Nandadevi: A Mountain Trek for Myriad Reasons


Book Review by Tadakamalla Vivek

 ‘Nanda Devi’

Author: Sandeep Madadi

Rumour Books India, Pages 132, Price 299/-

Mountains have been beckoning men for ages. However, why men climb has eluded a firm and finite answer. It must be due to the innate urge of man to measure up to the might of the nature or to test his endurance or to explore the hidden secrets that lie in the labyrinth of nature.

Nanda Devi, nestled in the pantheon of Himalayan peaks, has for long invited intrepid explorers and mountaineers until it was declared a national park in 1982. Since then, its inner sanctuary has remained out-of-bounds for visitors. Yet lovers of mountains and hills yearn for a glimpse of Nanda Devi from afar and for the sheer experience of negotiating the path and the mixed pain and pleasure of trekking the mountain.

Nanda Devi is no mere peak. It is Bliss-giving-Goddess, going by its meaning. It is shrouded in myths and mystique, legend and lore. Sandeep, the author, a techie by profession whose daily grind revolves around the virtual world, coding and algorithms et al, fell to the charm of the peak.

He traversed the treacherous trail leading to the outer sanctuary of the mountain range in cohort with reluctant Raj and ever sulking Sai. Nanda Devi, the eponymous title, is a result of roller-coaster trek the trio went through to get a glimpse of the famed and charmed peak.

A trek in the mountains, howsoever alluring even if covered in snow, is not a pleasure trip by any reckoning. Sandeep doesn’t obfuscate the highs and lows of the trek. There are moments when one feels like terminating the trek what with unpredictable weather, ever looming threat of boulders rolling down the peaks as if to crush the intruders, landslides blocking the narrow walking track and all else characteristic of mountain geography. Sandeep lays bare the threats and thrills of traversing the mountains.

One must also carry an iota of luck on such trips as the author did when he escaped coming under a rolling boulder by a whisker. He is rewarded when he gets to see the magnificence of Nanda Devi and describes it vividly, but not before he has taken the reader through the bulk of the book. Sandeep captures the austere life of those living in the mountains, their existential anxieties and fortitude to face the inevitable.

Chronology of expeditions between 1883 and 2003, first – hand account of explorers of the recent past, a glossary of geographical terms adds to the ease of understanding the narration.

I remember reading an essay titled ‘Why men climb’ by a well-known essayist as part of my undergraduate study. Sandeep’s Nanda Devi may provide an answer to those curious to know.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at