Legendary mountaineer Govindaraj dead

V. Govindaraj (left) with Tenzing Norgay during his training days.  

Staff Correspondent

MYSORE: V. Govindaraj, one of the foremost persons to introduce the concept of mountaineering in the State, passed away at his residence in Mysore on Tuesday. He was 77.

Mr. Govindaraj is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.

He was the first person from Karnataka to get mountaineering lessons from the legendary Tenzing Norgay in Darjeeling during 1963-64.

The Deccan Mountaineering League (DML), set up by Mr. Govindaraj with the support of industrialist F.K. Irani, the founder of Ideal Jawa Motorcycle Company, encouraged many youngsters to take up mountaineering. Mr. Govindaraj, who served in the railways, was involved in several activities of the DML till 2004.

In 1966, Mr. Govindaraj suffered an accident after conquering Bhagirathi-II peak with three other climbers in which he lost most of his toes due to frostbite.

He was airlifted to Military Hospital at Bareilly. “When he was in the hospital, someone told him that he cannot continue mountaineering anymore due to the accident. It was only after this incident he pursued mountaineering with more interest and popularised it in the State,” says his son, Prasanna.

Being an avid wrestler, Mr. Govindaraj also pursued the sport with great passion. He and veteran Kannada actor and producer the late M.P. Shankar underwent training in wrestling in one “garadi” here.

“It was due to his talent and proximity to M.P. Shankar, my father got a chance to work as an associate director in Dr. Rajkumar-starrer Kannada blockbuster Gandada Gudi. He also worked in two Tamil films as a stunt master. His was a stunt master in the Kannada film Savalige Saval,” Mr. Prasanna recalled.

According to his family members, Mr. Govindaraj was also training police officers. Despite being one of the foremost mountaineering campaigners in the State, he did not get any recognition from the Government.

Meanwhile, International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (IAMAS), Mysore, has mourned the death of Mr. Govindaraj.

Describing him as a legendary mountaineer, D.S.D. Solanki and Shankar Subramanya of IAMAS expressed their condolences over his death. “The country has lost one of the foremost campaigners of adventure sports,” they said.