June 17, 2011


[* Mt. Sagarmatha  is the world's highest mountain with 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above the sea level. The name of the world's highest peak in Nepali language is सगरमाथा, Sagarmāthā.  A renowned Nepali historian, Babu Ram Acharya, named the mountain:  Sagarmatha, which literally means 'head on or above the sky or heaven'.  Should you be viewing the Himalayan panorama from a distance, somewhere from Nagarkot or Sailung Lekh,  Sagarmatha  would look like to you - a 'Bbhadgaule Topi' (Bhaktapur brand black cap) on a person’s head. It  is black in colour and majestic also. 

* If you looked at the picture again you will see the mountain like a tallest man in a 'black topi' (black cap). The Black Bhadgaule Topi is  one of the markers or  national identities of Nepalese people; you may call it 'national symbol' or pride or national dress either. 

* In an apparently rare instance, Jeff Botz, an American photographer,  below has raised the issue, which no Nepali individual dared doing until today. Many thanks to Jeff Botz, who is absolutely correct in saying, "I have been able to find no legal basis or precedent for any one nation creating place names and applying them to locations within the borders of other sovereign nations,".

PM Jhal Nath Khanal
in Bhad Gaule Topi 
* A question of 'national identity or naming' has emerged again. Should we not tell the world that Mt. Sagarmatha is the world's highest peak ? Nepal has renamed a number of other peaks in  their 'indigenous names' (local names) in recent times and now it is the time for us to  tell the whole world that Mt. Sagarmatha is the world's highest peak and which is in Nepal. Ones identity is something to be very serious about and proud of also. 

* For decades Burma bore British colonial name and  has become 'Myanmar' and its old capital Rangoon has also become Yangon now. In India also, Bombay has become Mumbai, Patna has become Pataliputra and Culcutta has become Kolkatta in Bengali. There are many more to list here. The Sherpas of Solukhumbu revere  Mt. Sagarmatha  as  Chomolungma or Qomolangma. These both mean the ‘Holy Mother’ or "the goddess mother of the world". (Cf. Tibetan:, Jomolungma, "Holy Mother"; Chinese:, Mandarin: Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng, "Jomolungma Peak"). These are indigenous name(s) of Mt. Sagarmatha.  Now, it is the time for Nepali people and government to replace Mt. Everest with Mt. Sagarmatha, in the school books, posters, pamphlets etc. that they publish, in material or digital forms. Your name is given by your parents or locals in your own particular language and if you are named by others for some reasons; now it is the time for you to go back to your actual roots. - The Blogger]


Have you ever heard of Chomolungma or Sagarmatha? For the uninitiated, these are the Asian names of Mt Everest. 

An American photographer, mesmerised by the world's highest peak since his boyhood, is calling for it to jettison its popular name as it is a legacy of British colonisation. 

Jeff Botz, whose photographic project "Portrait of Everest: An examination of appearance and identity" has been on display in Kathmandu since last month, is trying to create awareness about the mountain's original identity and Britain's attempt to dominate "this small but significant piece of geography" for nearly 160 years. 

After establishing its rule over India, the British East India Company began a survey of its territory in 1802, which became known as the Great Trigonometric Survey continuing for over six decades. 

In 1856, an Indian overseer, Radhanath Sikdar, estimated that an obscure mountain, dismissively called Peak XV, was actually the highest peak in the world, surpassing Kanchenjunga, which was believed to be the highest mountain till then. 

Nine years later, the new peak was officially named Mt Everest by Britain's Royal Geographical Society after Sir George Everest, former British surveyor-general of India. 

"There was an objection by the Asiatic Society in Bengal which was ignored because of the more pressing problem of the Indian mutiny," says Botz.

The 62-year-old, who first came to Nepal in 1973 to glimpse the magic mountain, says it was known to Tibetans centuries before the British, and revered as Qomolangma, the "abode of the Mother Goddess". 

