If you’re in Darjeeling and happen to miss a visit to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, well, your tour is incomplete. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute or HMI is definitely one of the town’s must-see places and earns its worthy name in the history of India.
Established in the year 1954, the HMI marks the success of Tenzing Norgay’s Mount Everest quest along with Edmund Hilary. Both these gentlemen conquered the Everest in the year 1953, after which the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was formed with the motto of promoting mountaineering in the region. The first director of the institute was also Tenzing Norgay.
What to see in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a hub for various mountaineering activities and acts as a training centre for climbers and expeditioners. Native as well as foreign students can enroll at the Institute for various courses that include theoretical training, trekking, rock-climbing, mountaineering, and more. The institute is also equipped with a residential school, both outdoor and indoor facilities like an auditorium, a library, climbing walls, and more.
For visitors entering through the main gate, there are numerous shops lined along the streets. You can pick up curios here, stock up on souvenirs for loved ones back home or simply admire the amalgamation of various cultures and colours together. The arch gate of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is a good place to take a few pictures before you further go inside the premises. There is a well-stocked museum with various artifacts and objects used by mountaineers, various stuffed animals and pictures of famous personalities as a mark to commemorate them.
Visitors can see two sections at the museum; the main museum on the ground floor houses a lobby, a demonstration of all the Himalayan peaks, and other mountaineering exhibits like camp shoes, oxygen cylinders, types of compass, headlamps, trekking gear and much more. The upper floor, which is the Mount Everest & Mount Makalu Museum exhibits life-sized models of Tenzing Norgay, Edmund Hilary along with many others. It also has a section dedicated to the Everest that displays the number of attempts made to conquer it since the year 1852.
Photography is prohibited inside the museum. It will take you a fair number of hours to complete a tour of the entire area, after which you can spend a lazy evening at the restaurant sipping on a cup of tea against the chilly mountain air. If you’ve not shopped for souvenirs earlier, there is a good curio shop to stock up on that as well.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, apart from being the oldest in the country, is also an embodiment of the history, heritage, and culture of the Himalayan people.