Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pole master who skied both North and South Poles in a year, doctors the classroom

Adventurer Ajeet Bajaj gets going in the “Get Active” program

New Delhi, 2007—Modern Lifestyle related diseases have led to a growing concern in children and adults alike, impacting overall health of the society. One year since its inception in 2006, ‘Get Active’ program has been actively trying to purge this menace through support from govt and schools.

Patronage by Govt of Delhi, Get Active is strengthened by a dedicated membership of 60 schools in Delhi and Mumbai, some of them being Delhi Public School, Noida, Loreto Convent, and Ryan International.

Now launched in Mumbai, Get Active is currently celebrating success and intensifying efforts with Mr. Ajit Bajaj, Internationally renowned adventurist to be the primary motivator in one of its premier schools of the country-the Loretto Convent.

Mr.Ajeet Bajaj, an Indian Icon in himself needs no introduction. The first Indian to have scaled both the North and the South Pole, he had the proud privilege of unfurling the Indian flag at the South Pole on Republic Day.

“It's all about the challenge. Why else would one climb a mouth or freeze in the ice.” Bajaj told when asked why he had undertaken such an expedition in such short interval.

As a motivational speaker, he urged students to dream and follow through. “You must dream big but dreaming alone is not enough; action needs to follow thereafter.” said Bajaj in one of his sessions. “The strong wave of happiness and satisfaction that I experienced on unfurling the Indian flag was much more than the trouble and the pain I faced in reaching there. It made me pick up my second and a much more difficult expedition to the South Pole.”

Encouraging students to face any hardship to release their dream, Bajaj told them not to focus disproportionately on potential set backs while pursuing their dreams. He suggested that every individual’s aim in life is to unlock a door that invites him to discover meaning to his existence. And the key to such a lock lay in the word POT: Preparation, Opportunity, Take action.

Several students said they enjoyed the interactions because it was more than a typical lecture about motivation. They hailed Loretto management’s one of its kind, ‘Get Active’ Club initiative, a far thought vision designed most appropriate to promote active lifestyle among the student community.

Bajaj wore his distinction well. Through out the sessions, it stood apart with a radiance of good health—his rounded head, broad shoulders and the winning countenance bore the testimony. His preparation for the expedition was enthralling as well as captivating. Bajaj took to training at 5 AM every morning. He started off by strapping a tyre onto himself and dragging it in a field. This was followed by a game of tennis, a workout and hours of cycling. A good deal of his diet is made up of quaker oatmeal fibers, which he used to take since the days of his north pole expedition.

Mr. Bajaj’s energy was palpable, strongly felt by every audience. The Get Active Health counselors, Dr.Prakhar Gupta and Ms.Tanusri Misra, could see a ray of hope in every little child after the presentation was concluded.

Launched on 11th Jan, 2006, Get Active, an Annual National School Contact Movement has been working towards instilling and promoting Active Lifestyle in Children and Adolescents. In its nascent year, comprising Doctors, Psychologists, Nutritionists and Lifestyle Experts, Get Active has impacted lifestyles of 70,000 children across Delhi and NCR. While students openly declare an increased intake of healthy items and decreased sedentary pursuits, schools incorporate Get Active in their curriculum.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DoE India - DIA April 2008

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - Incredible India!

Early morning on Tuesday 3rd April, 20 high-school students from Years 10-12 began their journey to Incredible India, embarking on a Himalayan mountain trek for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We were accompanied by Mrs. Sunita Dias and Ms. Helen Dowse. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is an award for personal achievement that seeks to empower an individual by setting personal goals to improve themselves. It is divided into four components: a service, skill, physical recreation and expeditions. The program is offered at three different levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

We travelled to many different important sites such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Haridwar, the Holy Ganges, Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb. Going to these places itself exposed us to many different modes of transportation, from planes to trains and from buses to rafts.

