Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dancing to Himalayan Peaks

Dancing Bharatanatyam for over 34 years, 21 years as a professional, I led a very active, athletic life. Ill with Chikkunguniya, a potentially dehabilitating joint infection (like severe arthritis), I was down - both physically and mentally. The disease put my life completely off track. I could not even get up from the bed on my own; carrying a milk packet or walking up a staircase was infinitely challenging. Dancing or trekking was a definite pipe-dream. After almost 9 months, I beat this disease through Yoga.

I began to walk and slowly, started jogging, but not dance. Rather I didn’t want to dance. I was so attached to bharatanatyam that I hated it - as not dancing in these past months had been so painful. Once I was physically better, I went for a trek with my brother’s family to Coorg. And in May 2007, several of us with the help of Chandrasang Foundation planned a trek in the Himalayas - from Gangotri to Baby Shivling via Tapovan and back.

8 days in the serene Himalayas - the ‘heaven on earth’. The deeper you trek inside the Himalayas, she reveals more of her beauty to you. Layers and layers of mountains sketched and colored by the Supreme keeps opening in front of our eyes. At Tapovan, when I saw the gorgeous Bhagirathi peaks on one side, majestic Shivling Peak on the other side and the crystal clear stream flowing in between, in the presence of the power of nature, I felt the power of the Almighty. I used to feel the presence of that power when I danced and had missed it since.

The Himalayas gave me so much of joy that dance seemed inconsequential in comparison. It slowly brought detachment to dance. For the first time, I could imagine a life – happy & constructive, even without dancing.

Shortly after, I googled Chennai Trekkers and discovered CTC, the Chennai Trekkers Club. My husband, Ramprasadh & I, signed up for our first CTC trek in Aug 2008. CTC not only registers members entirely through online forms, but also organizes its treks harnessing internet technologies. The internet vastly increases our ability to pursue our hobbies and interests – as seen never before.

CTC is a non-profit club run entirely by volunteer-members who organize full treks around Tamil Nadu on nearly every weekend. They do this in addition to their full-time day jobs - using tech tools, emails, mailing lists, online site,and calls! This includes, emails and online signup sheets for participating and organizing treks (divvying up responsibilities), full organization including plotting trek paths (GPS!), and post-trek shared experiences (and of any boots or cameras left at Tada or Nagala hills or cars.

The volunteer club consists of techies and other 20-30 something netizens – explains the net savviness of the complete operations. In their company, I started to feel young and energetic. And I haven’t looked back since.

In the over 15 treks in the last sixteen months, across various unknown trails, mountain peaks and crystal clear pools in the Nagala, Sahyadri and Venkateswara ranges, I have discovered, Nature is amazing. Nature is God.

Treks put life back into my life. Friendship and self - lost in deep jungles, sleeping under the open sky, I began rediscovering who I am and what I want.

And in May 2009 after completing a family trek in Gharwal Himalayas towards Bandhar poonch range with Chandra didi, winner of the Padmashree, Arjuna and National Adventure awards, I applied for the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) course. Even though Chandra didi had recommended that I sign-up for this course years earlier, I hadn’t done so. The upper age limit for the course was thirty-five and I had just turned forty. Seeing my passion for trekking and didi’s recommendation, NIM folks indicated they would accept me for the Oct Batch. So, I was rather dejected when, my application was rejected - Rectified after some effort. I then jumped headlong into the 3 month rigorous training prog.

Thus, at the age of forty, I began pursuing my dream of becoming a mountaineer – a journey whose first steps began with rediscovering an enthusiasm for life via treks, a new path made possible by technology.

The author, Indira Kadambi is a bharanatyam teacher, danseuse for over 34 years and aspiring Gregory Mallory in her second avatar.

Posted on behalf of Indira Kadambi.


  1. You could be a writer in your third avatar !!
    Very touching article.
    Radha Rangarajan

  2. Such a beautiful article! It's inspiring for those who are struggling with their dreams, it shows life is much much more than the narrow confines of our love for something, it shows how giving up liberates one and opens up new avenues. Keep on writing Indira....

  3. akka very nice!!!! inspirin!!!indira akka the danseuse,dance teacher,mountaineer and hey a good writer 2.

  4. indira u r the best of the best..u have shear strength and courage..and will which ll tk u to Mt. EVEREST..1 day i am sure..u will rock.. i look on u as my inspiration...jst be u cr....

  5. Nice blog....keep on writing...


  6. Muy bien...lovely!!! enjoyed your journey from a dancer to an aspiring mountaineer..but once a dancer always a you...keep writing..Archana

  7. It is inspiring to read about your single minded determination and the tremendous innner strength and passion that you have in you to try and excel in un-chartered ventures.........u r a pint sized "ATOM BOMB" with a "BUNDLE OF ENERGY" raring to EXPLODE........Keep it Best Wishes are always with you.


  8. Remember reading sometime ago about the most famous 3 words in mountaineering... Somebody asked Mallory "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" And he replied "Because it's there!".

    It's unbelievable that he was there on almost top at 1924.. Sad end though...

  9. Way to go Indira, wish you scale greater heights!

  10. Very inspiring and I never knew Chikkunguniya was this bad.

  11. So inspiring Akka! I am so happy for you. You are an amazing adventurer and a real go getter.

  12. nice one to read indu. share more of ur experience we can relive it. we r proud of u.



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