Born on 21st October, 1830, a Kumaoni, Nain Singh Rawat was one of the first 19th century explorers, who explored the Himalayas for the British. Rai Bahadur Nain Singh Rawat was born in Milam village, a Bhotia village, Johar Valley, Kumaon, Uttarakhand. The Milam glacier is situated where the river Goriganga originates. He literally joined the dots and mapped the trade route through Nepal to Tibet. And, he determined the location and altitude of Lhasa, and mapped a large section of the Brahmaputra for the first time.
The Rawats used to rule the Johar valley, during the reign of Chand dynasty in Kumaon followed by the Gorkha rule. In 1816, the British defeated the Gorkhas, with a non-interference policy and friendship towards the Johar Bhotias. Most of the Bhotia explorers are from Johar village.
After leaving school, Nain Singh helped his father and visited various centres in Tibet, with him. He learned the Tibetan language, culture, customs and manners and mingled with the local people. This knowledge of the Tibetan language and local customs, and protocol was of immense help in his work as a "spy explorer". Extreme cold conditions, have led Milam and other villages of the upper Johar valley to have less inhabitants, who are there for only a few months (5 months or so) from June to October. However, his contributions in gathering information due to exploration has been of immense help.
On 27th June, 2004, an Indian postage stamp was issued in Nain Singh’s honour, featuring him as a paty of his appreciation for his role in the Great Trigonometric Survey. In 2006, Shekhar Pathak and Uma Bhatt collectively brought out a biography of Nain Singh drawing reference from three of his diaries and the RGS articles about his travels. Last year, Google celebrated his 187th birthday with a Google Doodle.