I’ve seen more sunsets than sunrises in Delhi. Actually, I have never got up early just to see the sunrise. The Delhi heat keeps you awake late into the night and you get up just in time for work. But in the mountains, you simply have to wake up to the stunning sunrises. The first glimpse of the golden horizon could make your day. I've been in the mountains for almost a fortnight and more than half the time I have got up early enough to catch the sunrise.
There are simple logical explanations for this, apart from the will to do so. Here the sun sets as early as 4:30 pm and light dims off over the horizon. By 7 pm, almost all the shops are closed and dinner is served. One time I was in bed as early as 8pm. There was no electricity and the rain began to patter on the tin roof. I snuggled inside my blanket and soon I was asleep. With a good nine hours of sleep I didn't have to force myself out of bed. Rather, I was wide awake at 5 am and just in time to catch the sun peeking from the bluish mountains.
So waking up at 3:30 am to watch the sunrise from Tiger Hill was easier than I thought. It was still dark outside but the sky was clear and beautiful. The driver came and knocked at my door and by 4 am I was already seated in the shared taxi bound for Tiger Hill. We picked up few more passengers at the Clubside taxi stand. They charged a whole lot for hiring the taxi but one can also take a shared taxi for Rs.150 to Rs.200. It also includes a stop at the Batista Loop and Druk Sangak Gompa.
Tiger Hill is at an elevation of 2600 m and is the highest peak in the neighboring region. It is a popular spot for watching the sunrise and the kanchendzonga. The horizon was getting brighter and pinker with each minute as I looked out through the windshield. Most of the passengers were anxious that we would miss that magic moment when the sun kissed the mountains. The vehicle came to a halt, a good 500 m from the peak. Our vehicle was one of the last to arrive and all the parking slots had been taken. I ran up the hill, panting and not wanting to let that moment slip away.
The summit was not a small place but it was fully packed to the brim. I had to wade through the crowd and make enough space for my tripod and then the waiting began. We all could have watched the sunrise from our own backyard, but sometimes it takes a new place to teach us about the beauty of mundane things. Some Indian tourists from West Bengal shucked in their fusty blankets and still cocooned in their sleep got impatient when the sun played its colors behind the mountains. The horizon turned crimson and the sun germinated out from the mountains like a perfect yolk. It all happened within ten minutes but the waiting and the anticipation made it look like a long time.
It was just relishing watching the sun gaining strength as it climbed up to the sky. The first touch of the golden sunlight touching your body was magical. After hours of cold wind slicing your face, you feel the warmth of the sun. Kanchendzonga which stood on the North changed its color from blue to white to pink and gold. You can get the best view of Kanchendzonga from Tiger Hill. The mountains looked more imposing as you climbed further up. Darjeeling lay beneath humbled by the mighty kanchendzonga. The mountains looked so close, it deceived you. From here it looked like the sun was doing it chores for the first time.