The 33-year old Namratha Nandish, who earned the sobriquet of the ‘Alpine Girl’ by trekking to 50 alpine lakes in Jammu and Kashmir in a record time of four months, says it just started as an idea.
Namratha told reporters, “Nothing was predetermined. It all started with an idea of my husband, Abhishek who insisted on a visit to Srinagar in previous winters. He wanted to see the frozen Dal Lake.
“We started our journey to Kashmir Valley on January 26 and checked into a local hotel. I had done my homework and had decided to trek 33 lakes during the season as a birthday gift to myself. I turned 33 this year”.
Arthritis did not deter the resolve of Namratha although the cold in the mountains is believed to aggravate the pain.
Back home in Bengaluru, she works as an HR manager in an IT company.
“Work from home facility due to the pandemic came handy and I decided to achieve my goal during the trekking season in 2020 which started in mid June”, she said.
Syed Tahir, Namratha’s local trek leader, who accompanied her to most of the lakes, recalls meeting the ‘Alpine Girl’.
“When I interacted with her and she told me about her dream, I normally asked whether she had any medical condition.
“The moment she told me about some kind of an arthritis problem in her knee, my eyes virtually popped out in surprise, but all my apprehensions faded on seeing her determination.
“Undoubtedly, she is the first female who has completed 50 lakes in one season as no one has been able to achieve the feat of covering 50 Alpine Lakes in one season spread across the Kashmir Valley, to the best of my knowledge”, Syed said.
Namratha started her expedition from the Tulian Lake and ended it at Shilsar Lake in Anantnag-Kishtwar region of J&K.
Recalling her expedition, she said, “I have trekked around 460 kms over 31 days.
“I wanted to do only 33 lakes as a birthday gift to myself, but then “yeh dil mange more’. I decided to reach the feat of 50 lakes.
“During my last visit I suffered Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) as the height was around 13,000 feet at Murgan top. But, then my inner strength and support of Tahir and my family made me achieve it”.
Talking about the hospitality of the local people, she said, “The people are so hospitable and warm here that I want to spend more and more time with them. I didn’t feel like going as the people here made me feel one among them.
“Kashmir is a wonderful tourist destination and involving more and more women as guides to trekking groups would definitely increase the number of women visitors into the Valley and this can become an alternative business for the local women”.