Woman becomes first in India to climb sacred mountain Agasthyakoodam after ban on females lifted

Dhanya Sanal says trek crossed 'extremely tough terrain that demands extra physical fitness'

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 16 January 2019 17:52
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Dhanya Sanal is the first woman to trek to sacred Kerala mountain only men were allowed on after court lifts ban

A woman has become the first to climb a sacred mountain in India which until recently was off-limits to females.

Dhanya Sanal reached the peak of Agasthyakoodam, in the southern state of Kerala, on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old made the trek after the state’s High Court ordered women could not be excluded from climbing the mountain on in November last year.

Local tribes opposed women ascending the 1,868m (6,128ft) mountain because it has a statue of a Hindu sage associated with celibacy.

Ms Sanal told the Times of India newspaper other aspiring trekkers should prepare for “extremely tough terrain that demands extra physical fitness”.

She was the only woman in a group of 100 trekkers, which was accompanied by two female forest officials, the BBC reported.

Ms Sanal told the broadcaster she had been “ready to turn back” if stopped by tribespeople, and said while she encountered protesters they did not prevent her from continuing her climb.

Officials in the group told the BBC more than 100 women had registered for treks in over the next month.

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It comes after two women made history by entering an ancient Sabarimala temple, which is among India’s holiest Hindu sites, on 2 January.

Temple staff said women of menstruating age, defined as between 10 and 50, were banned from praying at the temple.

One of the women is recovering in hospital after relatives allegedly beat her with a wooden plank for entering.

Violent protests swept Kerala after the women visited Sabarimala, with one person killed and 15 injured.

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