Completing the first recorded solo circumnavigation of the globe by an Indian, Commander Dilip Donde sailed into Mumbai on his boat, the INSV Mhadei, in May this year.
On Sunday, in recognition of his feat, Donde was conferred the Shaurya Chakra, a peacetime gallantry award.
The Shaurya Chakra is an Indian Military Decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy.
It is the peacetime equivalent of the Vir Chakra and third in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards after the Ashoka Chakra and the Kirti Chakra.
At the awards ceremony on Independence Day, Cdr Donde was lauded for ‘displaying exceptional courage and initiative, overcoming several challenges and braving dangers including damage to his boat on the high seas in rough weather and choppy seas’.
Cdr Donde told Hindustan Times that the journey he undertook was the best of his life. Nevertheless, he remains modest about the gallantry award.
“It is not that I am jumping from joy. But, yes, I am very happy. One must always look forward,” he said.
And, the circumnavigation is by no means the last of Cdr Donde’s adventures.
“I would like to take up a non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe, or if that is not possible, I would love to help somebody else take it up. I will provide that person with every kind of support,” he said.
Coming back to the solo circumnavigation, the 42-year-old officer covered 21,600 nautical miles to achieve the milestone after setting out on his adventure on August 19, last year.
Till date, 175 people across the world have managed to complete the task.
Donde, an NDA alumnus and trained diver in the Navy, volunteered for project ‘Sagar Parikrama’ and also trained with the legendary Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop round the world in 1968-69.