IISM is modern and the most popular ski training institute of our country which was established by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India at Gulmarg in 1968 as a temporary project called Gulmarg Winter Sports Project (GWSP). The initial project envisaged development of Gulmarg as an international ski resort with desired infrastructure and to train ski guides to meet the requirement of tourists. The ski hire shop was established along with a chairlift and a ski lift in early 70’s to promote skiing and adventure tourism amongst domestic and foreign tourists. It also proposed to establish a cable car (Gandola) between Gulmarg and Kongdori. The project was started in the borrowed huts of Tourism department of J&K. The project started of very well and attracted huge ski lovers from all over the world which also boosted the foreign exchange earnings of the country. Due to the limited period of skiing and huge demand for other summer adventure courses, many other adventure courses such as mountaineering, adventure, Rock Climbing, Aero adventure, Trekking and Water Skiing courses were added for optimal utilization of the institute assets throughout the year. Seeing the good response of the public and tangible results achieved by this project to promote adventure tourism, the project was converted into a permanent establishment of the Ministry as Indian institute of Skiing and mountaineering (IISM) in 1987.
2.A long spell of insurgency starting from 1989 had a very adverse effect on the Institute. Most of its employees migrated to safer parts of the country and Institute became defunct for two decades. An Instructor of the Institute was appointed as officiating Principal and project of Cable Car was transferred to state Govt. The Institute barely managed to survive during the turmoil. Most of its employees retired and new recruitment could not be carried out.
3.Not deterred by the situation in the Valley, ministry took bold decision to revive this institute in 2004. A new hostel building was sanctioned and completed. New Skiing Equipment and Machinery worth Rs 8 Crores was procured. A new Principal was selected in 2009 from army on Deputation and later absorbed permanently. Visit of the Secretary Tourism, Govt. of India bought the due attention of the Ministry of Tourism to revive this Institute which resulted in start of many summer and winter courses. Institute since then is getting support towards conduct of courses and is now able to conduct its summer and winter courses regularly.
IISM is a permanent subordinate office of Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. In addition to develop the skills of adventure, it acts as an advisory to the ministry of tourism for formulation of National adventure policies/programs and coordination of activities of various central, State Govt. and private agencies for development and promotion of Adventure tourism in the country. It conducts adventure training activities in all fields of the adventure to train citizens so as to promote adventure tourism and develop new adventure destinations in the country. Institute trains youth of the Nation including J&K in different adventure skills through different courses. With peace returning to the Valley, there is huge demand for adventure courses by youth of the Nation including locals. The youth trained by institute become instructors/guides and conduct small adventure programs for tourists promoting adventure tourism. Hence IISM is generating huge employment for the unemployed local youth of the State in adventure tourism. Another inbuilt aim of the adventure training is to develop personality of the youth of our Nation through different adventure activities. Adventure training develops those traits of personality in our youth which are not possible in the protected environments of schools and colleges. It also brings harmony amongst different regions/cultures through its adventure courses. These trainees after the courses become its ambassadors who promote adventure tourism in the whole country.
Though adventure courses are subsidized, the indirect dividends earned by the institute in promotion of adventure tourism and employment generation for locals are far more valuable than just earning the revenue from training courses. However, institute will also earn sufficient revenue from its revenue generating assets once its chairlift and ski lifts become functional.
Currently IISM Gulmarg is being guided by Sh Gyan Bhusan Economic advisor to the ministry of tourism, HRD division and Prof Dr Alok Sharma is the Principal (i/c). Mr JS Dhillon, a distinguished mountaineer and skier who helped the ministry to revive this institute after turmoil is working as consultant to help upgrade its infrastructure as also open its new branch at Kargil. It undertakes various adventure courses to meet the requirement of environment. Some of the key courses which suits most to J&K environment and are conducted throughout the year by IISM are:
Though, institute faces major constraints of manpower and other resources, IISM is still emerging as best adventure institute of the Nation.
Despite all constraints Institute has been able to revive its activities and put up an excellent performance in the last few years. Some of the stimulating achievements are as follows: -
We are very hopeful that new initiatives being undertaken by the ministry of tourism to fully revive this institute under the chairmanship of HMT and secretary (T) will enable this institute to develop all its infrastructure and come up to the high expectations of the countrymen.