After sightseeing in Delhi and Agra, we arrived at Snow Leopard Adventure’s Tuscar Campsite in a national park home to wild elephants. Due to torrential rains, we had to cancel our trekking session for the first day. Nothing could dampen our spirits, so we switched over to yoga and an easy session of afternoon rafting on the Ganges. We had even befriended our campsite insects and lived with no luxury washroom facilities or running water. Despite all of this, we loved it! Our camp instructors, Mr. Marty and Mr. Negi, were kind enough to organize a stimulating biking session for us in the hills, a treat for all nature enthusiasts. . On our route back, we visited an orphanage run by the Divya Prem Sewa Mission for children whose parents were victims of leprosy. 20 out of the 140 children here were orphans. DIA’s Duke of Edinburgh group made a monetary contribution and looks forward to supporting this orphanage in the future.

The two-day trek covered 35 km and over 3000-3200 feet in the Himalayan foothills. It brought out the group’s team spirit, a sense of adventure, caring for each other and required us to share our supplies. It was a relief rafting in the chilly waters of the Ganges after our tiring trek. We cruised along some rapids, however some of us were seen floating along the river after the rapids.

During our stay along the Beach Camp-site on the Ganges, we had the opportunity to experience an evening aarti (traditional evening prayers) along the banks of the picturesque Ganges. We were surprised to see many foreigners, as it seemed that this was a very popular tourist destination known for its religious significance. We spent a pleasant evening shopping in the nearby town of Rishikesh and even learned how to bargain, a handy skill to have here in Dubai. We explored New Delhi’s most cultural market, Dilli Haat. It gathers some of the many different ethnicities in India and provides a place for them to sell handmade goods and crafts. We purchased traditional Indian clothes which we were all clad in on the plane back to Dubai.
The whole experience gave us a sense of achievement and made us truly value all that the luxuries that we take for granted (such as the toilet!). The trip will long be remembered for all that we have learned. We strongly recommend the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award not only for the worth it carries on university applications but for the lifelong skills, values and experiences it comes with.

This trip would not have been possible without our instructors Mr. Marty and Mr Negi from Snow Leopard Adventures-India and our supervising teacher Ms. Helen Dowse, and Mrs. Sunita Dias (DoE Coordiantor) for coordinating such a challenging and successful trip! Thank you all! It was so appreciated that the plans for the next trip are already well underway...

By Aahan Bhojani, 11C

DoE article Year Book 2008

Negotiating steep Himalayan trails, battling through the ruthless rapids in the river Ganga, yes I am talking about the Duke of Edinburg’s Award (International Award for Young People) expedition to India which took place in April.
It was a physically challenging experience which helped us, a group of 20 students, develops into more responsible individuals and fostered values such as companionship, co-operation and mutual respect amongst us. We learned to work together and put aside personal differences to achieve success in group activities such as river rafting.

The tough living conditions drew us closer together as a group and we enjoyed this trying experience thousands of miles away from the luxury of our homes. Our will to go on and determination were tested on a 7 hour trek, we pushed forward as group, the sense of achievement and accomplishment was uplifting.

All of us will have fond memories of this trip and will cherish the moments we spent together and the experiences that changed us. To our DoE coordinator Mrs. Sunita Dias, who was behind it all and Ms. Helen Dowse our chaperon teacher a sincere thank you from the 20 of us.

Hardik Goel
Grade 12A

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Opening Adventure Gateways at Orchha!

Snow Leopard Adventures, is notching up with the launch of its sixth camp extending adventure tourism to the heart of India. The five Snow Leopard Adventures campsites located at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas promote minimum impact tourism and this is the concept that is being extended to the upcoming campsite at Orchha in Madhya Pradesh.

The name Orccha literally translates to, “hidden”. True to its name, Orccha lies obscured from sight amidst lush green dark woods along the River Betwa. The Betwa River and the picturesque terrain, along with the magnificent ruins make it an adventurer’s paradise. The river is wide and its placid flow is intermittently broken by Grade I to Grade II rapids. The river is good for easy Kayaking and rafting. An adventure Island, formed between the Betwa and the Jamini rivers is waiting to be explored. The rock faces at the island are ideal for easy to moderate rock climbing and rappelling while the forest trails are a nature lover’s heaven. The Orccha Nature Reserve, offers great trails for jeep safaris and cycling.

