Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, Himalayas (with Map & Photos)

Kanchenjunga is a mountain range in the Himalayas, the main peak of which, 8586 m above sea level, is the third-highest eight-thousander in the world. The mountain is located on the border of India and Nepal and is the highest point in India. For a long time, the Kanchenjunga mountain range was considered the highest in the world, but only in 1856 did accurate measurements give reason to consider it the third highest.

Kanchenjunga Mountain Range
Kanchenjunga Mountain Range

Basic moments

The name of the peak Kanchenjunga literally translated from the Tibetan language (Kang-chen-tze-nga) means “treasury of the five great snows” or “five repositories of the great snows.”

By “great snows,” locals mean five large glaciers stretching along the slopes of five separate peaks of Kanchenjunga.

The four peaks of the mountain range - Kanchenjunga Main, Kanchenjunga South, Kanchenjunga Middle (on the border of northern Sikkim and Nepal), and Kanchenjunga West (Yalung Kang) in Nepal's Mechi zone - rise above 8000 m.

The Kanchenjunga massif is composed of hard rocks: gneisses, granites, and crystalline schists, ranging in age from half a million to a billion years.

The large river of eastern Nepal, the Tamur, known to all fans of extreme water tourism, originates in the snow and glaciers of Kanchenjunga. It flows down the slopes of Kanchenjunga in the southern and southwestern directions.

Due to the large extent of Kanchenjunga, three natural zones are represented on its slopes: savannas and meadows of the Terai-Duar, eastern Himalayan broad-leaved and coniferous forests (up to an altitude of 3650 m), as well as eastern Himalayan alpine meadows, shrubs and high-mountain deserts (above 3650 m ). Spruce, fir, juniper, and maple grow in the forests; at the foot of the mountain live the red panda, musk deer, and above - the snow leopard-irbis, the Himalayan ibex, and the leopard (Bengal) cat.

To protect the fragile nature of Kanchenjunga, several nature reserves and national parks have been created, the most famous of which is the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in the Indian state of Sikkim.

Kanchenjunga Mountain Range
Kanchenjunga Mountain Range

The population of the areas adjacent to Kanchenjunga reveres this mountain range as sacred. The Lepcha, an indigenous people of the Indian state of Sikkim, has kept the legend of Kanchenjunga for thousands of years. In their mythology, Kanchenjunga is presented as not an earthly mountain, but rather a heavenly one, where the souls of deceased people move. For the Lepchas, the peaks of Kanchenjunga are the birthplace of the first Himalayans, and the glaciers of Kanchenjunga, according to local legends, provided the god Tasheting with the material for creating the first man, Furongthing, and the first woman, Nazongnyi.

Ancient legends warn: Kanchenjunga is not to be trifled with. As evidence, a legend is given about how the Lepcha ancestors decided to build a tower at the foot of Kanchenjunga, the top of which would pierce the sky. The building material used was something that the Lepchas always had in abundance - clay pots. But when the tower overtook Kanchenjunga in height, people quarreled, broke pots at the base of the tower, and it collapsed, crushing many. The survivors fled across the valleys of the Himalayas.

The Kanchenjunga mountain range is located in the Eastern Himalayas, on the southern spur of the Main Himalayan Range, on the border of Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim.

High danger mountain
The list of conquerors of Kanchenjunga is small: the slopes of the mountain are extremely difficult to climb. Not all climbers who dared to go on a journey were able to return...

The history of Kanchenjunga exploration began in the 19th century. The first sketches of the slopes of Kanchenjunga and adjacent valleys were made by Tibetan explorer Rinzin Namgyal in the mid-1880s.

The first serious attempt to climb to the top of Kanchenjunga was made in 1905 by an expedition led by the Englishman Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). The climbers reached a height of 6500 m, although Crowley himself, a man known for his eccentricity, claimed that his team climbed to 7600 m. Be that as it may, the expedition members were unable to reach the summit of Kanchenjunga due to the serious danger of an avalanche.

