My visit to Darjeeling and the vision of Kanchenganga evoked unforgettable feelings...
|I will never forget the incident.
We were in Darjeeling. Daybreak is quite early here because the place is more to the eastern longitudes than in Goa where I live.
It was 4 am when the alarm went off. We hurried through the morning chores and set out to catch the cab which took us to the Tiger Hills. Not a single visitor except possibly the sick one was rolling in bed on that pink morning, in Darjeeling.
Tiger Hills is a point from where we see the first rays of the rising sun, illuminate the great Kanchengaga, the second highest peak of the tallest mountain range in the world.As usual, we arrived a bit late on the scene. The vantage points were already occupied by early birds. After all it would be silly if someone would miss the spectacular sight of a rising sun and an equally astonishing appearance of the great Kanchanjunga, having come all the way to this hill station in the state of West Bengal of India.
But it is not the tea I want to write about; It is the spectacle which was soon to make its appearance before us.
Hot tea and hot coffee was being served around by the pretty girls of the hills, for quite a cost. Every one sipping the hot liquids to keep warm in the early morning hill station chill. The hills were as far as we could see, blue layer over another blue layer fading in the thin overlaid mist and finally disappearing over the curvature of the earth, maybe across Nepal.
Time was gradually ticking away stepping up expectations with every tick. Everyone was new there like us and so everyone kept guessing how it would be, from where the sun would rise, when, and what one would feel on seeing it finally happen.
After making everyone wait for an eternity, finally it happened. A thin bright orange slice emerged from the horizon of eastern veil of mist. "There! There!", the excite shouts went up. Thousands of cameras flashed, to catch the moment, making pathetic attempts to illuminate the one who illuminates the entire universe.
Fathers took their children on their shoulders to have a better view. The children half dragged out from sleep kept looking in the directions pointed at by their daddies and mummies, hardly knowing what it was all about. Everyone busied oneself in explaining things which one understood, to the immediate neighbor. There were understanding nods, and further discussions in such a tone that befitted the serene atmosphere of the cool morning.
People from rear lines began pushing out through the line of lucky ones before them, trying to take a closer look at the Sun. A few inches made no difference for the spectator or the spectacle, the spectacle being millions of miles away from both the front and the rear lines of the admirers.. But curiosity had an upper hand and rationality took a dip on that morning on Tiger Hills. Luckily there were no brawls, as very soon, everyone realized, with disappointment, that it was the same sun they were used to seeing all these years, everywhere!
And then when everyone had given up the hope of seeing something super-normal at Tiger Hill that morning and were making moves to disperse, someone said with ecstasy, "There, to your left. Look there!"
...and it was there! The spectacle all were waiting for, was there for everyone to see! So much heard, so much imagined, now taking shape. First a thin beige outline against a misty blue sky, not so clear, but yet there! and then, as the Sun slowly rose, more and more of the Kanchenganga effulged on the vast horizon hitherto a veil of grayish mist. The outlines of peaks and shadows of valleys gradually emerged, one in more details than the first. The color quickly changed from a light beige to a crispy shade of coral red and then, plain orange.
The vast range of folded mountain peaks, with one common name Kanchenganga, remained up above us, suspended without support in sky, where perhaps gods live in Hindu imagination. That was glorious homestead really fit for gods, if gods exist. Every body unknowingly went into a quiet and tranquil state as if one was seeing a divine event. Silence reigned for some time.
Then it was full daybreak. The entire Himalayan Mountain Range came into visibility sphere in full light, the snow caps now looking as white as snow itself. The sun had risen well above the horizon. Pink shades of sunrisedescended further down southwards, into the Indo-Gangetic plains of North India. We began our return journey.
The car went winding down. Down, down, down, down, rapidly making us feel significant ourselves, as the we approached closer and closer to ground levels. Sense of remoteness began waning gradually with every turn and descent. Suddenly I felt some magnificent presence accompanying us. I looked out and up... and then cried out to my daughter on the rear seat, "Look out, look out. Kanchenganga!"
She looked out and saw nothing. So she said! I asked her look out and up.
"Oh!", she exclaimed spontaneously. The great Kanchenganga was there, suspended high above over clouds in full glory, imperial, imposing and majestic, making us feel so small and insignificant once again. ...and she had thought, it was the empty sky above the clouds, as usual!
I felt a swelling and a surge in my heart at the most divine presence ever in my experience!
I will never forget this vision!