A MUMMY of a Tibetan Buddhist monk, believed to be about 500 years old, has been found in India's northern Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, the Hindustan Times.com website reported.
It backed up its claim by publishing a picture of a wizened human sitting in a hunched, meditating position draped with a shawl.
The mummy, identified as that of monk Sangha Tenzin, was found inside a tomb at Ghuen village in the cold and remote Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, about 6000 metres above sea level, the report said.
Ghuen villagers have known about the mummy since 1975, when an earthquake struck the region and brought down a part of the tomb, it added.
However due to the remoteness of Ghuen, in a desolate mountainous area close to India's border with China â€“ restricted to the public and under the control of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police â€“ the mummy's existence has remained under wraps.
However, a Hindustan Times staffer managed to get access and took photographs of the mummy, it said.
Victor Mair, a consulting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, was quoted as saying the mummy was at least 500 years old.
According to the report, the mummy is remarkably well preserved for its age. Its skin is unbroken and there is hair on the head.
Mair said this was partly to do with the extreme cold and dry air of the region.
"Slow starvation in the last few months of his life reduced the body fat and shrunk parts of the body that would have been liable to putrefaction."
The report did not say where the mummy is now being kept.
Ghuen village is about 50km from the Tabo monastery, believed to be the oldest surviving Buddhist establishment in the region.
It straddles an ancient trading route through which spices, wool, salt, precious stones and sugar moved between India and Tibet, the report added.