DNA Special: All about Radhanath Sikdar, the man who measured Mount Everest for the first time ever


Do you know why and how the world’s highest mountain peak got its name Mount Everest? History has taught us that in 1856 the Royal Geographical Society named the highest mountain peak in the world as ‘Mount Everest’. It was named after Sir George Everest, who was the head of the survey and map-making organization Survey of India from 1830 to 1843. Sir George Everest died on December 2, 1866.

But why is the name of Mount Everest not Mount Radhanath Sikdar?

Radhanath Sikdar was a great mathematician of India and it was he who for the first time measured the height of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain peak. But the British robbed him of his credit and gave it to Sir George Everest, who was not even aware that there could be a mountain peak in the world higher than Kanchenjunga.

Radhanath Sikdar was born in Calcutta, United Bengal in the year 1813 and since childhood he was very much interested in reading and writing. His family’s financial condition was not good. In such a situation, he had only one option to somehow get scholarship. And he got success in achieving scholarship.

In the year 1824, he got admission in the Hindu school of Calcutta, known now as Presidency University. His favorite subject was mathematics, so he pursued his education in this subject.

In 1831, when he got a job as a computer in the Survey of India, Sir George was the director of Survey of India.

Computer was not invented at that time. People used to do all the calculations themselves and such people in Survey of India were called ‘Computer’, because the basic job of a computer is to calculate.

In the 1830s, the Survey of India team came close to the Himalayan mountain range. At that time, the peak of Kanchanjanga mountain was considered to be the highest mountain peak in the world.

But later a mountain peak named Peak 15 was identified and the work of this measurement was handed over to Radhanath Sikdar. Mount Everest was previously called Peak 15.

At that time, foreigners were not allowed to enter the border of Nepal, so Radhanath Sikdar could not go there. But from a distance, he calculated the height of Peak 15 with the help of a special tool and TRIGNOMETRY formulas used in mathematics, and this height came to 8839 meters.

In the year 1852, he gave this information to Andrew Scott Waugh, who was the director of the Survey of India after Sir George Everest. But you will be surprised to know that Andrew Scott Waugh did not tell anyone about this success of Radhanath Sikdar for four years.

He assessed Radhanath Sikdar’s claim for four years and he finally came to the conclusion that Radhanath Sikdar’s information is completely correct. As director, Andrew Scott Waugh had a duty to give credit to Radhanath Sikdar, but he did not.

Andrew Scott Waugh considered Sir George Everest as his mentor and that is why he sent a proposal to rename the ‘Peak 15’ mountain peak to Mount Everest and the proposal was also accepted.

And in this way the credit for measuring the official height of Mount Everest was taken away from Radhanath Sikdar. And the highest mountain peak in the world was named after an Englishman who had not even seen it.


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