Ajay Kothiyal

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Colonel (Retd.)

Ajay Kothiyal

Born (1969-02-26) February 26, 1969 (age 50)
Tehri, Uttarakhand, India
Service/branchIndian Army
Years of service1992-2017
Service numberIC-51821X [1]
UnitThe Garhwal Rifles
Commands held4th Battalion/Nuranang Battalion; 10th Battalion, of The Garhwal Rifles
Battles/warsKargil War
AwardsKirti Chakra
Shaurya Chakra
Vishisht Seva Medal
RelationsInspector General.(Retd.)Satyasaran Kothiyal (father); Late. Sushila Kothiyal (mother)
Other workPrincipal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering;[2] Founder of Youth Foundation Uttarakhand, India [3]

Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, KC, SC, VSM (Retd) is one of the highly decorated officers of the Indian Army. He is also a renowned mountaineer as well as philanthropist and was the Principal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarakhand.[4]

Colonel Kothiyal (then Major) was part of the first team of the Indian Army that successfully summited the Mount Everest in 2001, under the leadership of Brigadier Krishan Kumar AVSM.

On 12 May 2003, Indian Army had carried out its first surgical strike in Pulwama district under the leadership of Major Kothiyal. He was wounded in the operation, in which 7 terrorists were neutralized. He was awarded Kirti Chakra.

In 2011, He decided to scale the eighth highest peak in the world, Mt Manaslu. No Indian had ever successfully climbed this mountain. Fighting harsh weather and inhospitable conditions, his team unfurled the Indian Flag at the peak of Manaslu on 9th May 2011. He was awarded “Vishisht Seva Medal”.

In 2012, Colonel Kothiyal led a team of seven female officers from Indian army and successfully scaled the world's highest peak for the second time. Mrs Pratibha Singh Patil, President of India at that time,awarded him Shaurya Chakra

In 2013, Kedarnath temple, India's pilgrimage shrine was hit by natural disaster in which many lost lives. Colonel Kothiyal and his team were among the first to reach the affected area. He was given the responsibility of search and rescue operations. Under his supervision, Kedarnath was rebuilt and restored to its pristine form[5].

In the same year, he also started a nonprofit trust called Youth Foundation to help the rural youth in Garhwal region to join the Indian Military and Para Military Services. The Foundation also helps in providing medical facilities to the poor people in Garhwal region.[6]

Early life[edit]

Ajay Kothiyal was born on 26 February 1969, as the eldest son of Inspector General.(Retd.) Satyasaran Kothiyal Border Security Force and Sushila Kothiyal. His alma mater include St. Joseph's Academy, Dehradun, Brightlands School, Kendriya Vidyalaya Dehradun, D.A.V.Post Graduate College Dehradun and Indian Military Academy.[7][8]

Military service[edit]

After completing his graduation, he cleared the CDS exam and joined the Fourth Battalion of Garhwal Rifles Regiment as Second Lieutenant in 1992. In 1994, Colonel Kothiyal started training in ‘basic mountain warfare’ from High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS).

In 2001, Indian Army was preparing to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, for the first time. Major Ajay Kothiyal expressed his desire to be the part of the expedition. Members of the team were handpicked and underwent rigorous training and scrutiny. In March 2001, his team lead by Brigadier Krishan Kumar, conquered the Mount Everest.  This was the first successful expedition of Indian Army to Mount Everest

Operation Kongvatan: 13th May 2003 – At five o’ clock in the evening of 12th May 2003, Ajay Kothiyal and team went on a mission to Pir Panjal Mountains since he had information that a group of terrorists had camped there. The team spotted a makeshift camp at 7 AM the next day. At around 10, they saw a group of militants leaving the camp.

Kothiyal's team was waiting silently for the group to come closer. As soon as the terrorists entered their range, he ordered the men to fire. The terrorists panicked and four of them started firing at him. Col Kothiyal shot them down and rest were wiped out by his team. He was awarded Kirti Chakra for the accomplishment of this operation.

In 2011, He decided to climb the 8163-metre-high unapproachable Mount Manaslu. It is the eighth highest peak in the world and is situated in Nepal. No Indian had ever successfully climbed this mountain. Fighting harsh weather and inhospitable conditions, his team unfurled the Indian Flag at the peak of Manaslu on 9th May 2011. He was awarded “Vishisht Seva Medal”.

