“It is enough to say that to see Kanchenjunga and its peers in Darjeeling in the cool of the morning, is to be of the noblest experiences of travel. It is a kind of vision. It has moved generations of pilgrims to mysticism and even more to over writing…, “ wrote Jan Morris the travel writer of repute…
The first highest peak in India, the second highest amongst the Himalayan peaks and the third highest peak in the world…Kanchenjunga reigns supreme not only in numbers but also in legend and lore. Considered to be a sacred peak of worship by the Buddhist, the erstwhile Government of the northeastern state of Sikkim banned expeditions to this peak, “…as a gesture of respect to the religious sentiments of the people who consider it as a deity..,” in the words of the former Chief Minister of the State of Sikkim.
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This mountain was first climbed in the year 1955 by a British expedition, however they stopped short of the summit since a promise had been given to the Chogyal – the King of Sikkim to keep the sanctity of the peak as an abode of the Gods. The name “Kanchenjunga” has been derived from the Tibetan words meaning “the five treasures of the great snow” signifying gold, salt, precious stones, sacred scriptures and the invincible armour. Legend of the Lepchas, the people who live below these ranges believe that the first couple from whom mankind descended was created from the snowy peaks of the Kanchenjunga. Others believe it to be the home of the legendary “Yeti – the Abominable Snowman!” The Kanchenjunga, says the wise men houses a lake of immortality for the devout! Besides its majestic grandeur and being known as one of the most difficult peaks to conquer, Kanchenjunga is always more than just a mountain…..poets have created eloquent lines comparing this mountain to the evolution of man and his self…Jyotiprasad Agarwala in his Assamese poem titled “Kanchenjunga” narrates the intricacies of life, its creation and subsequent changes through destruction of the old order. Satyajit Ray’s first original screenplay, “Kanchenjunga” shot in real-time under the mighty range at Darjeeling is by far the most creative of all his films. He is supposed to have written this screenplay sitting by an open window facing the Kanchenjunga…a piece of dialogue from this film more or less sums up the emotion that this legendary mountain evokes in all humans….
“….Maybe it is this place that has got something to do with it… I have never seen anything like this before. The majestic Himalayas, these silent pine-trees, this strange play of sunlight, clouds and mist. It’s so unreal, almost like a dream state. My head was in a whirl, and everything seemed to change before my eyes. As if I wasn’t myself anymore, as if I was someone special. A hero! A giant! As if I was full of courage…careless…undaunted. And as if no one could stop me anymore….”
P.S : Mark Twain traveled to Darjeeling in 1896 and has written about the Kanchenjunga:
“I was told by a resident that the summit of Kanchenjunga is often hidden in the clouds and that sometimes a tourist has waited twenty-two days and then been obliged to go away without a sight of it. And yet was not disappointed; for when he got his hotel bill he recognized that he was now seeing the highest thing in the Himalayas.”