When it comes to naming, whether it’s living beings or inanimate objects, giving them distinct identities is crucial. These identities resonate with people and leave a lasting impression. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the magnificent Himalayas, which have acquired their own unique character and captivated the minds of those who discovered them.
Isn’t it amazing to think that these majestic Himalayas, known for their serenity and stillness, were formed by the powerful collision of two enormous continental plates?
Now, leaving the geological history aside, let me engage you with the intriguing meanings behind the names of the world’s 14 highest peaks.
Each of these peaks carries its own distinctive and significant title. For the convenience of travelers to Nepal, we have included the eight peaks from Nepal in the list, followed by the others.
Everest (8848.86 m/29,031.7 ft)
Nepal is the home of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, standing at an elevation of 8,848.86m. Situated on the boundary between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, within the Mahalangur Himal subrange of the Himalayas, Everest was named in honor of George Everest, a former Surveyor General of India. However, the mountain is also known by different names, depending on culture and language.
In Tibet, it is called “Chomolungma,” meaning “Goddess Mother of the World.” In Nepal, it is referred to as “Sagarmatha,” which translates to “Goddess of the Sky.”
These names reflect the spiritual significance and deep reverence that the mountain holds in the beliefs and traditions of the people living in the region.
Kanchenjunga (8,586 m/28,169 ft)
Following Mount Everest, the next highest mountain in Nepal is Mount Kangchenjunga, standing at an elevation of 8,598m. It is located along the boundary between Nepal and India, within the Kangchenjunga Himal section of the Himalayan Mountain Range
Kanchenjunga is an immense mountain range situated on the border between northeastern India and eastern Nepal, forming a part of the Great Himalayan Range. Mount Kangchenjunga is also recognized as the world’s third-highest mountain and the highest mountain in India.
The name “Kang-chen-dzo-nga” or “Yang-chhen-dzo-nga” originates from Tibet and translates to “Five Treasuries of the Great Snow.” This name symbolizes the mountain’s immense size and grandeur.
Kanchenjunga stretches in all four cardinal directions, making it a commanding presence in the landscape. It holds significant cultural and spiritual symbolism for the people residing in the region.
Lhotse (8,516 m/27,940 ft)
Mount Lhotse, reaching an elevation of 8,516m, proudly claims the title of the world’s fourth-highest mountain and the third-highest in Nepal.
This mountain resides on the border between Nepal’s Khumbu region and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, specifically within the Mahalangur Himal section of the Himalayan Mountain Range. Standing in proximity to Mt. Everest, Lhotse shares the prestigious Everest Massif.
What truly distinguishes Lhotse is its awe-inspiring south face, which happens to be the largest of any mountain across the globe. It shares its base camp with Everest. The name “Lhotse” finds its origin in the Tibetan language, with “Lho” meaning “South” and “Se” meaning “Peak.”
Thus, “Lhotse” can be translated to “South Peak” in English. This majestic mountain serves as a significant landmark in the region, attracting adventurers and mountaineers from all corners of the world.
Makalu (8,481 m/27,825 ft)
Mount Makalu, soaring to a height of 8,485m, claims its position as the fourth-highest mountain in Nepal and the fifth-highest globally. Notably, it exhibits a distinct pyramid-shaped peak. On May 15, 1955, French mountaineers Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray successfully scaled Mount Makalu.
Makalu, the fifth tallest mountain in the world, stands apart with its unique pyramid shape. It resides in the Mahalangur Himalayas, southeast of Mount Everest.
The name “Makalu” traces its roots back to the Sanskrit language, signifying “Maha Kala.” This mountain’s majestic form, with four sides resembling a pyramid, evokes a sense of awe and beauty.
Despite its towering height, Makalu has managed to preserve its natural splendor, unspoiled by human interference. This aspect makes it a preferred destination for adventurous travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the breathtaking grandeur of nature.
Cho Oyu (8,188 m/26,864 ft)
Mount Cho Oyu, reaching an elevation of 8,188m, claims the title of the fifth-highest mountain in Nepal and the sixth-highest in the world. It rests on the border between Nepal and China, serving as the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu sub-section within the Mahalangur Himal section of the Himalayas.
After Mount Everest, Cho Oyu stands as the second most climbed eight-thousander and is considered the easiest among them. On October 19, 1954, the Austrian climber’s Joseph Jöchler, Herbert Tichy, and the local Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama became the first to successfully conquer Mount Cho Oyu.
