Hyderabad: Hyderabad’s Virat Chandra Telukunta, the youngest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the age of seven, was on Monday conferred the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a virtual event.
Chandra, who hails from Trimulgherry, climbed the Kilimanjaro, the tallest African mountain at about 5,895 metres, on March 6, 2021, along with his coach Bharath Thammineni, a professional mountaineer.
Chandra was exploring various hobbies when he heard that two of his cousins had trekked in the mountains of Uttarakhand. His father, Sharath Chandra Telukunta, said that the child showed great interest in scaling mountains.
“Fortunately, we were able to approach coach Bharath who was stuck in the city at the time due to the lockdown. After a month-long initial evaluation of Virat’s physical fitness, Bharath was confident of his abilities,” the father explained.
Bharath, the coach, said he found Virat highly mature for his age with deep insights into various issues. “When we first met, I had observed that he was not speaking like a typical seven-year-old but as a mature individual. Mountaineering is a massive risk for any kid of that age. But he showed great commitment all through the five months of training.”
Chandra was rigorously trained at the Moulali fort, which he climbed every alternate day.
The Bal Puraskar awardee aspires to scale the seven tallest peaks in the seven continents in the next two years, while Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia and Mt. Elbrus in Russia are his immediate targets. The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar is a civilian award conferred to children for achievements in innovation, scholastic, sports, arts, culture, social service and music....