Mostafa Kamal Majumder
It was a partially cloudy afternoon at the Nepali resort of Nagarkot where I along with more than a dozen men associated with the Panos institute South Asia stayed for several nights doing a workshop. Sponsors were from Panos North East India. Tourists coming to this resort without fail try to have a glimpse of the Everest which becomes visible if the sky is clear. My hotel room was east facing and suitable for stretching eyes towards the direction of the Everest Mount which is located at 143 kilometres away. Everest is seen only on a clear day from a viewing tower which is located at the highest point in Nagarkot. It is around 5 km from the Nagarkot Bus stop in the South. Hotel managers said the Everest was visible also from there. Everything time I was in the room I folded the window-screen to have a view of the mountains that fill the horizon. I had been to Nagarkot, lying at an elevation of 7,136 feet, at least four times before, but never stayed in its beautiful hotels built on a mount at that elevation above the sea level.
The tourist guidebook at the hotel room said, Nagarkot was an important fort and formed the first line of defence against invaders coming from the northeast in olden days. It has now been transformed into a tourist resort. Tourist guidebooks say, Nagarkot is a village in central Nepal, at the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. It’s known for its views of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest to the northeast, which are especially striking at sunrise and sunset. The surrounding scrubland is laced with trails and home to many butterflies. To the west is the ancient, pagoda-style Changunarayan Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and a Hindu pilgrimage site.
That evening I observed what I had never seen before. The clouds that were suspended on the air came down gently and settled on the mounts like heaps of cotton. They rest on the mounts for the night and go up again when the sun rises the next morning. The Sun set on the western horizon but its rays were still illuminating the nearby mounts. As the clouds were gently but majestically settling on the nearby mounts suddenly a bright white coloured mount came into my view. I was wondering if this snow-covered mount was the Everest. Visibility of the mount cleared more with more clouds coming down. After another fifteen minutes, another sharp-pointed snow-capped mount emerged on its far left. I was telling myself a local guide familiar with these mounts would have been very useful at that point time to identify the two, neither of which had the shape of the Everest. But their bright presence early in the evening thrilled me. I saw snow-capped mounts right from Hotel Himalaya in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. When they emerge from clouds under bright sunshine they seem not very far away. Nepali people tell us the snow-capped mounts that are sometimes visible from Kathmandu are tens of kilometres away. Our bare eyes cannot determine the distance.
As clouds kept coming down gradually, there emerged a not so sharp-pointed much larger mount far away from the two others seen by me in about half an hour before. It was seen at the middle of those two relatively sharp-pointed mounts. The large majestic Mount had long slopes from the peak on both sides. It looked less bright than the other two. It seemed to be taller, but as the two other mounts were nearer they looked more or less of the same height with the big one in the middle marginally hig
her. Was the mount seen in a distance the Everest? I asked myself. I subsequently confirmed by seeing a tourist postcard in which the three mounts were snapped together, that the larger mount was unmistakably the Everest. I thanked God this sight was the epic part of my visits to the Himalayan nation of Nepal for about a dozen times.