Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
Have you read the prologue to this failed trip to Darjeeling? As promised earlier, our taxi driver Bikram gave a wake-up ring-cut at three in the morning and it took us another one hour to part with our cozy blankets and finally wrap ourselves with needed woolens. Viewing sunrise from Tiger Hill is an experience in itself. In this post I’ll narrate only the sunrise delight of the second day of our failed trip to Darjeeling and the rest of the local sightseeings those followed in the day, starting from Ghoom Monastery to quality tea processing in Rose Valley Tea Estate shall be covered in my subsequent blog posts. Now coming back to much hyped Tiger Hill, it’s about 11 kilometers away from the heart of Darjeeling town and situated at an altitude of almost 2,590 meters. The earlier you start your journey better it is for you, because you’ll be able to win the rat-race for the tickets of VIP lounge in the watch tower there. We literally rushed to keep up with our plan, leaving the dark Ghoom railway station on the way and taking the steep narrow Senchal Road only to find that several other tourist-cabs had already participated in the naked-mile (well, you got to be an American Pie fan to feel the ambiance I'm trying to portray).
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
It was fully dark, so looking for surrounding nature along the route was totally fruitless. As presumed, we couldn’t manage the ticket for the top most tier of the watchtower, so settled with the middle tier tickets. At the top of Tiger Hill it was densely crowded (what’s new eh?) with vehicles and tourists… all from different geographies, in different garments and of course exhibiting varied behaviors… but only two things we all had in common were the urge/excitement of a ‘much heard’ sunrise and the apprehension of a cloudy sky! Yes the weather in Darjeeling is really unpredictable and no weather forecast can guarantee you a breathtaking sunrise experience even in the best of seasons (October-December & March-April).
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
On reaching the middle tier/floor of the observatory tower I found it bitterly unsuitable for any rich sunrise experience as the place was packed with tourists (waiting on chairs). I came down to the less pricey space without wasting any time and made a place for me and my camera among several other thirsty eyes. I kept waiting eagerly for a precious glimpse of Mr Sun while sipping coffee from local hawkers. The sleeping town of Darjeeling lying below us seemed totally indifferent to our struggle for space and collective prayer for a clear sky.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
A crimson hue brushed the starry sky as it transformed its blackness to shades of blue which got lighter with the running clock. Peaks of Kanchenjunga came out of the curtain with a saffron tinge and sun was yet to make his presence. Don’t get hypnotized to those snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga, or while trying to identify which one is Mt Makalu and which one is Everest… because if you get lost to those Eight-thousanders you’ll miss the spectacular sunrise on the other side of the frame and its heavenly reflection on the cloud!
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
At first a pinkish red circle was seen at the level of mountains… but how could it be sun as sun is supposed to come out of the horizon, isn’t so? Yes, you’re right, it was not the sun, but it’s apparition on playful clouds… the physics behind this is not that tough but certainly I’m not in an explosive mood to explain you all that. Soon the sun came out (at 5:45 AM) like a sparkling magical diamond with all his vigor and turned too energetic to capture by my camera sensor. People thanked almighty for the rewarding morning and slowly dispersed as the snowy peaks took up the bright light of the sun losing their crimson softness.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
As I’ve already mentioned, apart from the peaks of Kanchenjunga, Mount Makalu, Mount Everest and Mount Chumal Rhi, in a clear weather you may also be able to spot the town of Kurseong, Teesta River, Mahanadi River, Balason River and Mechi River finding their way down to the south. We finished our complimentary tea and resumed our local sightseeing. Our next destination was Ghoom Monastery which houses a tall statue of Maitreya Buddha and I’ll be talking about it in the following blog post.

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