“People who have achieved greatness and managed to inspire everyone they’ve crossed path will never die. They live in our minds in the hopes that we keep their light alive. If we remember them well enough they can still guide us, like the shine of long-extinguished stars that guide ships in unfamiliar water.”– Matt Haig
This quote perfectly describes the Late Shri Biswadeb Biswas (1936-2019), who strived to live life to the fullest and went on to do just that. Any person familiar with the Nanda Ghunti Expedition would definitely know about Mr Biswadeb Biswas, who was the last surviving member of the epochal 1960 Nanda Ghunti Expedition.
In 1960, the first civilian Himalayan Mountaineering Expedition in India took place. Along with the expeditors, the total members in this expedition included three scientists, two press representatives, one physician, and one transport officer— taking the total count to 15 members. Since the expedition required the right finances, Mr Biswadeb decided to write to Everest winner Sir Edmund Hillary, who was visiting Calcutta at the time. Together they met Mr Ashok Kumar Sarkar of Anand Bazar Patrika, who after listening to their story not only arranged for the money but also published photos and excerpts of this great achievement in his newspaper.
Thus, began the unforgettable journey of a man who stopped at nothing, went on to achieve greater heights, and in the process, managed to inspire countless other individuals.
Right at the onset, it was pretty evident that Mr Biswadeb Biswas was not cut out for ordinary things. His love for adventures led him to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling, where he was one of the first batch of trainees. He learned under the tutelage of the legendary Tenzing Norgay—the Chief of Field Training at the institute. Eventually, he went on to become a key member of many such adventurous climbs, the last being in 1987 to the Lang Tang Himalayan in Nepal.
A reputed editor at the Anand Bazar Patrika and an author of well-documented books like Mana Expedition, 1961 in the Himalayan Journal—Mr Biswadeb Biswas has many popular books to his credit.
Apart from being the founding member of Parbat Abhijatri Sangha that undertook this remarkable mission, Mr Biswadeb Biswas was the recipient of the prestigious Tenzing Norgay Award conferred to him by the Govt. of West Bengal. He also received the Ashok Kumar Sarkar Mountaineering Award and Citation from Sri Subhas Chakraborty, Minister of Sports & Youth Services, Govt. of West Bengal.
Having met the likes of former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the former President of India, Dr S. Radhkrishnan for his great feat—Mr Biswadeb Biswas continues to inspire several others and motivates them to pursue their passion with everything they’ve got.
Mr Biswadeb Biswas was 83 years old when he passed away on 14th September 2019. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter, along with million others who have always looked up to him and worshiped him.
His funeral took place on 17th September 2019 in Keoratala Crematorium at 2:00 pm in the presence of his family members. Several from Ananda Bazar Patrika and mountaineer group attended his funeral to pay homage during his last rites.
TriBeCa Care has had the honour to interact with Mr Biswadeb Biswas when he was our Elder Care member and we could get to know him in such close quarters. Although he is not there with us today, his greatness, achievements, and personality are always going to have a special place in our hearts.