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04 Watch the sun rise on kanchenjunga

Updated on: 11 October,2009 08:50 AM IST  | 
Shamik Bag |

With its enormous spread and piercing reach, the mountain had fooled many for many years

04 Watch the sun rise on kanchenjunga

With its enormous spread and piercing reach, the mountain had fooled many for many years. That was when Mt Kanchenjunga was widely regarded as the world's tallest mountain before Radhanath Sikdar the 'Bengali computer' working for the Great Trigonometrical Survey discovered in 1852 that Peak XV was actually the tallest. Since then among mountain lovers, Mt Everest has commanded the height, but Kanchenjunga maintained its stature. Down in the sultry, sulking plains of Bengal, we are fools for the Kanchenjunga.

As the early morning mist gathers above the green paddy fields of Jalpaiguri, there it glows in the distance a delicate and distant landscape of snow; crowning over the burning plains and seething chaos of Siliguri.
A week later, as we stand at a high altitude balcony, we are fools for the Kanchenjunga still.

Five days of relentless climbing Sikkim's Yuksom has left us with wobbly feet, and and splitting altitude-induced headaches. Both oxygen and motivation to reach Goecha La, the icy mountain pass at the foot of the mountain, got rarer with every step up the sharp, boulder-strewn incline.u00a0

How, if the sun is rising from behind us have we got our shadows trailing us? It's the sun reflecting off the snow on the Kanchenjunga and casting a shadow behind us, we realise.

There we areu00a0 fooled again by the world's third highest peak. For a greater part of that chilly dawn hour, it seemed like we were reliving the script of Satyajit Ray's film Kanchenjungha, where the mountain refuses to show up to a wealthy and bickering Bengali family holidaying in Darjeeling. We wait.

And we are rewarded as the cloud cover gently lowers itself into an abyss and Kanchenjunga spans undisturbed across the immediate horizon.

That very moment, they must have been watching the sight from the Tiger Hill observatory in faraway Darjeeling, from the villages and hill stations in Sikkim and the humid plains of north Bengal. Up here, though, we can only be guests of the moment.u00a0

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