodro (1893-1959) wrote a more detailed guide to Central Tibet & Nepal
1922-1936 Australian Protestant missionary James Huston Edgar and his wife lived in Daqianlu (Dartsedo), at a branch of the China Inland Mission
1924 Alexandra David-Néel traveled from Amdo to Lhasa

Sources: Much of the chronology dealing with Western travelers to Tibet is drawn from John MacGregor, Tibet: a chronicle of exploration. London. 1970.
Much of the chronology of missionary work in 19th-20th century Tibet is drawn from John Bray, "Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Missionary Images of Tibet." In Imagining Tibet : perceptions, projections, & fantasies. edited by Thierry Dodin & Heinz Räther. Boston : Wisdom Publications, 2001. 21-46.
Much of the information about pilgrimage sites in Tibet was drawn from: Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol; Matthieu Ricard, Constance Wilkinson, and Michal Abrams, trans. The life of Shabkar: the autobiography of a Tibetan yogin, 1994.