It is the third highest mountain in the world, and the highest in India. Located on the border of Nepal and Sikkim, the name of the mountain range is written in various ways – Kangchenjunga, Kang-cheng-Dzo-nga and Kanchanjanga, among others. It is most commonly called ‘Kanchenjunga’, and it is one of the few mountain ranges so revered that even now, the peak is never scaled, out of respect for local sentiments.
The mountain’s name is said to come from the Tibetan phrase – Five Treasures of the Great Snow. The number refers to the five major peaks, and also to the five actual treasures - Gold, Silver, Gems, Food Grains and Religious Texts.
These ranges are famed for disappearing for days at a stretch, behind clouds, showing no sign of existence, but we were lucky. We had our first sight of the majestic mountain range as we approached Darjeeling…
Over the next few days, as we explored Sikkim, the weather stayed clear, and the mountains watched over us, towering over the region like an omnipresent deity. No wonder the locals revere them!
They are also the biggest draw for tourists in the area, and the most visited places are the points which provide the best view of the ranges. We didn’t go to Tiger Hill in Darjeeling, but managed to the sun rise over the ranges, bathing them in a golden glow, near Baiguney in West Sikkim. I have already written about it here.
Around Gangtok, the best viewpoints also double up as temples, the only ones we visited in the region. The Hanuman Tok is, as the name suggests, a shrine to Hanuman. As at many mountains, it is also believed that he rested here while returning with the Sanjeevani mountain. The shrine is a relatively recent one, with an idol of the God installed in the 1950s by an officer posted here. The view of course, is magnificent….
The other point is Ganesh Tok, which is of course, a temple to Ganesha. This is an even more modern affair, but again, the view is what grabs the most attention.
However, the best view we had of the Kanchenjunga wasn’t from any of these points, but somewhere near the Nathu La pass, when we visited the temple to Baba Harbhajan Singh.
The clouds had begun to set in, and had begun to cover the mountains. Yet, it was an impressive sight. It was here that we could see how the mountains changed as we approached the mighty range, and we finally realized just how lucky we were, that we had seen the mighty sentinels of this region, for over a week, without a single cloud obscuring them!
Here, seeing the mountains so close, and yet so far, so high, almost touching the skies, they did feel divine!