Snow Leopard Adventures has set up Camp Blue Bull with 16 safari tents on the banks of the Betwa River. The camp offers guests an opportunity to combine the thrill of adventure with the rich cultural heritage of the region making it an exciting getaway out of doors in the heart of India!!

Activities Possible
• Trekking
• Wilderness Orientation hikes
• Cycling on forest trails
• Nature Walk & Bird watching
• Rock Climbing/ Rappelling
• Kayaking
• Rafting (depending on the water level)
• Sightseeing of Orchha (by foot/ on bicycles)
• Light & sound show

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Almanac 2009

Snow Leopard presents a bouquet of adventure options...

The Bicycle Diaries, Alaknanda Expedition, Call Of The Wild, Dhauladhar Trek
A Walk In The Clouds, Hello! Blue Skies, Spiti Jeep Safari, Trek To Valley Of Flowers, Ultimate Garhwal Adventure, Thar Desert Camel Safari, Soul Curry, Kali Sarda Expedition....


Friday, January 2, 2009

Teesta River Expedition

"Kanchendzonga! Perched on a hillock the four of us sat in dumbstruck silence gazing at the majestic mountain, the third highest in the world. A clear cloudless morning with no haze afforded a panoramic view of the entire range. A plume on the summit indicated clear weather.

A gentle breeze swept the stark, treeless expanse as the silence of the morning was broken by the clashing of cymbals at Enchey monastery, 1000 feet below us in Gangtok. Somewhere between the Kanchendzonga range and our present location lay the turbulent and as yet uncharted upper sections of the Teesta river ………

Soon we rounded a bend on the river to hear the roar of the first rapid. With furrowed brows, pounding hearts and adrenalin induced dry mouths, we gazed at a big stopper ( recycling wave ) in the middle of the rapid….Paddling hard we hit the first section of the rapid. The raft buckled and bent as it reluctantly went over the crest of the wave splashing all inside with a generous doze of icy-spray. Delirious with delight, we pulled up immediately to survey the next tricky rapid…."

(Expedition log - Ajeet Bajaj, Indo-Canadian Teesta River Exploratory Expedition, December 1986)

Adventurous Ajeet

· First Indian to ski to the North Pole.
· First Indian to ski to both the North Pole and the South Pole.
· One of the very few people on Earth to have skied to both the Poles, that too, within a span of one year.
· First Asian to have rafted and kayaked the most challenging rivers on Earth spanning six continents.

Ajeet Bajaj is an explorer, adventurer and a professional in the field of adventure tourism. Ajeet proudly unfurled the Indian flag at the Geographical South Pole on the Indian Republic Day, 2007 making him the first Indian to ski to both the North Pole and the South Pole. He reached the North Pole on April, 26, 2006. He is also one of the few people on Earth to have skied to both ends of the planet. Enduring temperatures that went below minus 70 degrees Celsius, crossing 50-feet high ridges of ice, handling open icy water leads and problems arising out of shifting Polar ice, crossing crevasses, tackling blizzards and wind speeds exceeding 60 km per hour, Ajeet had to face some of the most extreme conditions our planet has to offer. Ajeet was officially given our national flag at a ceremony in South Block prior to his departure for both the expeditions.

With over 20 years of experience in adventure sports, Ajeet is the first Asian to have rafted and kayaked some of the most challenging rivers in six continents of the world. Ajeet has won a bronze medal in the national games for kayaking and one silver and two bronze medals in international rafting competitions in Switzerland and Siberia, Russia. He has captained an international team for world white water championships in Turkey. Ajeet is a qualified climbing instructor from the French National School of Alpinism and Skiing and has experienced a host of adventure sports including skiing, sky diving, rock climbing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, bungee jumping and canyoning.

Ajeet is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK and is the President of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India. He is on the consultative committee on Tourism, Planning Commission of India and a member of National Tourism Advisory Board. Ajeet is Managing Director, Snow Leopard Adventures P. Ltd and Director, Himalayan Environment Trust.