"The British scoffed at the Tibetan tradition and obscured the goddess of the mountain by covering her with the shroud of George Everest, changing the meaning and uses of the mountain," he says. "This isn't a simple act of identity theft; it's character assassination." 

In Nepal, the mountain is called Sagarmatha. Botz says since neither Nepal nor Tibet was colonised by the British, they have no jurisdiction over Mt Everest, which lies on the border between the two. 

"I have been able to find no legal basis or precedent for any one nation creating place names and applying them to locations within the borders of other sovereign nations," he says. 

In 2008, after Nepal became a republic, Botz wrote to the first Maoist prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, urging him to remove the name of Sir George Everest from the world's tallest mountain and assert Nepal's "sovereign right to control affairs within (its) borders" by renaming the peak Sagarmatha. 

"Everest is not Everest, it is Sagarmatha, it is Qomolangma," he wrote. 
"The mountain is more of an intellectual property... and intellectual properties have great value to the person or organization that claims and controls them... Your name is your brand. Name recognition will benefit all Nepali exports, goodwill, tourism, and financial wellbeing. There is nothing Nepal could do to promote its name more effectively than to assert its right to rename this mountain as Sagarmatha." 

While there has been no response from the government of Nepal, the Everest community also remains unperturbed. 
American mountaineer Pete Athans, called "Mr. Everest" for climbing the 8,848-metre peak seven times, says the colonisation perspective and sensitivity might have been more trenchant 100 years ago but not now. 

"These days, no one considers Britain much of an occupier or coloniser and Nepal was actually never consummated as a colony," Athans said in an interview. 

"Sagarmatha is a nice Nepali name but many people don't recognize it. Qomolangma is a Chinese transliteration of Chomolungma. I think western Tibetans may not appreciate using their occupiers' verbiage." 

Athans, now engaged in rescuing ancient artefacts found in the mountain caves of northern Nepal and preserving them, feels not too many people object to Everest, especially since Sir George was respectful of the local names and their pre-dating his work. 

"I think you can use them all, at the risk of confusing your readers," he adds. 
Lady June Hillary, wife of Sir Edmund Hillary who assumed the reins of the Himalayan Trust founded by the first Everest conqueror to help the Sherpas of Nepal after Hillary's death, echoes Athans tacitly. 

"In our house, Everest was called all three names," she says. "So it was not an issue." 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mukund Apte
Date: Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM
Yes, it is correct. Nobody has authority to give (new names) to places/locations in another country by changing their earlier and ethnic names. Such names must be changed back to the original as soon as possible. Even names to existing memorials or constructions should not be changed (by modifying them to any extend).

In Bhaarat also there are umpteen locations like Taj Mahal, Kutub Minar Allahabad etc which need to change back immediately. Don't you agree sir? The original names of them must be restored as early as possible.

Prof. Mukund Apte,
Mumbai, India.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tilak Shrestha 
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Yes, I  agree with Prof. Mukund Apte whole heartedly. 

Tilak Shrestha PhD
Alabama, USA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Lost Horizon 
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 6:57 AM
To: The Himalayan Voice 

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your interesting article.  Many sincere thanks for the same.  Your deep concern over the tallest mountain on earth remains a top admiration at this end.  We bear a special feeling that The Himalayan Voice tallies with The Shangri-La Voice.  That Sagarmatha is the highest mountain in the world is a unanimous fact.  Or more accurately, nobody can deny it.  In Nepal Bhasa (Newari) we refer to it as GULUBHA and our ancestors worshipped it facing north-east from Kathmandu Valley, either from the roof-top or the terrace or the window, with an offer of a lighted butter-fed lamp in the evening.  It was a great salutation !  But this cultural tradition is sinking gradually.  Keeping an eye on the short synopsis as featured below: 
"Lost Horizon (1937) is a timeless, widely-acclaimed classic - a romantic fantasy and science-fiction adventure film, produced and directed by Frank Capra for Columbia Pictures. The film was faithfully adapted by screenwriter Robert Riskin from James Hilton's  best-selling 1933 novel of the same name. The story was inspired by real-life mountaineer George Leigh-Mallory, who was lost during a fatal climb of Mount Everest in 1924."

