Prestigious Indian Award for Pole

By Martushka Fromeast

By Martushka Fromeast

On 2 November Polish photographer Marta Kotlarska (known also as Martushka Fromeast) received the prestigious Abhivyakti Gaurav Samman Award. The Polish photographer produced a visual record of the longest and most demanding pilgrimage in the Himalayas, the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra. Marta Kotlarska belongs to the “Polish-Indian Stories from Himalayas” team that promotes the cultural heritage of the Himalayas. This year, the Polish photographer, together with Mukesh Khugsal, an Indian photographer and Raju Pusola, an Indian journalist working for the largest Indian daily newspaper “Dainik Jagran”, documented the longest and most difficult Himalayan pilgrimage. Not without reason, the route has been hailed as the most difficult in the world. Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra is also a rare event that takes place only once every 12 years. The pilgrims not only face an expedition that lasts three weeks, but also extreme conditions. An added difficulty is the requirement to complete the entire pilgrimage barefoot. What is interesting, Nanda Devi peak, over which part of the route goes, is associated with a well-known Polish story. For many years, Polish mountaineers were pioneers here, being the first to reach the world’s highest peaks. In 1939, Polish mountaineers conquered Nanda Devi. All the participants of the expedition died mysterious deaths and their bodies were never found. In some way Kotlarska continues this Polish link and herself initiated the “Stories from Himalayas” project, which has taken since toured India, Georgia, China, Nepal, Poland, Austria, and the UK. Recently, it also won the B2 WBK Press Photo 2014 award in Poland.

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