Mumbai: Kaamya Karthikeyan, daughter of an Indian Navy Commander S Karthikeyan, has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar 2021. She is the only girl among five children from Maharashtra who have bagged the PMRBSP-2021 honour for their excellence in different fields.
The other children who have received the award are – Shreenabh Muojesh Agrawal, Kameshwar Jagannath Waghmare, Archit Rahul Pani and Soneet Sisolekar.
Kaamya, 13, a student of Class VIII of the Navy Children School here, was awarded for her unprecedented feats in mountaineering and this is the highest award for citizens below 18 years.
An accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Carnatic Music student, besides pursuing adventure cycling, skiing, playing the violin and the guitar, the mountaineering prodigy Kaamya, has scaled several peaks globally at a young age and has many other feats to her credit that have brought laurels to the country.
Currently, Kaamya is on a mission ‘SAHAS’ to complete the Explorers Grandslam, a challenge to climb the highest peaks in all seven continents, ski on the North Pole and South Pole, at 14 by next year, aiming to create another world record, said her proud parents Cdr. Karthikeyan and his wife Lavanya.
In her adventurous quest, Kaamya has already become the youngest girl in the world to scale any peak above 20,000-feet (6,000-metres), scaling Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina, the highest mountain in South America in Feb. 2020, and in June 2018, she not only scaled Europe’s highest peak, Mt. Elbrus but also came down skiing.
In Oct. 2018, she conquered Australia’s tallest peak, Mt. Kosciuszko and in Oct. 2017, became the second youngest girl from Asia to climb atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, aged 9.
Earlier, in May 2017, she also became the second youngest girl to reach the Everest Base Camp (17,600 feet) and had done her first Himalayan Trek at the age of 9.
On how she imbibed the love for adventure and even inspired her own mother Lavanya, Cdr. Karthikeyan smiled and said it was “because of Kaamya’s hair”.
“When she was very young, 8-9, she used to accompany me on different trips, but I could not manage her long hair…Then, my wife Lavanya offered to help out by joining Kaamya. In the process, the mother-daughter duo jointly scaled 3 top summits in Africa, Russia and Australia,” Cdr. Karthikeyan recounted to IANS.
In Aug. 2017, the Karthikeyan trio went on a family adventure trip – to the treacherous Ladakh peak, Mt. Stok Kangri, where Kaamya set her world record as the youngest girl to scale any peak above 20K-feet (6K-metres).
“Through SAHAS, Kaamya wants to inspire a multitude of children to pursue their dreams and encourage people to adapt to an outdoor lifestyle for better health,” said Cdr. Karthikeyan.
In the coming summer months, Kaamya plans to attempt Alaska’s Mt. Denali (20,310-feet), the highest peak in North America, and to ski to the North Pole as part of her global record pursuit.