Colors of Courage: India’s 1st female base jumper, Archana Sardana dives fearlessly in a male-dominated space

The woman who loves an adrenaline rush is now an accomplished skydiver and has performed over 45 BASE jumps across the globe. Yet she maintains, “I was never a sports enthusiast.

Updated on May 10, 2022 04:51 AM IST  |  125K
India’s 1st female base jumper, Archana Sardana dives fearlessly in a male-dominated space
Colors of Courage: India’s 1st female base jumper, Archana Sardana dives fearlessly in a male-dominated space
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A wife and mom to two munchkins, Archana Sardana is one of the many Indian women who didn’t let life or hardships define her. She nosedived into the once male-dominated sport of Base jumping in India and held her own. The woman who loves an adrenaline rush is now an accomplished skydiver and has performed over 45 BASE jumps across the globe. Yet she maintains, “I was never a sports enthusiast.  I was living a very luxurious and pampered life in Srinagar, Kashmir and was never worried about my future since I belonged to a very affluent family.”

Though Archana grew up in the Valley, her passion for the outdoors and adventure came much later in life. She had an arranged marriage and it was her husband who cheered her to dive into such adventurous sports. She gushes, “My very first outdoor trip was a 62 km local marathon. Me and my husband nailed it and that’s when my outlook completely changed. Despite marriage being known as the turn of the tide in a woman’s life, I define this period as a turning point in my life.”

Archana Sardana

Indeed, in 1998, mountaineering training turned out to be the most vital part of Sardana’s life. Sardana chirps in happiness, “This point in my life was the most important as my journey began and I realised that I have miles and miles to go! I started skydiving in 2007, my first base jump was in 2009, my first scuba diving was in 2010 and it continues.”

But she recalls a time when she didn’t get any support from even her family. “The sport I choose to go with takes a lot of money and finances were the major issue. My parents always question me why are you doing this? My husband’s parents said, “Why are you even spending so much on such a thing and from where are you getting all the money?” Even though we were fiscally strong, the cost of training was enormous that we had to sell a house and my wedding jewellery but when you see things differently, everything feels okay.”

Archana Sardana

“When you start something new, out of nowhere, you face a lot of hard moments and you feel like giving up. There were a lot of misadventures that happened. Right from day one injuries on Base camp to the parachute not working- nothing could ever dampen my spirit!” she smiles.

Ask her what makes it all worth it and she says that performing a ‘free fall’ skydive from a height of 13,500 feet and a BASE jump from a 400-feet high bridge in Utah set her adrenaline pumping. Archana admits she has conquered her fear of water by taking up scuba diving and unfurling the tricolour at a depth of 30 metres under the sea. She cheers, “There is no denying that life is tough but what makes life even tougher is that ‘we will do it attitude.’” Archana reveals that her funda to deal with life is “‘close your mind and do it.’ Just shut your mind, don’t think a lot and go ahead.

The woman who has 5 limca book records and a Guinness book record under her belt speaks of other fears she’s faced and conquered. “During the initial years, I’d get nervous while addressing packed hall events. Though talking to a large number of gatherings always freaked me out, I never thought of abandoning such events. I tackled my fear and came out even stronger.” She further elaborates that sometimes it’s the fear that was pushing us back and until and unless we can’t break that fear, the fear will not go away.

Archana Sardana

When asked what it's like to be a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, she expresses, “Women are not given equal opportunities to prove themselves in a predominantly conservative society.” She further elaborates, “Every time I had to go to the US to learn and to do my training. People in India always hold some kind of insecurity when a woman enters such an unusual zone. People should really change their mindset about sports, adventure and women. The nation needs to understand that Indian women are second to none!

She recalls her husband's funda in order to keep herself filled with courage. “When you have money, you don’t have the age. When you have the age, you don’t have the money. So, you might do things when you have time to do it,” she signs off.

Also Read: Colors of Courage: Masterchef Vikas Khanna on overcoming disability and his glorious childhood in Amritsar

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