Looking back at the wonderful viewpoints I’ve been to, a few of them always stand out. When it comes to vantage point for sunrise on mountains, memorable experience is not only confined to excellent weather with dazzling colour display over mountains, but also instances when weather plays with your patience before slowly revealing its wonder. Framing such a scene can be a step forward from documenting the experience to an artistic representation of your engagement with nature.
This photo is one of the few images I was able to recover last month from a corrupt storage device. Shot on January 1st, 2012 during my trip to lesser known Himalayan hamlets of Rikisum and Sillery Gaon. Back then, losing the photos derailed my plan of writing a travelogue on Sillery Gaon. After so many years, the information of my trip might be outdated for a travelogue but the village of Sillery Gaon still deserves a mention in the story behind this shot.
Sillery Gaon is a picturesque village in the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling. It falls on the old silk route between India and Tibet via Zuluk and the mountain pass of Jelap La. Like many other small hilly settlements in Eastern Himalayas, it has a wonderful view of the Mt Kanchenjanga. However, what makes this village stand out is the nearby viewpoint, Ramitay. This spot is a relatively easy 2 km hike from Sillery Gaon which ends at a rocky height. This cliff has a scary drop of a few hundred feet and is often joked by the locals to be a suicide point. The area there can barely accommodate two people with cameras and accessories. Being in a space that’s narrow and doesn’t have good footing, the stability of the camera on the tripod is always a concern.
Ramitay viewpoint has an unobstructed 180-degree view of towering peaks of Kanchenjanga sector along with the mesmerizing view of meandering Teesta river and its tributary decorating the valley below. The panoramic field of vision from there is unique and can rival many well-known viewpoints of Eastern Himalayas.
Fortunately for me and my friend, the New Year attracted tourists to more sought-after destinations. Plus the cold and foggy weather discouraged the few visitors that were there to venture out for pre-dawn adventure. When we arrived, it seemed that with the dark clouds, we would never catch a glimpse of the mountains during sunrise. However our hope and patience ultimately paid off when for a few moments, the clouds opened and revealed this mystic mountainscape.