Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world with an elevation of 8,586 m (28,169 ft) and located along the India-Nepal border in the Himalayas. Kangchenjunga is also the name of the section of the Himalayas and means "The Five Treasures of Snows", as it contains five peaks, four of them over 8,450 m (27,720 ft). The treasures represent the five repositories of God, which are gold, silver, gems, grain, and holy books.
Three of the five peaks – main, central, and south – are on the border of North Sikkim in India and Taplejung District of Nepal, while the other two are completely in Taplejung District. The Kangchenjunga Himal includes twelve more peaks over 7,000 m (23,000 ft).
The Kangchenjunga transboundary landscape is shared by Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and comprises 14 protected areas with a total of 6,032 km2 (2,329 sq mi): Kanchenjunga Conservation Area located in Nepal, Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve, Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, Mainam Wildlife Sanctuary, Singhba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary located in Sikkim, Jorepokhari Salamander Sanctuary, Singhalila National Park, Senchel Wildlife Sanctuary, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Neora Valley National Park located in Darjeeling, and Torsa Strict Nature Reserve located in Bhutan.
These protected areas are habitats for many globally significant plant species such as rhododendrons and orchids and many endangered flagship species such as snow leopard, Asiatic black bear, red panda, Himalayan musk deer, blood pheasant and chestnut-breasted partridge.
The huge massif of Kangchenjunga is buttressed by great ridges running roughly due east to west and north to south, forming a giant 'X'. These ridges contain a host of peaks between 6,000 and 8,000 metres. On the east ridge in Sikkim is Siniolchu (6,888 m/22,600 ft). The west ridge culminates in the magnificent Jannu (7,710 m/25,294 ft) with its imposing north face. To the south, clearly visible from Darjeeling, are Kabru North (7,338 m/24,075 ft), Kabru South (7,316 m/24,002 ft) and Rathong (6,678 m/21,910 ft).
The north ridge, after passing through the minor subpeak Kangchenjunga North (7741 m/25,397 ft), contains the Twins and Tent Peak, and runs up to the Tibetan border by the Jongsong La, a 6,120 m (20,080 ft) pass. Some of the most famous views of Kangchenjunga are from the hill station of Darjeeling. Darjeeling War Memorial is one of the most visited places to observe Kangchenjunga from. On a clear day, it presents an image not so much of a mountain but of a white wall hanging from the sky.
The people of Sikkim revere Kangchenjunga as a sacred mountain. Permission to climb the mountain from the Indian side is rare, but sometimes allowed. Because of its remote location in Nepal and difficult access from India, the Kangchenjunga region is not much explored by trekkers. It has, therefore, retained much of its pristine beauty. In Sikkim too, trekking into the Kangchenjunga region has just been permitted. The Goecha La trek is gaining popularity amongst tourists. It goes to the Goecha La Pass, located right in front of the huge southeast face of Kangchenjunga. Another trek to Green Lake Basin has recently been opened for trekking. This goes to the Northeast side of Kangchenjunga along the famous Zemu Glacier.