First Woman Climbs a Sacred Mountain in India

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First Woman Climbs a Sacred Mountain in India

Phoebe Reiter, News Editor

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In India, women were not permitted to climb a sacred mountain called Agasthyakoodam. Agasthyakoodam is located in the state of Kerala and is a part of the Sahyadri Ranges of Western Ghats. Reaching the 6,128 ft. peak requires a journey of 22 kilometers, and according to Independent.co.uk, the terrain is “‘extremely tough … [and] demands extra physical fitness.'”

Recently, however, the High Court of the state ruled that women should not be barred from ascending the peak. The reason for this decision is due to the claim that “restrictions cannot be imposed on the basis of gender of a participant while granting permission to visitors to trek the peak.” As a result, a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry from Thiruvananthapuram, at the age of 38, was allowed to begin her journey to the top of the mountain. The woman’s name is Dhanya Sanal, and she was the only woman out of the 100 climbers planning to reach the peak on the first day available to women.

Members of the Kani tribe are upset with this situation, due to the fact that they believe the mountain range represents their deity. The mountain contains a statue of a Hindu sage, Agastya Muni, that stands for celibacy. The tribe believes that women approaching the sacred land will interfere with their worship traditions, and therefore expressed outrage at the High Court’s decision. While Sanal was met with protestors as she began the trek on January 14th, she was allowed safe passage.

This is a huge success for the women rights group Pennuroma, which has been attempting to garner permission for women to have the ability to climb the mountain for years. They had filed the petition to the High Court in January of 2018, jump-starting this outcome. However, because of the fact that the court announced their ruling on the same day that the year’s booking began, no women were able to register for the year of 2018 as all of the spots had already been filled. Due to this, women had to wait until 2019 to scale the peak.

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