Forbidden Mountains in India: To Climb or Not To Climb

forbidden-mountains-india

Trekking all the way up to snow-capped peaks and high elevations is quite a challenge. However, you just cannot climb the summit of banned peaks, no matter how physically fit you are. By banned, we mean they are forbidden to climb – some of them for religious or spiritual reasons, some for political and the others because of the prevailing environmental or physical conditions. Mountains and mythological significance go hand in hand. Moreover, the Himalayan mountain range has held a strong religious significance among both Buddhists and Hindus.

Would you dare to climb the forbidden peaks of

Nanda Devi

Elevation: 7,816 meters above sea level

Closed since: 1983

Getting there: Garhwal region of the Himalayas

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Mount Nanda Devi from Gorson Bugyal – credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)

Being the tallest peaks of India, the trek uphill is bound to be challenging. The bold peak lures you to make it to the top of the summit. However, mystery and legends circle the summit like a dark cloud. We are not talking about the physical exertion it could cause or the intense training and stamina it would require, but about the fact that it is forbidden. Named Nanda Devi as it is where Goddesses Nanda and Sunanda reside, the notorious peak is believed to be one of the world’s steepest peaks. Referred to as the ‘bliss-giving Goddess’, the second highest peak of India stands tall in solitude. Declared the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, it forms the Nanda Devi National Park along with the Valley of Flowers, to conserve and protect the area. History states that the Indian intelligence Bureau and the CIA lost a monitoring device that was nuclear powered, close to the summit. The risk of exposing people to radiation caused the peak to be closed to everyone. Having reopened for a short span of time, it was finally shut in 1983. Besides that, it is a difficult task to reach the top of the mountain owing to its location. It is surrounded by neighboring mountains forming an envelope of protection, commonly referred to as The Sanctuary.

Kanchenjunga

Elevation: 8,000 metres

Closed since: 1955

Getting there: via Sikkim

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Kanchenjunga from Sandakphu – courtesy: Neeraj (First Pilgrim)

The beautiful North Eastern state of Sikkim leads you to the icy peaks of death. We say so as climbing it is quite a challenge. Banned for spiritual reasons, the Kanchenjunga is considered a sacred peak. Local Buddhists of the region caused a revolt and pleaded that foreigners be banned from climbing the peak as they do not respect the God’s abode the way it deserves to be respected. As a means of respecting the cultural sensitivity of the locals, the Sikkim Government banned all expeditions to the famous summit. The locals believe that Nee-gued, the yeti-like creature roams around the slopes of the mountain. The third highest summit in the world has a part of it in India as well as Nepal. It is a fairly hard climb to make, ranking next to K2 in levels of difficulty. Attempts to scale the summit were made by an Austrian team earlier, with them retreating after a snowstorm.

Om Parvat

Elevation: 6,191 metres

Getting there: Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand

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This mountain lies in close proximity to the Adi Kailash mountain and bears a close resemblance to Mount Kailash of Tibet. Hindus consider it a sacred peak and its snow is believed to get deposited in a pattern resembling ‘Om’. Not just the mountain, but the surrounding area including Jonglingkong and Parvati Lakes are considered sacred by the Hindus as well. The mountain remains in a dispute between the neighboring countries of India and Nepal, who don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the border line between them. However, one can view it while heading to Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, just below Lipulekh Pass.

Would you dare to dream of these forbidden peaks?

Published by

Aditi Shukla

Aditi Shukla is a traveller, explorer, soul-searcher and foodie. She loves embarking on new journeys and trying local food along the way, while documenting them on her blog Lyf&Spice (www.lyfandspice.com). She particularly loves exploring the countryside and little towns on foot, and has been nurturing her new found love for hiking for the past few years now. According to her, hiking gives a new perspective to a place and helps to uncover trails and views you would have otherwise not encountered.

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