Mohan Singh Kohli

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Captain Mohan Singh Kohli

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi releasing the book "The Great Himalayan Climb" on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the 1965 Everest Expedition, in New Delhi on May 20, 2015.jpg
With Shri Narendra Modi at the time releasing the book "The Great Himalayan Climb"
Born (1931-12-11) 11 December 1931 (age 87)
Haripur, Pakistan, British India
Service/branchIndo-Tibetan Border Police
Years of service1
RankCaptain of the Indian Army.svg Captain
Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meets the members of Indian Everest Expedition 1965 on the occasion of Golden Jubilee of this on May 20 , 2015
Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meets the members of Indian Everest Expedition 1965 on the occasion of Golden Jubilee of this on May 20 , 2015
1965 Indian stamp dedicated to the 1965 Everest Expedition

Captain Mohan Singh Kohli (b. 11 December 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. First Indian Leader to climb Everest:Captain M S Kohli led the 1965 Indian Expedition to Mount Everest in which he put 9 climbers on the summit of Everest - a record which India held for 17 long years.[1]


Mohan Singh Kohli was President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation from 1989 to 1993. In 1989, he co-founded the Himalayan Environment Trust. Trekking in The Himalayas was founded by Captain M.S. Kohli who has been climbing many Himalayan Peaks. It was his feeling that not many people in the world can climb Himalayan peaks but many can go to the basecamps of the mountains.


He has been honoured with the

  1. Padma Bhushan [2],[3],
  2. Arjuna Award [4] .
  3. Ati Vishisht Seva Medal
  4. IMF Gold Medal
  5. Punjab Govt's Nishan-e-Khalsa
  6. Delhi Govt's Most Distinguished Citizen of Delhi Award
  7. Tenzing Norgay Lifetime National Adventure Award

and several international recognitions.

1965 Everest expedition[edit]

Kohli is best known as leader of the epoch-making Indian Everest Expedition 1965. The achievement electrified the nation. Nine climbers reached the summit, creating a world record that 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, an Arjuna Award for the entire team and Padma Bhushan/Padma Shree for all eleven team members was 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”. Gandhi also described the 1965 success as one of India's six major achievements after Independence.

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 serialised in several national newspapers and magazines. Kohli, with some members, was felicitated at Brussels, Paris, Geneva and Rome. Tenzing Norgay 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.

On 8 September 1965, Kohli was invited to address Members of both the Houses of the Indian Parliament in the Central Hall.

Adventure clubs and Himalayan expeditions multiplied several-fold, triggering a national resurgence in Indian mountaineering.[5], [6],[7],[8], [9],[10].

Early life[edit]

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 2,000 innocent persons during the carnage of the partition of India.

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 organisation. 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. The task involved installing nuclear powered spy listening devices on top of some of the Indian Himalayan peaks to spy on the Chinese missile capabilities. 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 3 December 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 14 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. Since his retirement in 1990, declining several lucrative offers, he has been passionately working on all-round development of youth through various adventure and outdoor leadership projects.

Books and Magazines[edit]

  • Incredible Himalayas, Indus Publishing (2005) ISBN 81-7387-179-5
  • Mountains of India, Indus Publishing (2004) ISBN 81-7387-135-3
  • 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)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Padma Bhushan for The first Indians on Everest on 1965-".
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Arjuna Award for The first Indians on Everest on 1965-".
  5. ^ "First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".
  6. ^ "First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".
  7. ^ "First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".
  8. ^ "Nine Atop Everest-First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".
  9. ^ "The first Indians on Everest-First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".
  10. ^ "The first Indians on Everest-First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-".

External links[edit]