We went outside to see the moon and witnessed a clear miracle, there was Kanchenjunga, glittering under the silver moonlight
It was a foggy cold morning when we were hurrying to buy tickets for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (famously known as the Toy Train) to visit Ghum Station.
But the weather did not favour us, it was too foggy to travel and the train trip was cancelled.
We were upset but our team leader Maruf Kabir cheered us up by offering good quality Darjeeling tea and a new plan to visit the Singalila National Park and do a bit of hiking in the Sandakphu trail.
This was my third time in Darjeeling, and I had never seen Kanchenjunga other than in photographs or documentaries.
After spending a couple of days, we figured we would not be able to see the snowy peaks due to dense morning fog.
But we spent a good time in the Oxford Book Shop, as usual this treasure trove rewarded us with some rare books about mountains.
We visited the Darjeeling Mountaineering Institute and the nearby zoo to take a glimpse at the Snow Leopard, Red Panda and Himalayan Pheasants, though we would have preferred to see them in the wild.
That night we had dinner at the famous Glenary's restaurant.
Maruf Kabir informed that his grandfather was the chief engineer of the British Roads and Highways department.
He used to bring his colleagues to Glenary's on special occasions, and Maruf's father grew up in Darjeeling, studied at a school here and he too often visited this restaurant with friends.
Next morning while it was still cloudy, we headed for the Singalila National Park.
On our way we stopped for masala tea in Mane Bhanjang, which is known as a transit-town and the gateway of the park.
The entrance road of the national park is at a 7000 feet altitude.
For me as a birdwatcher, I was happy about this area which has 120 Himalayan bird species.
Others were also excited to get a chance to spot may be a Red Panda, or a Clouded Leopard or even a Himalayan Black Bear since all these mammals live in this protected area.
Sandakphu is the highest peak of West Bengal, (3636 M / 11,930 feet), this time with this large group we decided to do a bit of trekking and just enjoy the view.
The hill road was narrow with sharp turns and lush greenery on both sides, we spotted several small birds but no large animals.
The weather was getting clearer and the forecast said the next day would be sunny.
Around noon we reached Tumling, a small hamlet with few colorful houses, and we stopped at one of them for the night.
Tumling is in Nepal, but with a total population of 15 persons it is inside the national park which is situated in both India and Nepal.
A decision was made to drop our luggage in the lovely hotel-house at Tumling, and then to go as high as we could by jeep on the trekking road to Sandakphu. Then we would return and wait for a better weather.
But we were again disappointed as we just could not see Kanchenjunga!
It was a cold evening, and we had early dinner.
There was a large gathering outside and suddenly someone shouted, "Hey there is almost a full moon in the sky!"
We were surprised as the sky was always cloudy after we entered West Bengal, and had no idea about the moon.
So we went outside and witnessed a clear miracle, there was Kanchenjunga, glittering under the silver moonlight!
We were among the lucky ones in the world who saw the snow giant for first time at night, rather than during the day.
It was a mesmerising moment which seemed totally unreal, like a dream!
We went to sleep happily thinking that tomorrow was going to be cloudless and the mighty Kanchenjunga would be with us for the whole day.
The morning was so bright and the sky was so blue that we could spot all the mountain ranges and wondered at them for hours.
On our way back we made as many tea-breaks as we could at the tea-shops.
Kanchenjunga has its own magical call, you may have the urge to see it someday, to get one glimpse but once you witness the marvel, you feel the connection between you and Kanchenjunga, and the only thing that works from the moment is the call, the call of the mountain to return to it.