I have only about a month and a half’s time before I leave Delhi. My 17 months long stay here has been full of traveling, new friends, new activities and new experiences. From language to dressing sense to food habits to bargaining skills, this city has changed me.
I have been meaning to write this post since quite some time. But sometimes, stories about one’s best experiences are left for the end, as the dessert. After multiple posts covering my trips to the historic places associated with Delhi and around, I would like to bring you folks’ attention to my favorite spot in Delhi.
Located in South Delhi, just beside the South Campus of Delhi University ( DU ), Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) is the place I have spent most of my weekend at, starting last February. IMF is the premier mountaineering body of India and it’s the go to place if one wants to plan an expedition to a peak in the Indian territory. It’s a government organization and for all it’s red tape and bureaucracy, it seems like an efficiently run institution. The campus is lush green with trees and well maintained lawn. The main complex of the building houses the administrative office, lodging facilities for sponsored mountaineers and a library. Outside the building but within the premises, the institute has built Artificial Climbing Walls, adhering to international standards. Climbing wall is what attracted me to IMF and very soon, it had become my adda on weekends.
( the other attraction for me was the library. The library is full of maps of the Himalayan ranges and large sized photographs, which would appeal to a great extent to any mountain lover. Although I must confess that for all my plans and intentions, I never really took time out for reading the books.)
Climbing community in India is very small. The good part about that is that as a result, everyone seems to know everyone else. IMF becomes a meeting point very often, as also the place to run into your mountaineer/climber friends unexpectedly, just as they are stopping by at the insti to rent out top quality climbing gear from the institute at awesomely cheap rates. IMF itself organizes and sponsors national expeditions every year, for promoting the activity and exploring new areas. The mountaineers are selected from the country on the basis of their experience, their certifications in the mountaineering courses and recommendations by other experienced members in the climbing community. These expeditions are a great opportunity for a new climber to find like minded people and go for a Himalayan expedition at absolutely no expense of his/her own. One gets to be with the best people in the domain, learn the skills and establish roots in the mountaineering community of India. It was my good fortune to get selected for such expeditions a couple of times, but I could not join them due to personal reasons like college exams and job interviews. Sigh. There are people who criticize the spoon feeding nature of these expeditions, but for any new comer who doesn’t have much backing in terms of finances or contacts, IMF expeditions are a great way to start.
But I am digressing as i wanted to make this post more about weekend experiences at IMF than anything else about it. There are 4 climbing walls in the premises and a bouldering wall at the back side. The climbing walls are aimed at different styles of climbing. So in the front we have a lead climbing wall, on the left hand and back side, there are top roping walls with various levels of grading and on the right hand side lies the speed climbing wall. I mostly spent my time on top rope and in bouldering but by the end of November, I had started attempting the lead climbing wall.
You would have instructors to teach you and belay you while you climb. You can have annual membership of the institute but we mostly preferred paying by the day rate, which was Rs.100 for a session. There are morning and evening sessions of 4 hours each. It is most likely though, that you would get tired by the end of 1.5-2 hours! All the equipment like climbing rope,seat harness, carabiners, belay device, crash pads etc. are all provided by IMF and are of excellent quality. All you need to bring on your own are your climbing shoes and the chalk ( with chalk bag).
I used to spend at least one day of the weekend at IMF, mostly practicing different routes on these walls or doing endurance training. It is amazing how your skills go on improving after consistent practice . besides, there’s nothing like a game of cricket post your climbing practice with everyone acting as if losing the match would be akin to losing your face 😀 !
The most notable thing about this place is the people you get to meet here. Almost every one is an outdoor loving person, is slightly crazy ( in an awesome way) and has great attachment for physical activity. You would find cyclists, swimmers, trekkers, dancers, mountaineers football players, badminton & tennis players, marathon runners- all part of the pleasant friendly crowd at the walls. Everyone is easy going, friendly and everyone wants to push his/her limits further while climbing. It helps greatly to have such a bunch around you when you climb because rock climbing is an activity where you depend on your fellow climber’s skills, motivation and attitude as much as you do on your own. I have completed routes I had first thought to be impossible when these friends were around to push me and threaten me if I dared to come down without giving my best effort. We all took trips outside delhi in search of natural rocks and boulders and very often we did find them. We had all kinds of experience levels in the group and every weekend was made so much fun because of the rush of climbing and going out and the the buzz of the fun chat around you. You would find engineers, lawyers, HR professionals, businessmen, photographers, professional mountaineers, journalists, PhD students, designers and people attached to many other professionals in my motley group of friends at IMF. A lot of foreign nationals, who are visiting Delhi for a temporary short term stay ( or some, like a friend of mine, who have been here for years), come to the wall for their weekend workout. Their kids look simply adorable!
If anybody in Delhi wants to take up rock climbing and is looking for like minded people, then IMF is the place for that person. So please step out, google up the directions for the institute and get your dose of weekend outdoors by going to IMF. ( by the way, if you have the time, you can also go on weekdays and achieve a lot more out of your climbing practice).
Some details for those who are too lazy to open google.com
- IMF website:
- Mountaineering Equipment Hire Charges:
- IMF Address:
- Wall Climbing hours: 8:30 am-12:30 am and 5.30 pm- 9.30 pm
Timings shift by an hour during winters.
- Nearest metro station: AIIMS. Take an autorickshaw from AIIMS. It would and should charge you about Rs. 60-65 by meter or otherwise.
- Landmarks: South Campus ( DU)/ Satyaniketan/Venky college.
Hope this information helps. I have intended to write this post as my contribution to the promotion of the activity of rock climbing in Delhi and the least I can do is by making people aware of the options available to them.