Extreme sports such as skydiving, base jumping and scuba diving came into limelight after the X-games used them to promote their events in the 1990s. Archana Sardana is India’s first female BASE jumper, a certified skydiver and the first woman to master the Scuba Diver training in India. She has established herself as one of the leading adventure enthusiasts in the country after completing major sky and scuba dives around the globe.
“My journey started with mountaineering, which is what every second person is doing these days. In 2007 I got involved in skydiving which was my first extreme adventure,” Sardana highlighted.
Sardana was bedridden for four months due to a leg injury before starting her journey in extreme sports. Her doctor was sure that she was not even ready to walk while she was planning for a big future.
“I made up my mind to pursue skydiving even though the doctor advised against it. It was just my mental power and determination that pushed me through those tough times.”
Like many other sports, skydiving demands a lot of hard work and dedication endure a strenuous environment. Archana Sardana has completed 335 skydives and 45 base jumps and is the first female in India to do so, earning the title ‘First Lady of Adventure in India’.
“It has still not sunk in of all that I have achieved so far. One of the reasons I started doing extreme sports was to encourage women to do it and set an example for others,” described Sardana.
The journey of reaching this stage has not been easy for Sardana. She did not get the support she would have liked in India, which forced her to make regular trips to the USA and Dubai to get accredited by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
“I feel that inspiration comes from within, and one can always inspire and motivate themselves to achieve their goals. I like to do things that make me happy, which can be something fundamental such as riding a bicycle.”
After a few BASE jumps, Sardana discovered her love for jumping, which may be from the helicopter or a high peak. She is recognised as an expert at jumping from helicopters following her service to ‘Blind Free India’, a venture organised to support the blind. The term BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth (cliff) which are different structures for performing jumps.
“It is quick, and there is no time to react. BASE jumping does not require a lot of patience, and I am the kind of person who likes fast things,” stated Sardana.
Sardana was not into extreme adventures from an early age, but it is something she pursued after getting married. The desire to conquer unimaginable feats fuelled her thrill for adventure sports, and there has been no stopping to it since then.
“It is not easy to keep doing these dives, but once you are out of your comfort zone, you get to learn a lot about yourself and how things work.”
Some of her major achievements include jumping off the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia with the Indian flag and flaring the national flag at a depth of 30 metres in Neil Islands, Andaman. She has her eyes set on jumping from the Mt. Everest, ambition for the future.
“I am looking forward to visiting Norway soon and do some base jumps there. There are a lot of opportunities to participate if you look around as I am not a person who says no to anything adventurous,” Sardana on her ambitions.
Sardana is a mother of two boys who are in a crucial stage of their life, building their careers. She believes in balancing her time for family and her Scuba Diving academy that helps young women to overcome their fears and experience the rush of adventure sports. Her contributions towards the society are proof of ingenuity that people can seek inspiration from, may it be a teenager or someone who thinks that it is too late to chase their dreams.