Kochi’s 64-year-old trekking guide

Life’s setbacks have failed to deter trekking guide Sudha Chandran

Updated - March 08, 2020 08:23 am IST

Published - March 08, 2020 12:07 am IST - Kochi

Sudha Chandran (Sudhamma) looks diminutive but few people can match the 64-year-old’s passion when it comes to nature and wildlife.

Not many know that she began her tryst with nature in 1989, when her husband Chandran died. Defying her age and a bout with cancer, she continues to take nature enthusiasts on treks along forests, especially the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekad. She is on the move from 6.30 a.m. up to 10.30 p.m. every day with rare zeal and enthusiasm.

Guests, especially foreigners, seek her service since she made it to the Lonely Planet travel guide.

“Moreover, guests have given high ratings for Jungle Bird - my homestay in platforms like TripAdvisor. Almost every day, I accompany ornithologists, scientists, nature lovers etc., on treks and bird watching sojourns,” she said.

Thorough with habitat

In the past three decades, she has come to know of at least 170 of the 325 types of birds in the sanctuary , their habitat, and breeding season.

“After my husband’s death, I was confused and worried and remained at home for a week. Then the mother in me gained strength, for I had to take care of my two school-going children.”

She joined her mother and a neighbour at a tea shop at Thattekad. She attended classes and nature trails led by ornithologist Sugathan, who was a student of ornithologist Salim Ali.

Soon after, Sudhamma was able to send her children to Mysuru for higher studies. Her son Girish Chandran is a lawyer and often accompanies nature lovers on night treks.

“Being a good cook, my daughter-in-law Sandhya leads in preparing food for guests at our homestay. Nature and wildlife are a blessing to human kind. Sans them, our existence will be under challenge,” she says.

Sudhamma also finds time to help widows, the elderly, and cancer patients. “I underwent 25 radiations for cervical cancer in 2019. Now I am back on track and do not even have time to think of cancer. This could also be because I have a bold and positive outlook towards life. I seldom get tired and ensure that I retain a smile on my face.”

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