Contemplating the Himalayas from India. Distant landscapes in the time of COVID-19 (Part I)

Everest on the right side of the frame, from Bihar, in #lockdown. Author: Ritu Jaiswal.

We live in difficult and special times. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a series of measures around the world aimed at health prevention and hindering the transmission of the virus. The world economy has suffered a major halt, with the damages that this entails for many people and other problems derived from the more or less forced seclusion of millions of individuals, but collaterally the phenomenon of #lockdown is having other effects. The great decrease in air pollution, especially in the most populated urban and semi-urban areas of the planet.
The decrease in pollution is better health (4’2 milion people die every year in the world due to this factor) and at the same time .. The skies of many parts of the world, suddenly have begun to look cleaner. Visibility has been increasing regularly in its distance potential, highly diminished in recent decades, especially in South and East Asia, but also in regions of the USA and Europe. In some cases the new generations have realized for the first time in their life of mountains that they have always or almost always been hidden from their eyes. In turn, older people have rediscovered them, many with nostalgic feel, from the time when such episodes of good transparency often happened and the only limitations in visibility were given by meteorological aspects.

The global nature of the pandemic and the measures recommended by the WHO that are applied in many countries to varying degrees means that the increase in atmospheric transparency is taking place in many parts of the world, but above all we are going to focus on one country, India, in which the surprises of the people (and not only of the most systemic photographers or observers) have been such that they have spread in the media around the world. Two factors have contributed to this: The fact that the country had been one of the most affected by pollution of human origin and the existence of an immense mountain range, the Himalayas, the largest in the world, in front of their eyes, for all who live in the northern zone.
Our objective when wanting to make an article, was first to report the first case of the vision of these mountains from the Indian plain, but we intuit that more episodes of this type would occur within the period of confinement and as a result, we make a selection of the landscapes that the covid phenomenon has opened before the eyes of millions of people. In most cases, the authors of these photographs have not been professionals in landscape photography, but sensitive people whose admiration for what was discovered before their eyes has made them portray the horizon with cameras or smartphones.


Pictures of Sain Rajat from Jalandahar.

This happened shortly after the state of confinement began in the country. The restriction of road traffic and numerous other economic-industrial activities plummeted pollution rates in a territory very prone to winter stagnation of the air and the accumulation of particles. In Delhi, for example, the AQI index fell from 95 the previous week, when by the same dates the previous year it was over 160 (Indian Express reference). In Jalandhar, suddenly, someone saw a white landscape and spread the photograph which spread from half to middle, as well as many other citizens from their terraces, they noticed the magnificent view of the Himalayas and took many other photographs. . Many others also did it from other somewhat closer locations but with especially beautiful results, such as this other one from Sialkot to the mountains of Kashmir.

We analyzed the main images obtained from Punjab and we noticed some explanatory data errors in the media where they were reported. Thanks to the analysis tool that Ulrich Deuschle offers us, we easily correct the assumptions given and offer new more precise data, which are also in accordance with other cartographic tests.
In the case of the Dauladhar Mountains, the main mountains that were captured in the photographs were about 140 Kms away from the observers (not more than 200 as other many press releases indicated.

Even more in spite of the greater cleanliness of the air, other more distant mountains were hidden by the haze. Here we can access the verification simulation link.

Other thing that the media reported it was the first time that the view had happened in 3 decades ago, not after; without a doubt an attractive headline or text for a story, although we don’t think it was so because we have read messages from other people and We have received personal comments from people who assure that they saw such mountains on various other occasions (although they haven’t provided us with images); Among them, for example, a truck driver claimed to have seen them on various routes along the roads in the rainy season, on summer evenings.

Here another:
An another person mentioned cases of old spring visions:

We believe that it is very possible that this will happen, that is to say that from time to time, when rains occur, the air becomes cleaner, and occasionally the absence of subsequent natural mist will have allowed some appearances, most likely of shorter duration and faint in most cases. of cases, than the current ones. However, in summer (rainy season), the mountains have a lower distribution of snow, which means that those parts of the Himalayas that are not very high are less shiny than in winter. This perhaps made them go unnoticed, as in other geographies, many other distant landscapes rare to see, most people do not usually see them until they are reported in some media and then others look for them more on purpose and realize that they are possible to observe more often than previously thought.