In 2012, Colonel Kothiyal was given the task to lead a group of 7 female officers from Indian Army to Mt Everest. There was constant fear of avalanches and falling in glacier. On 25 May 2012, the team successfully scaled the Mt Everest. His efforts were recognized by then President of India, Mrs Pratibha Singh Patil, who awarded him with “Shaurya Chakra

Kedarnath Disaster

In 2013, Colonel Kothiyal was appointed as Principal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering NIM, situated at Uttarkashi. When Kedarnath disaster occurred in June 2013; the governing authorities directed Colonel Kothiyal to immediately spearhead the search and rescue operations in the affected area.His team rescued around 6,500 tourists and local people, including 46 foreigners.

Post-Kedarnath tragedy, the state government assigned the task of reconstruction of Yatra route to him . For the first time in the history of Kedarnath, people stayed during harsh winters.The team continued its work amidst snow as deep as 18 ft. During this period the workers of NIM cleared the buildings destroyed by tragedy using machines.The entire route was cleared for proper conduction of Kedarnath Yatra.

Social Work[edit]

While working in Kedarnath, Col Kothiyal had recruited a few young men from nearby villages to assist him. Col Kothiyal observed that these youngsters had lost their livelihood due to the disaster but were still very dedicated and passionate. Col Kothiyal invited them to NIM and started training them to join the Indian Army. He observed that the youth of Garhwal wanted to join the Indian Army but lacked proper training to do so. To bridge the gap, Col Kothiyal started a training program for such people. He self-funded the cause. The first batch had only 11 trainees, and the Army recruited all of them. "Youth Foundation" registered itself as a charitable not-for-profit trust in 2015.[9]

In 2018, Colonel Kothiyal took voluntary retirement from army to focus on social work through Youth Foundation.

"Youth Foundation" today proudly claims to provide more than 8000 cadets to the Indian Army. Alongside, training camps Youth Foundation also provides medical facilities to the needy people in Garhwal region. "Youth Foundation" has given relief to more than 300 such families.The trust not only generates employment but also creates a constructive environment in the region. It trains nearly 15,000 students every year free of cost and is contributing in a big manner in shaping future of Uttarakhand.

Military Decorations[edit]

Kirti Chakra ribbon.svg Shaurya Chakra ribbon.svg Vishisht Seva Medal ribbon.svg Wound Medal-India.svg
IND Special Service Medal Ribbon.svg IND Operation Vijay star.svg IND Siachen Glacier Medal Ribbon.svg IND Operation Vijay medal.svg
IND Operation Parakram medal.svg IND Sainya Seva Medal Ribbon.svg IND High Altitude Medal Ribbon.svg IND Videsh Seva Medal Ribbon.svg
IND 50th Anniversary Independence medal.svg IND 20YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg UNIFIL ribbon bar.svg
Kirti Chakra
Shaurya Chakra
Vishisht Seva Medal
Wound Medal
Special Service Medal
Operation Vijay Star
Siachen Glacier Medal
Operation Vijay Medal
Operation Parakram Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
High Altitude Service Medal
Videsh Seva Medal
50th Anniversary of Independence Medal
20 Years Long Service Medal
9 Years Long Service Medal
UN Interim Force in Lebanon Medal


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "63rd Republic Day: The gallantry award winners : IC-51821X COLONEL AJAY KOTHIYAL, KIRTI CHAKRA, SHAURYA CHAKRA, GARHWAL RIFLES". rediff.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Principal Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, KC, SC, VSM". NIM. NIM. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ "TEAM & GOVERNING BODY Founded by Colonel Ajay Kothiyal KC, SC, VSM on 13 Jul 2013". Youth Foundation. Youth Foundation. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Colonel Ajay Kothiyal Kirti Chakra , Shaurya Chakra , Visisht Seva Medal". Youth Foundation. Youth Foundation. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  5. ^ Upadhyay, Kavita (2014-12-21). "In snow-covered Kedarnath, restoration gathers pace". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  6. ^ "The Colonel who dares the hills". The Tribune Trust. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Colonel Ajay Kothiyal Kirti Chakra , Shaurya Chakra , Visisht Seva Medal". Youth Foundation. Youth Foundation. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Heroic deeds of an Army officer". The Tribune. Tribune News Service. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  9. ^ "This Colonel Helped Rehabilitate Uttarakhand After The 2013 Floods & Trained Over 2000 Youngsters To Join The Army". thelogicalindian.com. thelogicalindian.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  10. ^ "uttarakhand ratna award to narendra singh negi and colonel Ajay Kothiyal". Amar Ujala Publications Ltd. Amar Ujala Publications Ltd. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Winners:Col. Ajay Kothiyal". indiatvnews.com. indiatvnews.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.

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