Fashion photographer-turned-adventurer Yogesh Kardiles website works to keep alive the Sahyadris through audio-visual documentation of the region.
It started off as a disastrous adventure for Yogesh Kardile back in his college days,when he decided to go trekking with a group of his friends near Lonavala. Unprepared but ambitious,this bunch of friends faced many obstacles and misadventures but Kardile fell in love with the Sahyadri mountain ranges a love affair he has sustained since the past 13 years or so.
Now,a fashion photographer and a full-time adventurer,32-year-old Kardile has been working with documenting the beauty of the Western Ghats since 2000. Through his website and NGO,Amazingsahyadri.in ,he hopes to keep alive the Sahyadris with a collection of over one lakh photos,eco-friendly tours,documentaries and voluntary work in the region.
The Western Ghats or the Sahyadris constitute a mountain range along the western side of India. The stretch ranges from the states of Maharashtra,Goa,Karnataka,Tamil Nadu and Kerala,and end at Kanyakumari,at the southern tip of India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. Home to over 5,000 varieties of flowering plants,139 mammal species,508 bird species and 179 amphibian species,more than 300 globally-threatened species are found in the Western Ghats.
Kardile confesses that his interest in the Sahyadris started because of their legendary history related to Shivaji Maharaj. We all identify with the Himalayas because they are supposed to be holy for us. But there always has been a romantic notion about the Sahyadris. They have valour,bravery and courage in their history, he says,adding that the Sahyadris boast of 350 forts,150 of which were built by Shivaji Maharaj in over 35 years.
Kardile rues the fact that people are unaware of the region’s unbelievable diversity. For instance,Masayi Pathar in Kolhapur is home to the stunning natural stone art formations created millions of years ago. It is similar to England’s Stonehenge site but was formed naturally as a result of weathering and heavy rain.
Last year,Kardile and his associates announced that they were going to make documentaries on the subject. The response was good and we got some interesting projects to work with, he says. But Kardile and his team are now intent on taking the information and beauty of the Sahyadris to more and more people. This is where their website comes in. We have been working with the local people in the foothills of the mountains and training them in eco tourism and agricultural tourism. After all,people are the most important part of the diverse culture of the mountain ranges, he says.