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Mount Everest

Mount Everest – also called Sagarmatha (Nepali: Chomolungma or Qomolangma or Zhumulangma) (Chinese: Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng) – is the highest mountain on Earth, as measured by the height above sea level of its summit, 8,848 metres (29,029 ft). The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia, is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, and Tibet, China.
In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon recommendation of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India at the time. Chomolungma had been in common use by Tibetans for centuries, but Waugh was unable to propose an established local name because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.

Identifying the highest mountain

In 1808, the British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India to determine the location and names of the world's highest mountains. Starting in southern India, the survey teams gradually moved northward using giant 1100 pound (500 kg) theodolites (each requiring 12 men to carry) to measure heights as accurately as possible. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the 1830s, but Nepal was unwilling to allow the British to enter the country because of suspicions of political aggression and possible annexation. Several requests by the surveyors to enter Nepal were turned down.
The British were forced to continue their observations from Terai, a region south of Nepal which is parallel to the Himalayas. Conditions in Terai were difficult owing to torrential rains and malaria — three survey officers died from malaria while two others had to retire owing to failing health.
Nonetheless, in 1847, the British pressed on and began detailed observations of the Himalayan peaks from observation stations up to 150 mi (240 km) away. Weather restricted work to the last three months of the year. In November 1847, Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India made a number of observations from Sawajpore station located in the eastern end of the Himalayas. At the time, Kangchenjunga was considered the highest peak in the world, and with interest he noted a peak beyond it, some 140 mi (230 km) away. John Armstrong, one of Waugh's officials, also saw the peak from a location further west and called it peak 'b'. Waugh would later write that the observations indicated that peak 'b' was higher than Kangchenjunga, but given the great distance of the observations, closer observations were required for verification. The following year, Waugh sent a survey official back to Terai to make closer observations of peak 'b', but clouds thwarted all attempts.
In 1849, Waugh dispatched James Nicolson to the area. Nicolson was able to make two observations from Jirol, 118 mi (190 km) away. Nicolson then took the largest theodolite and headed east, obtaining over 30 observations from five different locations, with the closest being 108 mi (174 km) away from the peak.
Nicolson retreated to Patna on the Ganges to perform the necessary calculations based on his observations. His raw data gave an average height of 30,200 ft (9,200 m) for peak 'b', but this did not take into account light refraction which distorts heights. The number clearly indicated, however, that peak 'b' was higher than Kangchenjunga. Unfortunately, Nicolson came down with malaria and was forced to return home, calculations unfinished. Michael Hennessy, one of Waugh's assistants, had begun designating peaks based on Roman Numerals, with Kangchenjunga named Peak IX, while peak 'b' now became known as Peak XV.
In 1852, stationed at the survey's headquarters in Dehradun, Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the first to identify Everest as the world's highest peak, using trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson's measurements. An official announcement that Peak XV was the highest was delayed for several years as the calculations were repeatedly verified. Waugh began work on Nicolson's data in 1854, and along with his staff spent almost two years working on the calculations, having to deal with the problems of light refraction, barometric pressure, and temperature over the vast distances of the observations. Finally, in March 1856 he announced his findings in a letter to his deputy in Calcutta. Kangchenjunga was declared to be 28,156 ft (8,582 m), while Peak XV was given the height of 29,002 ft (8,840 m). Waugh concluded that Peak XV was "most probably the highest in the world". In actuality, Peak XV was found to be exactly 29,000 feet (8,839 m) high, but was publicly declared to be 29,002 ft (8,840 m). The arbitrary addition of 2 feet (60 cm) was to avoid the impression that an exact height of 29,000 feet was nothing more than a rounded estimate.

Naming

With the height now established, what to name the peak was clearly the next challenge. While the survey was anxious to preserve local names if possible (for example, Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri were local names), Waugh argued that he was unable to find any commonly used local name. Waugh's search for a local name was hampered by Nepal and Tibet being closed to foreigners at the time. Many local names existed, with perhaps the best known in Tibet for several centuries being Chomolungma, which had appeared on a 1733 map published in Paris by the French geographer D'Anville. However, Waugh argued that with the plethora of local names, it would be difficult to favour one specific name over all others. So, he decided that Peak XV should be named after George Everest, his predecessor as Surveyor General of India. He wrote:
I was taught by my respected chief and predecessor, Colonel Sir George Everest to assign to every geographical object its true local or native appellation. But here is a mountain, most probably the highest in the world, without any local name that we can discover, whose native appellation, if it has any, will not very likely be ascertained before we are allowed to penetrate into Nepal. In the meantime the privilege as well as the duty devolves on me to assign…a name whereby it may be known among citizens and geographers and become a household word among civilized nations.
George Everest opposed the name suggested by Waugh and told the Royal Geographical Society in 1857 that Everest could not be written in Hindi nor pronounced by "the native of India". Waugh's proposed name prevailed despite the objections, and in 1865, the Royal Geographical Society officially adopted Mount Everest as the name for the highest mountain in the world. Interestingly, the modern pronunciation of Everest--/ˈɛvərɪst, ˈɛvrɪst/--is in fact different from Sir George's pronunciation of his surname, which was /ˈiːvrɪst/.
The Tibetan name for Mount Everest is Chomolungma or Qomolangma (which means "Saint Mother"), and the Chinese transliteration is Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng which refers to Earth Mother; the Chinese translation is Shèngmǔ Fēng, which refers to Holy Mother. According to English accounts of the mid-19th century, the local name in Darjeeling for Mount Everest was Deodungha (meaning "holy mountain").
In the late 19th century, many European cartographers incorrectly believed that a native name for the mountain was Gaurisankar. This was a result of confusion of Mount Everest with the actual Gauri Sankar, which, when viewed from Kathmandu, stands almost directly in front of Everest.
In the early 1960s, the Nepalese government gave Mount Everest the official name Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा). This name had not previously been used; the local inhabitants knew the mountain as Chomolungma. The mountain was not known and named in ethnic Nepal (that is, the Kathmandu valley and surrounding areas).[citation needed] The government set out to find a Nepalese name for the mountain because the Sherpa/Tibetan name Chomolangma was not acceptable, as it would have been against the idea of unification (Nepalization) of the country.[citation needed]
In 2002, the Chinese People's Daily newspaper published an article making a case against the continued use of the English name for the mountain in the Western world, insisting that it should be referred to by its Tibetan name. The newspaper argued that the Chinese (in nature a Tibetan) name preceded the English one, as Mount Qomolangma was marked on a Chinese map more than 280 years ago.[17]

(Source Wikipedia)