The view from Jalandahar to Himachal Pradesh does not seem to have been repeated the following days (or perhaps it was much more subdued) although the conditions of the lockdown were maintained. The days before the photographs, it was raining in the area, a bit unusual at this time of year, which contributed to cleaning the air. If the same weather situation had occurred at another time in another year, perhaps it would have been seen, but quite possibly the vision would have faded very soon.
Here we see some more pics, reported the same day in the afternoon, which was very viral:

. We attach the simulation, with its mountains at 130 Kms.
Also this tweet in the morning of the same day or this other one at 9:30 in the morning.

Anju Agnihotri, correspondent for Indian Express, was perhaps the first, or one of the first people, to notice that day of the appearance. We attach a link to her article.

Here we can see, in this other tweet, various views from different points, in early April, with the respective simulations:

And here are the direct links to the respective simulations of Ulrich Deuschle:
From Gujrat (Pakistan)
From a point near Jandalhar (We think it was probably made from this area further east of the city).
From Sialkot in Kashmir (Pakistan)
From Pathankot (Punjab – India-).

2nd CASE. THE GARHWAL HIMALAYA (Uttarakhand) FROM SAHARAMPUR (Uttar Pradesh) 150-160 Kms.

Picture of Dushyant Kummar to the silhouette of the southern Gangotri, about 159-160 kms in Uttarakand.

The last week of April, from this part of northern India, in the big city of Saharampur (Uttar Pradesh) the Himalayas appeared before the eyes and cameras of other people. The first or first to notice or testify to this was Nidihi Saini and his husband Dushyant Kumar, an Income Tax inspector, from his house at Vasant Vihar colony on 26 April at 5-5: 30 pm. Here his tweet.
It seems that the level of AQI (Air quality index) it was below 50 quant normally currently used to arrive at 300. The appearance was also partly due to the rains, since apparently it had rained all day according to Raghav Pushkar
The images however went viral especially when they were shared by Ramesh Pandey in his count.
Moreover, it was also seen on the 29th according to another author of another picture. We can appreciate under a sky a situation of atmospheric instability. Previously a person had stated that a few years ago they had also seen it.

The most spectacular images at 26 April, although somewhat forced by contrast, were centered on the Bandarpuch summit (6316 m. high), about 150 Kms (although in the press that viralized the note they erroneously indicated many more distance) moreover of the pic about the Gangotri South (the northern peak was not distinguished) at about 160 kms.

By the way, on the day we wrote these lines, it seems that the Himalayas has been seen from Saharampur again due to new precipitations. Vivek Vanerjee has made this picture.


Author of photography: Ritu Jaiswal

Finally, we want to highlight the photograph that has managed to find Everest from a distance and that of course obtained many thousands of likes after spreading.
Ritu Jaiswal (Mukhiya, Gram Panchayat Singhwahini) in the afternoon of May 4 took a look at the Himalayas from a little village near Sittarkand. It’s the photograph that we show above. It seemed to be understood that Everest was one of the peaks as such was spread in the media.
Analyzing we realize that Everest was too much on the right. We wrote about it with the photographer and then she herself showed us this other image in which the highest mountain on Earth does appear!

Analysis that we carry out and where the correspondence of the silhouette is very clear. It seems that for many years nobody had been looking at Everest from those distances from the Indian plain, or at least in any case, it had not been previously spread.

Anyway, a lot of more times ago, methodical observations from Bihar were carried out in the 19th century, as well explained in a book (The Great Arch) by John Keay. Parveen Kashwan echoed this.

Finnally we could comment also that a few days ago, from somewhat shorter distances, the contemplation of the Kanchenjunga (199 kms), the third highest mountain in the world, was also news. It was reported on April 29 from Silguri and the
May 2

Making a review we have seen references of having seen it in August also and another person quotes it in 2009.

We would like to expose other unique views of other parts of the world achieved during these weeks of world confinement, but if anything we will expose them in another new report.

A little taste:

252 KM | Canig贸, Pyrenees – Marseille

Small portion of a very wide panorama with more details and quality. The image was not observed with the naked eye or with a normal telephoto lens because the atmospheric transparency was not good enough, but it appeared thanks to infrared radiation and the photoshop process. Almost sure it’s the first image of the basilica obtained from the summit of the Canig贸.
Distance252 Kilometers
ByAntoine Mangiavacca
CameraDSLR Camera – No IR Filter
Lens500mm (manual)
DateSeptember 12th, 2019 – 19:15 h

For a couple of centuries many observers and photographers have observed the silhouette of the Canig贸 from Marseille on certain occasions, but never an image in the opposite direction had been obtained, showing Marseille.

