Six days and some 10,000 ft later, it is only human that you feel the strain in your leg muscles. The shoulders aren’t forgiving either but it all gets overshadowed by your racing heartbeat. For, there can’t be a better reward than to see yourself finally reaching the summit. Set aside all the physical pain, the victory of overcoming the challenge you set for yourself is a feeling unparalleled. Something 36-year-old Sandhya Chandrasekharayya has experienced countless times as she conquered mountain after mountain. And having witnessed a moment so majestic, it was only natural that the former software engineer decided to turn her passion into her profession. “It’s important to have a career in something that is meaningful to you, not something that you want to retire from,” says the woman, who co-founded what is known as India’s largest trekking community, Indiahikes.
The seeds for the same were sown way back in her childhood when she grew up alongside her backyard farm in Mysuru. “My father was an English professor but he was very interested in tending to our farm. It’s there that I developed this fondness for being outdoors,” she recalls. What further acquainted Chandrasekharayya with her future hobby was her elder brother’s first trek. That’s how the fantasy to one day explore a hidden landscape was formed and being an active member of the National Cadet Corps at school gave her that opportunity over several field trips. Then came the unexpected visit to Uttarakhand, in class 7 where, hearsay about the famed Valley of Flowers, made her determined to one day return for a trek.
Preparing for the climb
Once back in her hometown, a local trek was always part of long weekends when her course work at the National Institute of Engineering allowed it. After she earned her computer science degree, Chandrasekharayya moved to the neighbouring city of Bengaluru and secured a job as a software engineer at IT services firm, Mindtree in 2003. From here she moved on to America Online (AOL) and soon enough formed a community