Crystal clear air makes the peaks of the eastern Himalaya visible from the Nepal Tarai

On Friday, residents of Rajbiraj near the Indian border could see clear across the breadth of Nepal to mountains like Cho Oyu and Makalu that form Nepal's northern frontier with China. All photos: Parmeshwar Jha

Because of poor visibility due to pollution or weather, rarely these days does one get to see Nepal's topographical diversity of the Tarai, Chure, Mid-mountains and the Himalaya all at once from one place.

But with a shift in wind direction this week, and the smoke from north India's crop residue burning and vehicular pollution blown off to the south, the Himalayan mountains have come out in their full glory and are visible even from the plains of Province 2.

These photographs were taken on Friday from Rajbiraj of Saptari district near the Indian border of icy peaks that form Nepal's northern frontier with China. It has indeed become rare to see 150km clear across the breadth of Nepal, as the terrain rise from the tropical plains barely 150m above sea level to nearly nine km in elevation.

Usually, for the people of the Madhes the mountains are remote and distant, barely visible most days of the year. For people in the mountains, the Tarai is equally far away. However, not on Friday as nature framed Nepal in one image.

The photographs capture Nepal's topographical steps: golden fields of ripening paddy ready for harvest in the Tarai, the forested Chure Range, the Mahabharat Ridge in Udaypur and Sindhuli districts, and beyond them, the white snows of the high Himalaya -- all in one image.

There were similarly clear days just after the Covid-19 lockdowns went into effect in India and Nepal, removing vehicular pollution from the air  However, locals here say that was nothing compared to the crystal clear post-monsoon views this week.

Some of the mountains can even be identified (from left to right): Numbur, Karyolung, Cho Oyu, Ghyachung Kang, Chamlang, Makalu. Of these Cho Oyu and Makalu are eight thousanders, but Mt Everest is blocked by the nearer peaks of the Hongu Basin in Khumbu.

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