Cho Oyu, known as the “Turquoise Goddess” in the Tibetan language, is referred to by various names, including the “Mighty Head,” “God’s Head,” and “Bald God.”
However, ascending Cho Oyu still poses a significant challenge, requiring a high level of skill and experience.
Dhaulagiri (8,167 m/26,795 ft)
Dhaulagiri I, the highest mountain in the Gandaki river basin, derives its name from a combination of two Sanskrit words: “Dhawala,” meaning “Dazzling,” and “Giri,” meaning “Mountain.”
Living up to its name, Dhaulagiri I is a breathtakingly beautiful mountain that dazzles all who lay eyes upon it. Situated in Nepal, it serves as a popular destination for mountaineers and adventurers seeking to immerse themselves in the splendor and grandeur of nature.
Manaslu (8,163 m/26,781 ft)
Manaslu, located in the west-central region of Nepal, is a mountain whose name signifies “Mountain of the Spirit.”
The name “Manaslu” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Manasa,” which translates to “intellect” or “soul.” This name aptly captures the essence of the mountain, known for its breathtaking natural beauty and spiritual significance.
Annapurna I (8,091 m/26,545 ft)
The name “Annapurna” finds its roots in the Sanskrit language, where “Anna” means “food” and “purna” means “filled.”
This mountain was named after the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, revered as the source of all sustenance and life-giving energy. Annapurna is often interpreted as “everlasting food,” symbolizing the mountain’s profound connection to the life-giving power of nature.
Having covered the eight highest peaks in Nepal, our exploration doesn’t conclude here. There are six additional peaks that reign over the Himalayas, completing the list of the 14 highest peaks in the Himalayan range. The non-Nepalese peaks are as follows:
K2 (8,611 m/28,251 ft)
Mount K2 is the highest peak in Pakistan and the second-largest peak in the world. K2, located in the Karakoram Range, was first discovered in 1856 by Col. T.G. Montgomerie, a Surveyor of India who meticulously mapped the region.
The mountain earned its name based on Montgomerie’s measurements, which revealed it to be the second-highest peak in the range.
The term “K2” signifies the origin of the mountain’s name: the “K” represents the Karakoram Range, while the “2” signifies its position as the second peak measured by Montgomerie. This name has gained widespread recognition and is now commonly used to refer to this iconic mountain.
Nanga Parbat (8,126 m/26,660 ft)
Nanga Parbat, also known as Diamir, is a mountain situated in the west-southwest region of Astor in Pakistan.
The name “Nanga Parbat” translates to “the naked mountain,” while the local name “Diamir” signifies “kings of the mountains.” Renowned as one of the most challenging peaks to conquer, Nanga Parbat stands second only to K2 in terms of difficulty.
Gasherbrum I (8,080 m/26,510 ft)
Gasherbrum, a group of four peaks nestled in the Karakoram Range of the Himalayas, resides in the northern region of Kashmir.
The name Gasherbrum finds its roots in the local language, where “Gasher” represents “shining” and “brum” symbolizes “wall.”
This majestic mountain range is celebrated for its awe-inspiring beauty and towering peaks, beckoning adventurers and explorers from across the globe for countless generations.
Broad Peak (8,051 m/26,414 ft)
Sitting on the border between Pakistan and China, Broad Peak, known locally as Falchan Kangri, derives its name from its expansive and flat summit.
Gasherbrum II (8,035 m/26,362 ft)
As previously mentioned, the name Gasherbrum originates from the local language, where “Gasher” means “shining” and “brum” signifies “wall.”
Shishapangma (8,027 m/26,335 ft)
Shishapangma, located in Tibet, carries a name rooted in the Tibetan language. In Tibetan, “Shisha” denotes “range,” while “Pangma” translates to “meadow.” Geologist Toni Hagen offered an alternate interpretation of the name, proposing that it means “crest above the grassy plains” or “grassy plain.”
Naming plays a vital role in establishing unique identities for both living beings and non-living objects. The Himalayas, with their serene beauty, exemplify this phenomenon, having been formed through a powerful collision of continental plates. Exploring the meanings behind the names of the world’s highest peaks reveals their spiritual significance and the reverence they hold in the hearts of the local communities.