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Monday, March 18, 2013

Himalaya





Himalaya


Darjeeling
Has its own television station. Mostly it covers Ghorkha political rallies and speeches. There was much unrest here in the 1990s. Many properties were burnt or smashed as the ethnic Ghurkas tried for independence. It was not, is not, forthcoming. Businesses now write Ghorkhaland on their shopfronts to avoid similar attacks. Hindu temples are replaced by Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags.
While radical politician Chavez has just died, outside my window is a rally of Ghorka radicals. A decade ago they were burning and looting shops here. The campaign is for the establishment of a separate Ghorkaland. Men and women and shout and chant with power, commitment. Easy to see how the Ghurka regiment was the most feared in WWII. Pretty awe-inspiring seen from just above them. Watching the flaming torches, listening.

Got a coal fire going here. Not a sight I was anticipating in India. But out of season Darjeeling is numbingly cold.

Last night the young woman, name of Lamu, who runs this hotel, came in and gave me a hot water bottle. Could she be any sweeter?

Kanchenjunja has finally appeared from behind two weeks of mist and cloud. The angle of appreciation, 45 degrees from the horizontal; her height 8591 metres. The third highest mountain in the world. This photo is taken from fully 50 miles away. All the ridges appear on a day like this, Singalila, Tiger Hill, Kabru and Jannu. No sign of Everest. She is deep in a range and hard to pick out. Unless you are a Sherpa.


Kanchenjunga with rhododendrons

 If you like travel and tea-drinking in Darjeeling visit GuerillaZ's sister site Singing Bird below:--

Darjeeling looks like China. So do the people.


The atmosphere here is so very different. As if I am already in China. Buddism is the dominant religion. There are stupas, gompas, prayer flags everywhere. People walk with prayer beads, gently meditating. Tibetan and Chinese food dominates the menus. There is still a month before I touch down in Yunnan province.



Big five-peaked snow fortress
What Kanchenjunga means. Everest is only 250 metres higher. It is possible to filch a glimpse of Everest from near here. But I’m not sure I wish to rise at 3.30 am to get the jeep to the viewing point 12 miles south. Everest or not. 

Atmosphere
Singular. So marked my mother has all but stopped speaking. Everything is shadow, even when the sun is out in the morning. In the evening, the Victorian ghosts come out. And though on a steep mountain ridge 2134 metres up the feeling is subterranean.



Ghurka Children at the railway station

Cheeky Monkey

A Rhesus Macaque monkey keeping watch over the Mahakal Temple

Ghoom
When the share jeep dropped us at Ghoom station I expected the colours outside to fade to black and white. Such was the history painting outside. The design of the Darjeeling Light Railway station British, from the Victorian era.


The streets cramped and frilly with ornate colonial woodwork blasted black by the exhaust from ten thousand three litre jeeps. The world is black and grey in Ghoom frozen in time at something like 1910. The mysterious world of those people within the blackened and sooty rain-lashed houses connected to the narrow gauge railway surviving on the most makeshift running repairs. Ghoom station is the second highest railway station in the world. Behind La Paz, Bolivia.



The future of people here. Unknown. The calmest, happiest place I have ever been.
The people here are half Chinese, half-Indian. The beauty of some of the individuals outlandish, a shock to face-pattern recognition systems. Recurring.




 If you like travel and tea-drinking visit GuerillaZ's sister site Singing Bird below:--

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