Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Bhawna Dehariya, a mountaineer from the city, unfurled the national tricolour on Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, on August 15 last year.
Hailing from a small town Tamia located in Chhindwara district of the State, Bhawna has scaled Mt Everest, too.
In an interview with Free Press, Bhawna talked about her journey from being a small-town girl to becoming a mountaineer
What made you decide to unfurl the national flag on the highest peak of Europe, Mount Elbrus?
Leaving behind my 15-month-old daughter was undoubtedly one of the toughest decisions I’ve made it. I wanted to prove that motherhood and pursuing one’s dreams can coexist. It’s a reminder that while challenges may be steep, they are never insurmountable.
How did you strike a balance between motherhood and your passion for mountaineering?
Both are the beautiful experiences of my life. My family is very supportive and this makes I keep going ahead. Even my little daughter Siddhi Mishra ‘Ginni’ keeps cheering me up.
Can you share a memory that stands out from your Mount Elbrus Expedition?
The memory that lingers vividly is the moment I stood atop the summit of Mount Elbrus, feeling a rush of emotions. It was a culmination of relentless dedication and the power of pushing beyond limits. Unfurling the national flag was a memorable experience.
How did you get drawn to mountaineering?
I was born on November 12, 1991, in Tamia village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. When I was in Class seven I read a chapter on Bachendri Pal. It inspired me immensely. Thereafter, I did my Masters in Physical Education and PG Diploma in Naturopathy and Yogic Science. Also, I hold a ‘Judge Course: Sports Climbing’ certification from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and achieved an “A Grade” in both basic and advanced mountaineering courses from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi.
How will you define your mountaineering journey so far and what are your future plans?
My journey in mountaineering has been an incredible adventure so far, and I’m deeply committed to pursuing my passion further. My next steps involve conquering the remaining challenges on my Seven Summit mission. Mount Denali in North America and Vinson Massif in Antarctica are the two peaks that await my ascent.
What skills have you acquired from your professional experience?
I am currently working as a Sports & Culture Consultant for EY (Ernst & Young) in the Technical Support Unit Department of Tribal Affairs, Madhya Pradesh Government. I’ve served as a Brand Ambassador for ‘Run Bhopal Run’ Marathon for three years. I have been National Coordinator of All India Council of Physical Education (AICPE) since 2016.
What are your key accomplishments in the field of sports and mountaineering?
I climbed Mount Everest on May 22, 2019, and have conquered various peaks across the world. These include Mount Elbrus in Europe, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Mount Aconcagua in South America, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Manirang in Himachal, and Mount DKD 2nd in Garhwal. I am the first woman from India to hold the record of 24-hour expeditions to both the peaks of Mount Elbrus. I have also had the privilege of being a TEDx speaker twice, sharing my insights and experiences on prominent platforms. I have conducted over 50 motivational sessions across colleges, aiming to inspire and empower young minds.
My involvement extends to organising events that celebrate sports, culture, and tourism. I played a crucial role in organising the Bhoj Adventure Fest in Bhopal and the Patalkot Adventure Festival in Patalkot, District-Chhindwara. I've been associated with the 'Run Khitauli: Run for Van' Marathon and organised the 'Chhindwara Marathon' with District Archeology, Tourism & Culture Council (DATCC), Chhindwara in year 2022, promoting tourism and unity through campaigns like 'Har Ghar Tiranga' and 'Chhindwara Gaurav Diwas. I have also contributed in organising ‘Jal Mahotsav 2020’, Hanumantiya Khandwa, by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. I hold the Guinness World Records title for promoting Indian Himalaya, recognised for my efforts with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. I was mentioned in PM Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat' and received the 'Devi Award' from the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath and various other accolades.
What is your message for young mountaineers?
Keep in mind that every summit is scaled through perseverance and preparation. Each step towards your goal is a step towards your dreams.