Meet Jyothi Raj, an Indian climber whose skill has been compared to a monkey. Not in a demeaning way, of course: he is an extremely talented Indian climber. Rather, he has earned this title because of his ability to climb without safety harnesses. He has a natural affinity for climbing and can scale walls like a monkey climbs trees.
Origins of the ‘Monkey Man’
However, Raj’s story as a prolific Indian climber has an unlikely beginning. He was born in Tamil Nadu in South India in the town of Theni. Since he was born in a very poor family, his exact birthday is unknown. He has not said much about his early life. However, a turning point for him was when he ran away from his home at age 7. He ended up in Bagalkot in Karnataka. Over there he worked in a sweet shop for 5 years.
At the end of 5 years, he left for a job as a domestic worker. This time, he started to work in the town of Chitradurga, which is famous for its fort. This is also the town where he would gain his fame as an Indian climber. However, before he became famous as a climber his life was not exactly a bed of roses. At the age of 18, he was accused of stealing money at his job. Due to his extreme sadness he contemplated killing himself.
His plan was to jump off a boulder at the Chitradurga fort. He went to the fort and scaled up a large boulder. The intention was to jump from the top of the boulder. But when he reached the top, he turned around because he heard the sound of clapping. The people at the base were in awe of the ease with which he climbed. It was at that moment that Jyothi Raj realized his hidden talent.
Rise to Fame of the Monkey Indian Climber
After this, there was no going back. Jyothi Raj began to frequent the fort more often to hone his skills. He started by observing the monkeys in the area. Slowly but surely, through imitation, he increased in skill in climbing. He began to replicate their stunts and was soon able to climb like a natural.
This was also the period in which he began to garner more fame. People started to take videos of him and uploaded them to YouTube. His exceptional climbs raked in the views. It was also around this time that people started to call him ‘Kothi Raju’ or The Monkey King. Foreign media outlets also started to interview him as a gifted Indian climber.
This monkey-climb however has also come at a price. As Raj himself as admitted, he has broken several bones in his practice. The list of body parts includes both his legs, his hands, and even his head. Yet, for Raj this is a small price to pay because now he feels that he has a purpose in life. In fact, in many interviews he has spoken of how grateful he is to the people who come watch him.
One of his most famous climbs has been his attempt at the Jog Falls, which are 830 ft high, on 24th April, 2013. They are a set of four cascading waterfalls in Karnataka. He was to climb in the opposite direction of the flow. It was a momentous occasion and many people were there for the climb. However, there were several nerve-wracking moments. For instance, when he was 600 ft high, he attempted to cross a water column and lost his grip. He then fell 20 feet and disappeared behind the water for 20 minutes. Luckily, his fall had been broken by a rock.
However, this fall left him injured and he could not continue his climb. He had to get eight stitches in his head due to the injury. He has actually attempted the Jog Falls climb multiple times. In fact, he is frequently called there to find the bodies of people who commit suicide there. In this way, he also uses his skills for social causes.
This attempt at the Jog Falls came just after he had healed from an injury. This injury was the result of a fall while climbing Chitradurga fort. It had taken months to heal. However, 2013 was nonetheless a productive year for him. On 13 September 2013, for instance, he climbed the clock tower located at Moorusavir Math in Hubli in just over 15 minutes.
Current Whereabouts of the Monkey Indian Climber
Jyothi Raj is mostly to be found climbing the Chitradurga fort. This ‘Indian climber who climbs like a monkey’ is a big tourist attraction. Many people from around the world and the country come to see him. As always, he climbs unassisted and without any safety harnesses. The only thing he uses is some powder on his hands to increase his grip. However, scaling the fort is not the only feat he displays. He can dangle himself at 90 degree angles from the wall, showcasing his full strength.
He also uses his skills to help others. As noted before, he often helps at Jog Falls to find bodies of those who commit suicide there. However, a less morbid past-time includes teaching local children rock-climbing. He also hones his craft and prepares for more major climbs. In between his hectic schedule he also slots in time for tourists and media interviews.