Tiger Hill, Darjeeling: The peak of the Ghoom Hill in Darjeeling in West Bengal State of India is the Tiger Hill which became famous for the rare and spectacular 180° dawn-views that it offers of the third highest mountain in the world – the Kangchenjunga. Located at 26°59'37"N 88°17'5"E, the Tiger Hill is a UNESCO Heritage site at an elevation of 8500 feet above sea level and is 11 kilometres southeast of Darjeeling. A 4-storeyed glass-walled observatory or a watch-tower is perched on top of the Tiger Hill from where the Kangchenjunga Mountain is visible for a small window of time.
The reason that thousands of domestic and international tourists throng to this place and the big deal about viewing the Kangchenjunga is that this Mountain is the third highest in the whole world standing at 28, 169 feet altitude – almost at the altitude at which airplanes fly and the Tiger Hill is at 8500 feet altitude. This is probably the closest one can get to the Kangchenjunga. On foggy and hazy mornings, the whole Darjeeling Hills are blanketed with clouds and fog which block the views of the hills and everything else around. It’s just you between the clouds and the sky. And the first ray of the sun that pierces the clouds and lands on the Kangchenjunga Snow Peaks causes light pink hues on the mountains which turn warm yellowish-orange hues as the Sun ascends higher making these pulsating-orange coloured peaks visible from the Tiger Hill Observatory. A clear and sunny day is best suited for a Kangchenjunga-viewing trip to the Tiger Hill. As a bonus you can also see River Teesta (originating in Sikkim) and River Mechi (originating in Nepal) flowing at a distance as well as the Hill Station – Kurseong on the south. The beautiful mountain Phari Jong and the Tibetan mountain – Chumal Rhi are also visible at a distance from here.
At 4 in the wee hours of the morning, tourists, especially mountain-enthusiasts converge in the cold weather and wait anxiously for the Sunrise on the Summit. Millions of cameras have clicked this ‘still’ and this ‘still’ has made it to the cover of thousands of magazines (print and online media) worldwide. This awesome sight is guaranteed to permanently occupy your mind space forever and may also inspire you to explore the Kangchenjunga Mountain from closer quarters!
Tiger Hill is also a popular milestone in trekking-routes where people visit each summer to do several trekking stints from Darjeeling down south via Tiger Hill. It makes a very interesting and challenging trek in this area owing to a mix of different terrains rolled into one.