Until now.

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408 KM | Noufonts, Pyrenees – T锚te de l’Estrop, Alps

The most distant sunrise
Distance408 Kilometers
CameraNikon P900 @ ISO100 – 1/1600
LensF8 zoom 2000 mm eq.
DateJuly 16th 2019 – 06:20 aprox

May be  the most distant sunrise photographied in the world.

Five years ago, we managed to portray for the first time the cornices of the Alps from the Pyrenees and it was precisely this mountain our goal from the Canig贸. In this new occasion the objective has been to portray it better and from further away, from the top of the Noufonts and this is the result. The Estrop partially eclipsing the great solar disk.

Perhaps the astro-landscape photographed further away on our planet, thanks to the peculiar geography that extends between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the clean air and the sun.

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436 KM | Bastiments, Pyrenees – Doigt de Dieu, Alps

Winter Morning view of the Alps

Distance436 Kilometers
CameraPanasonic Lumix FZ72 @ ISO100 – 1/125
LensNikkor AF-N 180 @ 187 mm – f./5.5
DateFebruary 21th 2016   11:06 am

Want to try yourself? Don’t forget to check our recommended cameras!

Getting to see the Alps from the Pyrenees seemed an extremely difficult goal a few years ago.  No photos existed, or at least were not published.

Achieving it in complete daylight without the help of the alignment of the sun or the dawn screen effect still seemed more difficult.

Alps sectors with more zoom, and a little over contrasted, to ease the view of the details.  One album with other pics of that day can be found here. The panoramic simulation of Ulrich is available here.

The Doigt de Dieu was the most distant summit and the World Record for distant pictures until July of the same year. Currently World Record is from  another summit of the Pyriness although in this case with a contemplation before the sunrise.

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72 KM | Tur贸 de l’Home – Illes Medes

Distance72 Kilometers
ByMarc Bret
CameraPanasonic Lumix FZ72
LensPanasonic Lumix FZ72   f/5.9-1/800
Zoom eq: 214 mm
DateJune 15th 2017 鈥 07:06

Ses Illes Medes, are a small archipelago of the Costa Brava (Catalonia-Spain) and a protected reserve of marine fauna.

From the highest point of the Mass铆s del Montseny (1706 m) the distance is not very long, only about 72 Kms, but often poor visibility does not allow them to be seen.

On this occasion however, there was a great ally: The reflection of the sun in those just moments influenced the waters around them and the occasion could not be let out.

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263 KM | Marseille – Canig贸

The Peak of the Canig贸 (2.785 m) portrayed by Alaign Orign茅 from the peripheric zone of Marseille (France) at 263 Km. View聽of the city in the foreground. Abbaye of the Major is on the left.

For the second picture please look the complete post! For more by J.Pierre Petit here.

Distance263 Kilometers
 ByAlaign Orign茅
CameraNikon D7000
Lens1.- Nikkor AF-S ED 300mm – f/4
2.- Nikkor Zoom AF-S ED VR 70-300mm @ 145mm
Date1.- November 01 th 2016
2.- February 16 th 2016

The prominent Canig贸, photographed from Allauch, a strategic location (to make photos) next to Marseille, at 320 meters high. To illustrate this singular view we have chosen two images of Alain Orign茅, an expert photographer specialist in this type of portrays.

The distant silhouette of that mountain from this part of France it’s only perceptible thanks to the influence of atmospheric refraction, as the trajectory of rectilinear vision passes beneath the line of the sea. Actually many people already call “Canig贸 effect” to the fact when it’s only possible to see a silhouette thanks to atmospheric refraction.

By the other hand, the conjunction with the sun. Obviously it was not coincidence. In concret, from Marseille the succes occur around 8 February and 1 November. Some photographers from distant horizons as Alaign Orign茅 take advantage of the dates to achieve the best images.

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260 KM | Galatz贸 – Puntal del Tamborero

Moleta del Tosal and Puntal del Tamborero, two peaks of Aragon region sights from Pic de Galatz贸 (Mallorca)
Distance260 Kilometers
ByFernando de Angulo
CameraOlympus SP590 UZ
LensDF (eq.) 676 mm – f./5  1/125 secons. ISO 125
DateAugust 8th 2016

One hicking for to see a sunset from one summit of Mallorca turned into a contemplation of distant horizons beyond the line of the sea. In Arag贸n, far away of Valencia region鈥β

May be the first image from these part of Spain from the island.

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