Sunrise At Kangchenjunga From Tiger Hill

Anwesha Ghosh

Photographs: Author
Category: Featured Travel
Date of Publication: Jun 7 , 2010

It was 2 o'clock and my alarm rang. The last night fatigue still hovering on me I was not quite ready to get up so early in the morning, but then I had the least idea that I would be missing the most beautiful morning of my life. That was the fourth day of our expedition to Darjeeling and the surrounding stations and we were dead tired trekking day in and day out to other places, that too mostly on foot. Actually, we had planned to cover Tiger Hill on the second day of the trip itself but because of the cloudy weather had to postpone the laid plan. Our driver cum guide told us that it would be a waste to go to Tiger Hill on a cloudy day as the sunrise will be obscured and hazy. He advised to visit Tiger Hill two days late instead as by then the cloud would disperse and the famous Tiger Hill sunrise would be most beautiful as the sky will be completely clear. As a native and lifetime visitor of the place we readily followed his advice. So in the forth morning of our trekking we half tired and half enthusiastically went to explore the Mecca of Mountains, Tiger Hill and see the world famous Kangchenjunga sunrise.

sunrise at tiger hill

We left our hotel at 2:30 am, and by the time we reached there it was approximately 3:10 am. Our driver parked behind a fleet of cars that has already reached before us and had to cover the rest on foot. Being mid November, we could feel the chill in the air even under our heavy winter garments. It was not snowing still but we could feel the condensed water on our face, over our jacket and gloves. After sometime we realized that we were walking through the frost under the purple canopy of night. It was only the crowd walking with us shared the heat which kept us from shivering. When we reached there we had to decide whether to head for the top tower or the pavilion. Being early hours the pavilion was still empty, so we decided to select the pavilion as I wished see the sunrise from the edge of the cliff. The first sight disappointed me pretty much. Everything was obfuscating under the shadow of purple. Neither the Kanchenjunga peak nor the great Himalayan mountain range underneath was visible. But then within barely ten minutes or so the sky started picking up rhythm. Slowly Kanchenjenga came to view like a grey phantom and the sky was changing shades from purple to different colors. The entire Tibetain mountain range was underneath, the valleys overlapping itself in layers as far as eyes can take. The slopes were rising and falling like an interlinked chain and the many sleeping towns were camouflaged by the frost that covered it. The view underneath the edge was panoramic juxtaposing the sky above which was vibrantly changing colors now in the many shades of vibgyor. In one word the whole scene appeared to me like a painting from fairy tale book. Enchanting! Amazing!

The aurora was still hiding behind the hills, the yellow and orange shades still to form, the sky was now painting itself with blue, purple, grey, indigo and red. It was still virtually quite dark, and with the strong wind the cold was quite biting. Being winter the sunrise was expected around 5:30 am. The distance summit of Mt. Everest was coming to sight and so was also the entire range of Kanchenjenga. Mt. Malaku (27,799') placed in the middle of the three sisters appeared higher than Mt. Everest (29,000') because of the distance. I was now seeing the three famous sister peaks of the world side by side, little left of the north-west through my binoculars, and just from the opposite direction the sun can peep out any second now.

The sky was taking the colors of red, violet and orange, mingling carelessly like rivulets of water colors, the view itself was bewitching. The colors have already started to play in the Kanchenjanga range, the famous peak yet to be covered. The first shade of orange and yellow formed sometime after 5:00...and we all held our breadth. The entire crowd roared and one of my friends said sun will be any moment now. It was a beautiful moment to discover, as if we were visiting heaven, and standing at the edge I was honestly unconscious of the crowd behind me. Nature has captured me in its many colors, many rhythm.

The whole sky was now brushing strokes of orange and yellow but it was still dark. Suddenly the sun popped up from the eastern horizon, like a small egg yolk. Simultaneously the first aurora got reflected in the snow covered peak of Kanchenjunga like an orange blush. The sight was breathtaking. The whole moment was dazzling, beautiful, enchanting, enthralling or in other words I have no vocabulary to describe it. It was the feeling the dazzling beauty created. The sun was rapidly coming out now turning from a small yolk to a big orange ball, covering more of the summit. I realized that the moment will be over now in matter of seconds. The sky was completely yellow, the blue line slowly forming itself. The towns underneath was becoming visible, I could get the glimpses of Darjeeling spread across but didn't wished to. All I wished was to be captivated by the beauty of the moment then, but that is perhaps the beauty of the moment- they pass away while the moment lingers in the mind. My romantic heart composed a poem in the yellow pages of my dairy -

The shadows of purple merged the earth
The chill frost clad the tears
But as the aurora breaks
And enchant each breathe
The spirit rise to suck the morning sky
The flakes white, the golden light,
The dancing due, the mellowing hue,
The hills beneath, the heaven above,
All spark up to kiss the Eternity at once -
And consummate the soul in its bliss

- Anwesha Ghosh

By 5:50 am the sun was above the horizon, the sky blue now, the peaks clear, the eternal moment touched us and went like a soft feather. All of us then had a cup of coffee from a local native girl and then spent minutes there alone when the whole crowd has already dispersed to visit other locations. After all ours was not just another travel trip but trekking trip, out there to feel the nature, to share it and understand it, and just any pragmatic view wont suffice us. While coming down we preferred to walk for a few distance instead of coming straight down by car. If u want to explore nature, explore it as it is and not by changing it.

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