Situated at an elevation of 12100ft above sea level, Sandakphu is the highest eminence of the Singalila Range within Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It is considered the best trekking destination in the area. According to L. S. S. O' Malley, who made an extensive survey of entire Darjeeling District in the late 19th century, `The name Sandakphu means the hills of the poison plant, and has been given to the peak, because deadly aconite plant grows thickly along the slops for about 2,000 feet below the summit.`
Sandakphu commands the finest view of the Himalayas- a view which can hardly be compared with any other places of the entire region. In the foreground is a great basin set in the midst of the hills, the slopes of which are covered by masses of rhododendron and fragrant pine forests.
In the background is a continuous barrier of snowy mountains the most prominent of which is Kanchanjangha towering up in gigantic height and breadth. The other attending peaks Karbu, Pundim, Janu, Sinialchu stand high with same prominence and glory. Mount Karbu here does not present the same graceful outline as when seen from Darjeeling. Janu rises far higher above with its lofty peak standing up like a great icy horn.
Far off to the west, at an aerial distance of 160km from the observer, the graceful peak of Mt Everest is seen among a group of other snowy mountains. The Everest is slightly hidden behind a crest of Peak XIII, which resembles a shape of a grate armchair of snow. Further to the west, towards Nepal, there is a wonderful squire mass of mountains looking like a great wall of snow.
The contrast of Everest and Kanchanjangha is very prominent. The later is remarkable for its imposing bulk and massive proportions, while Everest, soaring above a series of valleys and ridges, is more graceful and majestic. The space between the two is occupied by snowy ranges of smaller proportion. And eastward, beyond Kanchanjangha, the Narshingh Group, Dongkya and Chola Ranges on the Tibet frontier are distinctively visible with Chomo Lahri in Bhutan lifting up its head from behind.
The whole snowy ranges of Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal covering a length of 360 kms is visible from Sandakphu, but the panorama is completely dominated by Kanchanjangha and Everest group. At dawn when the first ray of sun touches the peaks the Everest is the first to be seen. The colour of the snow changes from pale yellow to orange and then to golden as more and more sunrays reflect on the snow creating some unforgettable magic moments. The landscape and environment in Sandakphu makes it a very special trekking destination especially for the trekkers who want to enjoy a pristine land of Darjeeling Himalayas that can hardly be described through words.
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