Shillongites were basking in the sights of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks 250 kilometres away.
A couple of weeks ago, when I could barely see the bumper of the car ahead of me in the smog that engulfed Delhi and its suburbs, Shillongites back home were basking in the sights of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks 250 kilometres away.
As Shillong (1966 metres) is the highest point between the eastern Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal, if you look north on a clear day from the higher reaches of the hill city on the Khasi Hills, you might get to see the looming Himalayas on the horizon (but no such luck with the Bay of Bengal 350 kilometres to the south).
You also get to see Gorichen, the highest mountain peak in Arunachal Pradesh (6858 metres)
Shillong being in Meghalaya – the abode of the clouds – a clear line of sight from there across Assam to western Arunachal Pradesh and eastern Bhutan is a rarity. It is usually in November when such a view becomes possible “because of the lower concentration of dust particles in the atmosphere in the period just after monsoon, with the southward moist and cold winds from the Himalayas forcing the dust particles to settle down.”
I have vague memories of seeing the Himalayas from Shillong but do clearly recall reading about it in tourist guidebooks as one of the highlights of the Shillong View Point (a touristy place near the Laitkor Peak Air Force Station from where you can see the wide expanse of the biggest hill station in the world). Because the snowy Himalayan peaks resemble clouds at a glance, many Shillongites could have mistaken the mountains for clouds on the horizon.
And when a colleague pointed it to me on Twitter followed by a flurry of Facebook posts by fellow Shillongites, I rushed to my laptop to do the next best thing than being in Shillong itself: Get a view of the Himalayas from Shillong on Google Earth (see image below).
Thanks to Dipankar Sengupta for allowing me to republish here the photos he originally posted on Facebook.
[This is the third part of the series of Shillong Stories on Cutting the Chai.]