The mere question goes: WHO CONQUERED IT FIRST ?  Was it George Leigh-Mallory or was it Sir Edmund Hillary who climbed it first successfully ?  A doubt arises between 1924  A.D. and 1953 A.D., you see --- a span of some 29 years.  Has anybody been able to solve the mystery yet ?  SAGARMATHA in ancient Sanskrit signifies "The Sky Touching Summit."  SAGAR + MAATHAA = SAGARMATHA.  SAGAR means Sky and MATHA means  ‘touching’.  Learn to scrutinize the oriental vocabularies - Sagar equaling to Sky while Saagar equaling to Sea (top to bottom).  A slight modification made in the written spelling or in the verbal accent causes a colossal difference indeed. "Sagarmatha National Park" of Solu Khumbu District in east Nepal forms a World Heritage Site of Nature.  It is our pride !  (And Kanchanjunga is the Queen of the Himalayas.)

With best regards and modest greetings.  Thanking you once more, I remain

Faithfully yours,

Amrit Ratna Tuladhar    

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kamal Malla 
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM
To: The Himalayan Voice

Attached is a copy of the  paper I read at the 18th Annual Conference of the Linguistic Society of Nepal,  published a year later in Nepalese Linguistics  Vol. 15 (November, 1998), pp.19-28.

In the paper,  my argument is  that the local name of the peak is N O T  Sagar maathaa, but Saagar-maathaa---  possibly from a dialect of the  Bahing-Sunwar speaking  Rais  who live  in the village SAAGAR, at the foot of peak at the same longitude/latitude as Everest. 

 The word is a compound of Tibeto-Burman roots SAA-GYAR, meaning the peak of the land/earth.  SAA is a root  widely attested in many place-names in and around that area (e.g., SALLERI, SAALUNG)

If we check  any survey map with 1 inch to one  mile or higher scales, we can locate the village SAAGAR.

The Nepali writer who concocted the untenable  Indo-Aryan etymology was Kharidar Baburam Acharya who published an essay in Sharada monthly in VS 1995 Poush/January 1939, proposing that SAGAR  is the sky and MAATHAA is the brow/the head.  Now the problem with that forced etymology is :  who gave such a  learned name to the peak?   

By the Indo-Aryan speaking Bahun/Chetris?   When did they know that it was the highest peak?  The Khas had moved in this area only in the latter half of the 16th-century.

For  the rest of my agnostic approach please see the paper here >>.

Witth best wishes,


Prof. Kamal P. Malla
Smyrna, Georgia

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Lal Bahadur Thapa 
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 11:09 PM

It is the  inherent sovereign right and pride of Nepal to name Sagarmatha for the world's highest peak  than being grateful with  a name-word of then East Indian Company's surveyor general , Sir George Everest.

I also urge with our leaders who should listen to the voice and request of a true son of motherland a well known geographer Mr. Budhhi Narayan Shrestha who has always been providing the black and white conclusions before all, based on the empirical facts.

Thank you,
L. B. Thapa,
Kathmandu, Nepal.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dirgha Raj Prasai 
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Respectfully, I am requesting that we citizens of Nepal should be cautious for building and saving the country as every one loves their respective nation. Changes are natural everywhere but these changes should be materialized to meet the aspirations of the people. To change the name of Sagarmatha is not a good proposal. You should  realize that if the changes took the negative side the nation will be disintegrated. The foreigners are observing to disintrigrate our unity. 

This is self understood that the nationality and established names and identities are the assets of Nepal.  Please, don't mind. I again request all of you who want to change the name of Sagarmatha, Lumbini, Kingdom, Pashupatinath and Shoyambhu - so never try to exercise in futility.

Dirgha Raj Prasai

------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Kishore Sherchand
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 1:03 a.m.

