Jagdish Nanavati was the backbone and conscience of The Himalayan Club. He was the Secretary from 1972 to 1992, President from 1993 to 1999 and President Emeritus from 2000 onwards.
JCN, as he was known, was born on November 19, 1928 in the same year that the Club was founded in Simla. He started trekking as a young man, scrambling extensively all over the Western Ghats and in the Himalaya for over 40 years. He completed his mountaineering course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in 1958 and arranged with the Principal to have three instructors sent to Bombay every year to train youngsters in rock climbing. Thus began The Climbers Club and the popular climbing courses at the Parsik Hills near Bombay which continued into the early 70’s. Among the Sherpas brought down to teach were such illustrious names as Ang Kami, Nawang Gombu, Dorjee Lhatoo and Da Namgyal. Later on, disagreements with The Climbing Club led him to resign, just in time to take on the reins of The Himalayan Club as it shifted Head Office from Calcutta to Bombay. With unwavering zeal and dedication JCN brought about a renaissance in the functioning of the Club’s activities and kindled the same enthusiasm in other sections. Although Jagdish Nanavati climbed no great peaks, his deep understanding of mountains and brilliant analytical mind made him an expert on authentication of expeditions. Indeed, he was known as the last reference point for authenticating controversial climbs in the Indian Himalaya. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the field of mountaineering from the Girimitra Sammelan, an association of various mountaineering clubs in Maharashtra, in 2006.
In 2008, he was appointed Ombudsman of The Himalayan Club, a perfect choice, to whom would be referred all matters concerning the Club’s governance, and who would ensure proper adherence with standard mountaineering procedures for all expeditions as laid down by the IMF.
Jagdish Nanvati’s death on June 29, 2011, left a huge void not only in The Himalayan Club but in the mountaineering world at large.
In 2013 to honour his memory, The Himalayan Club and the Nanavati family instituted The Jagdish C Nanavati Garud Gold Medal – an annual medal for outstanding support staff on expeditions and explorations carrying a cash prize of Rs. 11,000/- and The Jagdish C Nanavati Award for Excellence in Mountaineering – also an annual award carrying a cash prize of Rs. 51,000/-.