He was born at Murree in India to a British family. In 1886 he made an expedition into Manchuria, and was responsible for discovering the Mustagh Pass as a route between Kashgar and India. In 1902, he explored Tibet, about which very little was known in the western world. He subsequently settled in Kashmir for several years.
Younghusband is also known as the founder of the World Congress of Faiths (1936).