Mohan Singh Kohli
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Captain Manmohan Singh Kohli (b. December 11, 1931 at Haripur) is an internationally renowned Indian mountaineer. An officer in the Indian Navy who joined the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, he led the 1965 Indian expedition which put nine men on the summit of Everest, a world record which lasted for 17 years.
Mohan Kohli was President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation from 1989 to 1993. In 1989, he co-founded the Himalayan Environment Trust. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and Arjuna Award.Internationally renowned Himalayan mountaineer, Captain Manmohan Singh Kohli is best known as leader of the epoch-making Indian Everest Expedition 1965 which electrified the nation. Nine climbers reached the summit creating a world record which India held for 17 years. Public euphoria reached a crescendo. People danced in the streets. On return of the team from Nepal to India, breaking all protocol, the Prime Minister headed the reception at the airport. In another unprecedented move Arjuna Award for the entire team and Padma Bhushan/ Padma Shree for eleven were immediately announced. His tallest tribute came from none other than the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi: “The record of Commander Kohli’s expedition will find special mention in history. It was a masterpiece of planning, organization, teamwork, individual effort and leadership”. A full length film on the expedition with music by Shankar Jaikishan was released all over India and abroad. The story of the spectacular achievement was serialized in several national newspapers and magazines. The leader, with some members, was felicitated at Brussels, Paris, Geneva and Rome. Tenzing accompanied Captain Kohli to several countries. In India, Chief Ministers of almost all the States invited the team to their capitals and honoured it at State and Civic receptions. Adventure clubs and Himalayan expeditions multiplied several fold triggering national resurgence.
Golden moments of his life came on 8th September, 1965 when he was invited to address Members of both the Houses of the Indian Parliament in Central Hall where heads of each and every political party vied with each other to pay their highest tributes. Indira Gandhi described the 1965 success as one of India’s six major achievements after Independence.
Born and brought up at Haripur on the banks of Indus in the Karakoram mountains of North West Frontier, Kohli witnessed the massacre of over 2000 innocent persons during the carnage of the partition of India, emerging physically and mentally stronger. Starting with Saser Kangri (25,170 ft) in 1956, he has been on 20 major Himalayan expeditions which included India’s first ascent of Nanda Kot and maiden ascent of Annapurna III. He belongs to the exclusive band of three climbers in the world who, in 1962, spent three consecutive nights, two without oxygen, on Everest in raging blizzards at 27,650 feet. During his years with the Indian Navy, he introduced adventure as part of training. During 15 years with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, from its inception, he turned the force into a formidable mountaineering organization. Under the charge of India’s legendary police officers, B.N. Mullick and R.N. Kao, he led seven dangerous, challenging and highly sensitive missions of great national importance along with climbers and scientists from the USA. This largest, longest and costliest expedition will form the plot of a Hollywood movie.
On joining Air-India in 1971, Kohli conceived and personally promoted ‘Trekking in the Himalayas’ all over the world by visiting over 50 countries and making over 1000 presentations which included world’s most popular TV programmes, ‘To Tell the Truth’ and ‘David Frost Show’. On 3rd Dec, 1978, he flew over the South Pole. To save the Himalayas from the brink of disaster, he secured the support of Sir Edmund Hillary and other Himalayan legends – Maurice Herzog, Sir Chris Bonington, Reinhold Messner and Junko Tabei - to establish the Himalayan Environment Trust on 14th October, 1989. During the past two decades the HET helped saving the world heritage for future generations. In India, he also introduced Himalayan tourism, white-water rafting, aero-sports, luxury sea cruises, tourist charters to Goa, international conferences, Himalayan mountaineering and tourism meets and opened Lakshadweep and the Andaman Islands to tourism. His 14-year tenure in the Indian Mountaineering Foundation as Vice President/President saw many landmark developments. After his retirement in 1990, declining several lucrative offers, he has been passionately working on allround development of youth through various adventure and outdoor leadership projects. Captain Kohli believes that country is more important than self and that without the instinct for adventure amongst youth, nations cannot go forward.
Captain Kohli is recipient of Padma Bhushan, the Arjuna Award, the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, the IMF Gold Medal, Punjab Govt’s Nishan-e-Khalsa, Delhi Govt’s Most Distinguished Citizen of Delhi Award, Tenzing Norgay Lifetime National Adventure Award and several international recognitions.
Captain Kohli About Himself: “I am an ordinary person. My life story simply proves that every human being can scale the highest peaks of achievement in his or her chosen field. No one is born great. Only challenges make one so. I am a product of supreme challenges”.
Books and Magazine
- Incredible Himalayas, Indus Publishing (2005) ISBN 81-7387-179-5
- Mountains of India, Indus Publishing (2004) ISBN 81-7387-135-3 Anil
- Spies in the Snow, How CIA and the Indian Intelligence Lost a Nuclear Device in the Himalayas,
- Spies of Anil in the Himalayas: Secret Missions and Perilous Climbs, University Press of Kansas (2003) ISBN 0-7006-1223-8
- The Himalayas: Playground of the Gods: Trekking, Climbing, Adventure (2000) M.S. Kohli
- Mountaineering in India (1989)