Unexplored adventure sports heaven

Dr. Sahil Gorka
” Mountains are bigger than you think they are.” For the people of J&K, I can say, mountains are nearer than you think they are. A negligible number of people in our J&K state must be aware of the fact that we have a mountaineering institute of international repute in our very own state.
Its Jawahar Institute Of Mountaineering And Winter Sports (JIM & WS), situated at Nunwan, near Pahalgam. Its enclosed amidst humongous lush green mountains of Pahalgam, just at the banks of Lidder river, 1 km before Pahalgam market.
For people coming to Amarnathyatra, it’s actually a wild discovery as the Amarnath base camp and JIM&WS headquarters share a common boundary.
Surprisingly enough,it’s one of the only five Government run mountaineering institutes of the country. It’s a joint venture between Ministry of Defence, Government of India andDeptt. of Tourism, J & K. So the employee strength is derived from both central govt. as well as state govt.
Like the rich state of J & K, this institute too has a long history. It was first established, on 25 october 1983, at Aru valley, located around 15 km from Pahalgam. With a meagre strength of 1 officer and a handful of employees, the institute commenced basic mountaineering training in june 1985. The response was slow but training standards were highly maintained and looked after.
But as years passed by and militancy creeped in the valley,training and student inflow was highly affected.Ultimately adventure activities like mountaineering and winter snow skiing were put to a halt and institute was shifted to safer places from Anantnag to Himachal and back to Batote. The turmoil in valley caused heavy loss to the mountaineering era that had started to flourish. After years of finding place to set it roots, the institute finally found a care taker in Late. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the then chief minister in 2003. Subsequently, due to improvement of conditions in valley, the institute was again re-located to Pahalgam in october 2003. Since then, the institute has set up its headquarters at Nunwan, Pahalgam.
The various courses that are conducted in it range from basic mountaineering, advance mountaineering, basic and advance skiing, white water rafting, paragliding, search and rescue courses for NDRF,SDRF and defence forces too.
The main motive of training is to expose the youth to nature, kindling the spirit of adventure in them. Giving them an opportunity to develop personality, character, courage and confidence through adventure sports.
While imparting mountaineering and winter sports training, the financial load is heavily waived off the students as the course fees is highly subsidized for each course. Anybody, from age 10 to 40 can apply for his desired course all around the year at minimal cost and avail the world class training facility in the best of natural rock and snow platforms.
Another aim of this institute is to awaken the love for mountains and expeditions among youth and educate them about environment awareness. Besides training the defence forces tounder take rescue operations/search missions, it also promotes national & international adventure activities and winter games where trainees from this institute represent at international levels and bring laurels.
Also, atleast once a year an expedition is flagged off to climb various peaks in Kashmir and ladakh.
With the headquarters situated at Pahalgam, there are various sub training centres of the institute at Sanasar/Patnitop, Bhaderwah, Shey (Leh), Aru and Sonamarg. Depending upon the strength of students, concurrent courses run at all centresall round the year.
But the saddest part that I noted during my tenure as medical officer in the institute, was that students from all over India and outside world come to avail this once in a lifetime opportunity, but youth of our own state ,Jammu and Kashmir have remained ignorant of this institute and its activities. Due to lack of advertisement and proper awareness, the youth of J&K has been deprived from the world class training and adventure.
Anybody who wishes to take part in the courses conducted by the institute can go to the official website www.jawaharinstitutepahalgam.com or check out the facebook page.