Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 8: Mount Everest, here I come!

Having come so close to the highest peak on Earth, how can one go back home without touching it? Mount Everest or Sagarmatha as it's called in Nepali and Chomulungma as it's called in Tibet has been known as the mountain of "Holy Mother" much before it captured wider human imagination and efforts at conquest to climb its peak. It has been believed that the Goddess Miyolangsangma, the Goddess of inexhaustible giving, lives on the Mountain and Chomulungma (meaning Holy Mother) is her home and playground. Knowing that many mighty peaks of the Himalayas are considered sacred and home to many Gods, both Hindu and Buddhists, it is only apt that the highest peak on Earth, at 8848 metres above sea level, must also be worshipped in a similar fashion. And having visited Manakamna recently which is not too far from the Everest, one wants to believe that there's a similar goddess ruling the latter. True or not, the cultural aspects, beliefs, and spiritual significance associated with these Mountains, specifically the Everest, Kailash (or the ones I have had the fortune to visit recently including Manakamna and Muktinath), or even mountains in general, is definitely highly interesting for me. Much more interesting than just thinking them of as scales of human climbing achievement and display of courage and toughness. Perhaps if the belief about the Goddess on Everest would have been more wide spread and prevalent, I might have been more compelled to climb (attempt that is) it's peak myself. But what to do? The endless fascination with Himalayas tempts one to visit the mighty big mountain of this range however one can so off we must go on the expedition to Sagarmatha (I somehow love this name and prefer this to the more famous Everest) irrespective of whether a Goddess rules it or not. 

My first fascination with climbing the Mount Everest got triggered last year when I watched the movie of the same name. Based on a true life narrative of the 1996 summit attempt and the human struggle to survive all odds, the movie moved me to great levels. I dared to think, in the the corner of my mind, what it would be to undertake a similar expedition as the climbers portrayed in the movie. Even the mere thought of me attempting to climb the Everest, let alone to its peak, or say even trek to its base camp, was laughable (even to me!!) till last year. But not anymore. Perhaps, just perhaps, I might come back and trek to its base camp in the future. For now, a mountain flight to Sagarmatha must suffice. 

Off we went to the Airport early morning the second day in a row (as the flight got cancelled due to the weather on the first day - oh it was so highly disappointing). An hour or two of nail biting followed with fervent prayers offered to the weather God and imploring the Goddess Miyolangsangma to allow us to visit and view her from the top (at a respective distance though). And she conceded. Soon we were off from the Kathmandu airport in an 18-seater flight, speeding towards the snow clad peaks visible in the distance. It was a beautiful day - cloudy in places - but bright and beautiful. All eyes were glued to the windows as the air hostess handed out 'route maps' and the pilot rolled off names of the many peaks we cross before we come to THE mountain - Shubha Pangma (8013 mtrs), Gauri Shankar (7134 mtrs), Chugimago (6297 mtrs)...... And then she rose up high magnificently, like an ethereal being - Sagarmatha. She didn't really need the air hostess or the pilot to point her out to us. By now, the cloud cover was so thick that we could see nothing at all of the ground or the mountains. But there she was - the only peak (or the twin peaks along with Lhotse at 8516 mtrs) visible, raising high above the clouds. It looked like Mother Nature created her most precious jewel and decided to store it amidst the soft folds of the thickest cotton to perseve it's beauty for an eternity. So regal, so awe inspiring, so out of this world.... Sagarmatha, thank you for allowing me a glimpse of your wonder today.

As they said, I might not have climbed the Everest but I touched it with my heart (the cheesy line from the Airlines promo!). 

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