Major Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia (born 6 November 1936) is an Indian mountaineer, author, social worker and retired Indian Army officer. During his career he has made contributions in the fields of adventure, sports, environment, disability and social work.
Following his advanced training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, he climbed extensively in Sikkim, Nepal and later he climbed Mount Everest on 29 May 1965. The 1965 Indian Army expedition was the first successful Indian Expedition to Everest which put 9 mountaineers on top, a record to last 17 years. He along with Avtar Singh Cheema, Nawang Gombu Sherpa, Sonam Wangyal, C.P. Vohra, Harish Chandra Singh Rawat, Ang Kami Sherpa, Sonam Gyatso and Phu Dorjee Sherpa successfully summited the peak in 1965 and became the first Indians to climb Mount Everest. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he suffered a bullet injury to his spine which resulted in his confinement to a wheelchair. Presently, he is the Chairman of Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. He has written thirteen books and has also produced an award-winning serial, Beyond Himalaya, which has been telecast all over the world on Discovery and National Geographic channels.
Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia was born on 6 November 1936 and brought up in Shimla along with his two sisters and two younger brothers. His father was employed as a Civil Engineer in the Indian Central Public Works Department.
For his academic career he went to St Joseph's Academy, Dehradun and St. George's College, Mussoorie. There, he discovered his interest in photography and rock climbing. Along with graduation, his interest in rock-climbing increased. Some of the places where Ahluwalia did his rock climbing are Garhwal, Sikkim, Nepal, Ladakh, and of course Mount Everest.
After his graduation Ahluwalia joined the Indian Army as an officer, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Electrical-Mechanical Engineering branch on 14 December 1958. He was promoted to lieutenant on 14 December 1960 and to captain on 14 December 1964. Seeing action during the 1965 war with Pakistan, he was wounded by a bullet in his spine, which left him confined to a wheelchair. He received an early discharge from the Army on 8 January 1968, with the honorary rank of major.
Expeditions and adventures
After treatment at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England, he continued to pursue his love for adventure by organising pioneering events such as the first Ski Expedition to Mount Trisul, the first Trans-Himalaya Motor Expedition (1983), and the Central Asia Cultural Expedition (1994) following the Silk & Marco Polo's Route through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, entering China in the Asian City of Kashgar, Yarkhand and returned via Tibet and Kathmandu.
Ahluwalia has also been the President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and Delhi Mountaineering Association. He was also the Chairman of Special Ability Trust (created to assist young achievers with disabilities with fellowships and scholarships), Youth Exploring Society (with its chapter in Ireland, West Germany and Italy), Rehabilitation Council of India (a Statutory Body under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment), Chairman of Planning Committee of Persons with Disability of 12-year plan and Chairman of the Committee of Drafting Country Report.
Realizing the needs of persons with spinal injury, Ahluwalia, with the support of his friends, set up the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, India in 1993. He also served as an IOFS officer.
- Chairman – Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.
- Chairman – Planning Committee of Persons with Disability of 12 five-year plan and Chairman of the committee of drafting country report.
- Former president – Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
- Former president – Delhi Mountaineering Association.
- Former chairman – Special Ability Trust (created to assist young achiever with disabilities with *fellowships and scholarships).
- Former chairman – Youth Exploring Society (with its chapter in Ireland, West Germany and Italy).
- Former chairman – Rehabilitation Council of India (a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment).
- Member – Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
- Member – Planning Commission – Steering committee of the Social Welfare and other special groups.
- Member – National Consultation on National Policy for PwD.
- Member – CII Core Group on Disability.
- Member – National Finance and Revenue Committee constituted by Ministry of Finance.
- Member – CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation), in collaboration with AISPO-ITALY.
- Member – International Spinal Cord Society.
- Member – Patron, Spinal Cord Society, India.
- Arjuna Award-1965
- Padma Shri-1966
- Padma Bhushan-2002
- Tenzing Norgay National Adventure award for lifetime Achievement-29 August 2009
- National Award for the Welfare of People with Disabilities-3 December 1998
- Order of the Khalsa (Nishan-e- Khalsa) Tercentenary of the Birth of Khalsa
- FRGS – Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (United Kingdom)
- Fellowship conferred for significant contribution to studies and literature written on Environment and Adventure
- CONDOR-DE-ORO – A high Argentinean honour given for overall contribution to adventure writing / participation in Adventure Sports.
- Advisor/Consultant to the Argentina Everest Expedition
- World Health Initiative for Peace Award, 29 July 2013