Although I am now in the U.S.A., it was really awesome to learn something from you. When I see some comments on the word "Sagarmatha”, it reminds me of one of the researched comments by U.C. Berkeley Professor of Eastern Culture Lewis Lanchaster.

He speaks, “there are faiths which endorse fixed sanctity; if violated becomes polluted, downgraded.” That is why Shakyamuni Siddhartha Buddha, when he taught the Four Noble Truths (after he got enlightened), used Pali spoken and written by the common people.

Sanskrit was never a spoken language (in a way dead language) and was not used by Siddhartha Buddha. In the wake of this hard understanding, I am wondering why our Nepalese scholars and linguists are so fascinated to use Sanskrit or trying to establish  Sanskrit derivatives as a high standard, and hesitate to use a local spoken languages or dialects.

I believe that Sanskrit endorses fixed sanctity and gets easily polluted. This is the biggest hurdle and you are labeled polluted.

Kishore Sherchand,
California, USA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Adarsha Tuladhar 
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 7:09 AM

Although it could be termed as a 'dovish' statement I agree with all those who feel 'Saagarmatha' instead of 'sagarmatha' is more appropriate.

But taking up the issue once again with Chinese regarding the re-demarcation of the border with Nepal and China having agreed to share two faces as their respective borders, is a more serious matter.

Please mind it that the border demarcation between China and Nepal which had happened some 40 yrs ago is still considered as the 'model' in terms of settling border matters for the world.  I had the opportunity to see the detailed topo-map of the entire border and I was awed by its details and accuracy.

On who scaled the Mt. Everest first I guess the search for the body of the alpinist and his cameras are still on.  May be one day the alpinists will be able to find either of it and then establish the truth.

Adarsha Tuladhar ,
Kathmandu, Nepal

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tilak Shrestha 
Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 10:20 AM

 I do not know why Adarshaji feels 'Saager' more appropriate than 'Sagar?' The peak is about
 sky, not sea.

Yes, we must carry on the legend of 'Shangre La.' Who cares if it is a fiction. Not me. I am happy to hold on the fiction and sale it to tourists.

As per the China and Nepal border, there are international conventions. If a mountain chain becomes a geographic border, then the watershed line becomes the border.

We need to check if the peak is at the watershed line or not. If so, we should not make it an unnecessary issue with

Tilak Shrestha, PhD
Alabama, USA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kalyan Bhattarai 
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:07 AM
I fully agree with the opinion of Prof. Mukund Apte and support him. All Nepalese must show solidarity to replace the word Mt Everest from all the literatures of the world by Mt Sagarmatha . 

However I doubt on the implementation of this idea because present day leaders of Nepal are power hungry, corrupt, liar, and most of them are puppet of this or that leader/parties of the world and c an not be expected to take the matter seriously. They are all of slave mentality who believes that without getting external support they can not be in power on their own strength and merit.
Kalyan Dev Bhattarai,
Kathmandu, Nepal.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Ram B Chherti 
Date: Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 4:10 AM
Fully agree with this 'just demand' of name change of the world's highest peak. It's high time to go back to its original name : Sagaramatha than keeping what ought  to be jettisoned. right now. 
Thank you, 
Ram B. Chhetri,
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Darshan Rauniyar 
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 4:34 AM
I agree with motion to change the name from Mt. Everest to original name of Mt. Sagarmatha. This name reflects true representation of Nepal that all Nepales should be proud of.
Name change conventions have taken place all over the world including our neighbor in India (Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai, Bombay to Mumbai etc). Everything is possible if we are ready to take the lead, it starts from us and let the world follow.

Darshan Rauniyar
Seattle, Washington


(With comments posted above it is evident that Nepalese people for their national pride and gloryexcept for a few of those, are in favour of jettisoning  Everest and keeping a pure Nepali name Sagaramatha for the world's highest peak. No more comments shall be posted, however, you may send your comments to this thread in the email list as well. - The Blogger)