To watch the famed Sunrise from the Tiger Hill, we hired the car which we had hired the previous day for our trip to the Darjeeling Zoo and the Rock Gardens. The driver was demanding Rs. 1500 but thanks to our half hour of negotiating that he had agreed to take us for just Rs. 800. To compensate for his loss, he wanted to accommodate people who would wait for public transport; and we agreed. Tiger hill lies 11 km from Darjeeling and is at an elevation of 2590 metres. It has a panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjunga as well as Mount Everest. At sunrise, the peaks of Mount Kangchenjunga are illuminated well before actual sunrise.
It was February 11, 2018 and we woke up at 3:30 in the morning. We left our hotel at 4 o’ clock and found that our driver had parked the car just outside the hotel entrance. It was very cold and we were shivering like anything. As we entered the car, we saw two girls sitting on the front seat. I said “Hello, where are you from?” “From Kolkata” said one of them and fell silent. Finding that the girls were not at all friendly and were preoccupied with their chitter-chatter, we fell into a light slumber as we continued our ascent towards the Tiger Hill. The city and the outskirts looked abandoned in the wee hours of the morning and we thought we were lucky to have made it sooner than everyone else.
Sunrise from Tiger Hill- Enthusiasts Gear Up For The Best View Ever
As we neared the Tiger Hill, we could sense the hundreds of vehicles; small and big, ahead of us. Numerous cars had jammed the road leading up to the view point and there was very little walking space for pedestrians. When we reached a point driving beyond which was not possible, our driver asked us to get down and walk up to the Tiger Hill observatory. He told us that he would park the car beside a temple that stood nearby.
When we got down the car and stepped into the chaotic road, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who had come to watch sunrise from the Tiger Hill. After walking a few hundred metres, we saw the crowd take two different routes; one, that kept walking straight and the other that took a turn, supposedly a shortcut. We heard a local guide leading a group of foreigners say, “Let’s take this turn, we will reach sooner than the others.” We walked behind them and through dark and narrow alleys, reached the viewpoint on the Tiger Hill.
Sunrise from Tiger Hill- The Misty Hills Nearby
I had watched many YouTube videos about Tiger Hill and it looked quite spacious but now they were building a viewing stand in the centre that took up most of the space. It was actually the old observatory which they were reconstructing. On three sides was empty space. People stood wherever they wanted. Most people stood on the empty space that separated the building from the edge of the hill. To find a suitable spot for ourselves, we stood at an elevated height inside the under construction building. In no time we could see the crowd grow in size by leaps and bounds and there were no less than a thousand people present on that day to view the most significant sunrise of their lives. Towards the right from where people stood was the sunrise point and towards the left were the lofty mountain peaks.
Sunrise from Tiger Hill- The Lofty Mountain Peaks
We stood there, our eyes fixed towards the east. The moon was still up in the sky, shining in its full glory and the sun seemed far from horizon. With every passing minute, the sky started to change its colors. It was the red glow that had started to appear in the sky and we could see the mountains take shape. After sometime, the sun started coming out and what an incredible feeling it was. People started cheering and there were repeated cheers, the loudest one was when the sun had completely popped up from below the horizon. After sometime we decided to move up the building and photograph the now beautifully lit mountain peaks without any obstruction. It was the majestic sight of the snow clad Kanchenjunga that struck us with awe.
The straight line distance from the Tiger Hill to Mt. Kanchenjunga is 79.8 km and that of Mt. Everest is 174 km. I do not know if I saw the Mount Everest, but Mount Kanchenjunga stood high under the morning sky. The sky was luckily clear on that day and the sight of the stupendous Kanchenjunga was a memory to cherish for a lifetime.
Sunrise from Tiger Hill- The Majestic Mt. Kanchenjunga
Finally, we got up to the roof where very few people were present. The construction seemed to be in full swing. After day break, the crowd started to disperse and we too got down. As we descended the hills, we could see thousands of cars descending as well. After a couple of phone calls, we found our driver and got into the car. On our way back, we visited the Ghoom Monastery and the two girls whom we shared our car with, visited the Batasia Loop. It was just then that our Toy Train tickets got confirmed and we knew we will be visiting the Batasia Loop in a few hour’s time on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
If you want more information about the Tiger Hill, you can find it here.