New Delhi, Aug 21
The Union Home Ministry opens up Mount Khangchendzonga for climbing along with 136 other peaks on Wednesday.
The previous Government in Sikkim had banned expeditions to Khangchendzonga and seven other sacred peaks in the year 2000 after protests to protect the sanctity of the mountain.
Addressing the demand to open more mountain peaks for mountaineering and trekking, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced that the Government will open 137 mountain peaks which will be located in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Sikkim to foreigners who want to obtain Mountaineering Visa (MX) for climbing/ trekking these newly opened peaks. The decision has been lauded by the adventure travel industry in India.
Though the news has upset the people of Sikkim especially of Buddhist descents. The route up to the world’s third highest mountain have been shut off for good following a revolt by local Buddhists, who are incensed by what they regard as the desecration of the mountain by godless foreigners.
The government of Sikkim has banned expeditions to Kanchenjunga and seven others sacred peaks – just as 18 unclimbed mountains elsewhere in India have been opened for the first time.
“It was a gesture of respect for the religious sensitivities of the people who regard the mountain as a deity.
Kanchenjunga, which straddles the border between India and Nepal, is viewed by the Sikkimese as both a god and the abode of gods. The legendary yeti, called Nee-guide in Sikkim, is believed to roam its slopes.
The controversy erupted in April 2000 when the state government allowed an Austrian team to attempt the near-vertical trek up the 8,598-metre (28,208ft) peak in exchange for $20,000. The team, led by the climber Willie Bauer, tried to assuage Buddhist feeling by agreeing to turn back 10 metres short of the top.
The mountain – which is smaller only than Mount Everest and K2 – was first climbed in 1953 by the Briton Charles Evans from its Nepal side. A ban on foreigners was imposed in 1955.