Jyothi Raj’s story is a story of grit and determination and self-discovery. He was born to a poor family in the state of Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Fearing punishment at the age of seven, he ran away from home to Bagalkot, in the nearby state of Karnataka, which he made his new home. “I don’t remember how I ended up here,” he said.
He supported himself for a while through a string of odd jobs at various shops, and later worked as domestic help with a family in the fort town of Chitradurga. One day, the family accused Jyothi Raj of stealing money – this was the last straw. Bitter and disgusted with life, he decided to end it all by jumping off a cliff.
Jyothi Raj chose a rock and decided to climb it before plunging to his death. The huge rock presented a dilemma – there was no easy route to reach the top. But Jyothi Raj managed to scale it anyway, by observing and emulating the monkeys around him. And when he got to the top, he was rewarded with cheers and applause from passers-by who had observed his feat. He didn’t want to die anymore. Instead, he became India’s most famous monkey climber.
Jyothi Raj is also known as “Kothi Raju” which means “Monkey King”. The most unique think about him is that he climbs Chitradurga Fort without safety harnesses. Surprisingly, Raj is the only person to have climbed the highest waterfall of Karnataka, Jog falls which is 830 ft high. The most amazing fact is that Jyothi Raj scaled the waterfall in the direction opposite to that of the flow.
No other climber has attempted the feat. Although he has climbed up the Falls a few times earlier along different routes (he was called thrice to retrieve dead bodies lodged on the rocks), he had never attempted an ascent under the water. In climbing terms, what he did was a ‘free solo’, that is, without the use of any safety equipment. There are a few free-soloists of world acclaim, including the French ‘Spiderman’, Alain Robert. What Jyothi Raj did was a feat that any climber would have been proud of.
A big fan of French climber Alain Robert, Jyothi Raj hopes to achieve his success and one day open a school for climbers.
Jyothi also said ‘An Indian should climb the Burj Khalifa and set a world record. If I or one of my students do it, then I will be really happy.’
Courtesy: dailymail.co.uk, amazingindia blog