Over the next five decades, at least six expedition groups set out to travel the slopes of Kanchenjunga. However, the real breakthrough was made on May 25, 1955, by members of the British expedition George Band and Joe Brown. They were the first to climb Kanchenjunga, and they chose exactly the same route that Aleister Crowley had climbed half a century before them. The expedition almost died under a powerful icefall. However, they did not set foot on the highest point of the mountain, stopping several tens of meters lower to maintain the peace of the peak. This was the condition that Tashi Namgyal (1893-1963), the Chogyal (king) of Sikkim from the Namgyal dynasty, set for them, granting permission to climb the mountain sacred to Buddhists and Hindus. Since then, all conquerors of Kanchenjunga have followed this rule.

In 1989, participants of the Second Soviet Himalayan Expedition managed to cross the four eight-thousandth peaks of Kanchenjunga for the first time in history. To complete the route, they divided into two groups, each of which climbed two peaks.

The Nepalese know an old legend that Kanchenjunga has the character of a woman and, to get rid of her rivals takes the lives of all climbers who try to climb to their peak. The first climber who managed to climb Kanchenjunga and survive was the Englishwoman Ginette Harrison in 1998. Thanks to her, Kanchenjunga lost the sad glory of the only eight-thousander that was not conquered by female climbers. Jeannette's fate is tragic: a year and a half later, she died while climbing the Himalayan peak of Dhaulagiri. Nevertheless, other climbers followed her example: since 1998, three more women have managed to conquer Kanchenjunga.

Because climbing Kanchenjunga is associated with serious risks, this mountain range has not yet been fully explored, which is why there remains the possibility of unforeseen situations occurring during the trip. The latest victims of the mysterious mountain are five members of an international expedition who disappeared while climbing it in 2013.

Interesting Facts

  • The Englishman Aleister Crowley, who made the first desperate attempt to climb Kanchenjunga, was a famous adventurer and mystic, a talented poet. He devoted his life to the study of the occult and Kabbalah.
  • Kanchenjunga is depicted in many paintings by the Russian humanist, thinker, philosopher, and painter Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947).
  • In 2012, an automatic camera recorded the appearance of a leopard cat at Kanchenjunga at an altitude of 4500 m, which is a record for Himalayan mammals.
  • The Nepalese Pathibhara Devi Temple stands at an altitude of 3794 m, overlooking the northern slopes of Kanchenjunga. According to legend, it was built by shepherds who lost a large flock of sheep here. At night they had a dream: the goddess Pathibhara demanded that a temple be built in her honor on the mountain. After the completion of the temple, the sheep returned, and the custom of animal sacrifice by pilgrims, both Buddhists and Hindus, has been preserved in the temple to this day.
  • Permission to climb is often issued by the Nepalese side, while Sikkim, where the mountain is considered sacred, issues such permits extremely rarely.
  • Due to the difference in pronunciation in different dialects of the Tibetan language, the names of the mountain sound like Kangchen Jonga, Khanchenjonga, Kanchenyanga, Kachenjonga, Kanchenjunga, Kangchanfanga. The name of the mountain in the Limbu language and the language of the Rai people is "Kanchandyanga" and means "the mountain that we worship."


  • Natural: Kanchenjunga National Park (1977), Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (1997).
  • Religious: Pathib-hara-Devi temple.
  • Gangtok (Sikkim): statue of Guru Padmasambhava (2004), Enchey (1849), Tharpa Choling (1937), Tongsa and Rumtek monasteries, Tsuklakang Royal Palace, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Do-Drul-Stupa Chorten, Thakurbari Hindu Temple (1935), Flower Exhibition Centre, Himalayan Zoo.


  • Altitude: Kanchenjunga Main (8585 m), Kanchenjunga South (8491 m), Kanchenjunga Middle (8478 m), Kanchenjunga West (8505 m) and Kangbachen (7902 m).
  • Length of the mountain range: 125 km to the east.
  • Kanchenjunga National Park: height - from 1829 to 8585 m, area - 849.5 km².
  • Depressions: Northern Col (6500 m) and Talung Col (6685 m).

Kanchenjunga Mountain Range Map