Wednesday 18th October 2017

Extraordinarily powerful description by FWC

A few days ago I was looking through some of the articles written by my grandfather, F W Champion, and I came across the following passage, which brought home to me again his extraordinarily beautiful writing style. It describes the view that he and my grandmother enjoyed when looking northwards from the foothills of the Himalayas, either from Naini Tal, Almora, Binsar, Kausani or Ranikhet. I was so moved that I sent it my friend Rosemary Fox, in Canada. Rosemary grew up in Lansdowne, another hill station, as did my father, and they would both have marvelled at this spectacular panorama as children. Rosemary said that these words had had moved her to tears, and I can well understand why.

One can gaze and gaze yet again at this snow panorama and yet never tire of gazing. In the dawn the sun rises almost behind some of the more distant peaks, giving them the appearance of being nearly black; an hour or so later the blackness will change to a dazzling white and the sun’s rays striking the mountains on one side will bring the thousand and one variations of shape and form into almost stereoscopic reliefs; by midday the sun will be to the south and the innumerable mountain peaks which in the morning appeared to be at varying distances from the spectator will now give the impression that they are all more or less the same distance away and will appear smaller and less inspiring; in the afternoon a few clouds will probably collect and some of the peaks will disappear from view altogether; in the evening the clouds will disperse and the sun having now reached the other side of the mountains will again repeat the morning’s process of outlining the peaks and saddles in sharp relief; then finally as the sun sinks below the horizon, the splendid array of peaks will turn to a lovely rose pink which gradually changes to the blue green coldness of the eternal snows by night – like life passing into death. Then there is the fairyland scene produced by this snow panorama when lighted by the soft glow of the full moon; the majestic sight of some lofty crest surmounting a fierce storm raging below, like a fine ship sailing confidently over a rough sea; the complete disappearance at times in haze, as though the mountains have retired into privacy behind a veil; the long drawn-out plumes of powdered snow flowing from the crests when a fierce wind is blowing suggesting that the gods of the mountain are warming themselves round a comfortable fire.

From “Haphazard Ramblings in Kumaon”, by F W Champion, Indian State Railways Magazine, c1931

The mighty Himalaya photographed by F W Champion, looking northwards from Kausani

Three of F W Champion’s staff gazing towards the holy mountain Nanda Devi, with the flat-topped Nanda Kot to the right

A rustic scene with Trisul in the background

The triple-peak of Trisul (now spelled Trishul), the trident

A glorious view of Trishul that I took in 2014

Trishul with Nanda Ghunti away to its left

The mighty peaks of Nanda Devi, formerly the highest mountain in the British Empire

The five peaks of Panchachuli

The panorama from Pangot, with a Mountain Hawk Eagle soaring above Trishul

One can gaze and gaze yet again at this snow panorama and yet never tire of gazing.

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