Who introduced Apples to Himachal?

It is really quite great to know about the great efforts of a noble human being and visionary like Late Satyanand Stokes whose contribution to the introduction of ‘Delicious’ quality Apple to all of us in this part of the world shall always remain thankful forever.

This has reference to the write up titled ‘Samuel Stokes’ Legacy in India: Apples and Independence’ by Faiza Elmasry and ‘How the apple came to India’ by Sanjay Versain, posted on My Himachal Blog few days back.

Satyanand Stokes brought the Delicious varieties
of apples to Ilaqa Kotgarh.

The opening sentence in the write up titled ‘Samuel Stokes’ Legacy in India: Apples and Independence’, itself says “Apple growers in India’s Western Himalayas still remember Samuel Evans Stokes, the American who brought the fruit to their land a century ago”, while in the second write up titled ‘How the apple came to India’ too mentions about contribution of Late Satyanand Stokes for introducing apples in India at large, leave alone Himachal, as what I got to know is clear from the following as mentioned in the write up :

” He told me the story of the man who introduced to India, the deliciously sweet apples that we now enjoy. Samuel Evan Stokes at the age of 21, came to India with the intention of working at a home for lepers in the Simla hills.”

On the other hand, the write up also mentions the following :

Captain R C Scot of the British army had introduced apples to the Kullu valley in 1870. These apples, the Newton Pippin, King of Pippin and the Cox’s Orange Pippin were strains of the English sour apples that were not popular because of their taste. To meet the demand of the Indian market, sweet apples were still being imported from Japan.

All the stuff, somehow, made me quite unclear at my end as to who rightly, genuinely could be credited with, for the birth and introduction of apple, whether in India or Himachal.

Demonstration high density apple orchard at Dr YS Parmar Horticulture University, Nauni – Solan

So, out of curiosity to further gather information on Late Satyanand Stokes and his noble efforts be it working for the Lepers or being the only American to have participated in the Indian freedom movement or as an introducer of apple here, and also my keenness, to know about apples’ birth or introduction, I got to explore for knowing about apple cultivation in Himachal, its introduction etc. as Himachali apples are renowned and sworn all over for its great taste and, quality.

In the process of getting to know, I happened to come across some more feed or say information on apple’s introduction in Himachal when I got to lay my eyes on one piece of information from the paragraph from a book titled ‘Tourism in Himachal Pradesh’ by Manoj Jreat, where it is mentioned that commercial plantation of apples started in Himachal with the introduction of apples mostly of sour variety by the Christian missionaries and British officers in the middle of the 19th Century. Noted among them were Capt. Lee who introduced English varieties of apples in Kullu valley and Alexander Couts who planted an orchard at Mashobra near Shimla in about 1887. The Couts Garden as it was popularly known, today houses the Regional Horticulture Research Station of Y. S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry. It is also mentioned that the credit of taking up apple cultivation on a large scale in Himahcal goes to Samuel Stokes (Late Satyanad Stokes), a resident of Philadelphia who came to India in 1904 as a missionary worker.

Though it is also mentioned that ‘Delicious’ variety of apples is the most important commercial variety that is grown in the State.

Going by all the stuff as above, it is understood that Late Stokes’s contribution be taken as that of introducing the variety of ‘Delicious’, which no doubt enjoys the greatest patronage all over. So would he be considered as a person as an introducer of apple in Himachal or say even India on the whole ????

May be through better research, we get to finalise a name of the person responsible for the birth of apple here in Devbhoomi ! !

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  1. says: promod

    Red delicious apples were undoubtedly, introduced into Kotgarh, Shimla Hills, India by Satyanand (Samuel) Stokes. But it would be wrong to say that he was the first to introduce the fruit ‘apple’ to India. It would also be interesting to note that there were pre-British missionaries operating in the western Himalaya up to Shimla hills, Kullu-Manali, Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Laddakh. These were mainly German missionaries. Therefore, besides the early British, there is a possibility that these Germans could also have brought apples of other varieties with them, well before the British arrived in Shimla hills.

    Now coming back to Mr.Stokes, the word of mouth goes that:

    It was sometime in 1930’s that he experimented with various varieties from the West and failed initially to get a suitable one for that region. Finally, he got the ‘red delicious’variety – perhaps from Australia though, the origins of this variety are said to be in England- which was successful. Later, a more colourful mutation of this variety called Royal delicious became a major hit among the growers, the traders and the consumers.

    The word of mouth also goes that this red delicious was strictly ‘not meant to be distributed outside the family. But Mr. Stokes could not live much longer to keep it confined and the plants of this commercially viable variety got proliferated on a large scale throughout the area, soon. Over the next 50 years this variety got spread far and wide through the Himalaya and even up to Nepal and Bhutan.

    The commercial success of this variety was so huge that the name of Mr. Stokes, though quite appropriately, assumed a position of a deified mortal among the people of Illaqua Kotgarh of Shimla hills. It would also not be an exaggeration that Mr. Stoke’s efforts to find a suitable variety brought about a horticultural revolution in the western Himalaya and finally, Himachal became the state to be identified with apples. Now, it is the largest commercial activity of that state.

    The credit of commercial viability also goes to Mr. Kedar Nath Chauhan of Kotgarh who was the pioneer of post harvest management of apples in modern terms. He was the one to introduce a standard of apple grading and packaging. His standard of measure and packing is still in vogue.

    To sum it up, Mr. Stokes introduced a successful variety of apple but not the fruit; and finally, it was the great hard work of the people of Kotgarh Illaqua that Himachal also became to be known as an apple state.

    However, this information may not be helpful in satisfying the quest of the article above. Yet, this is some additional info on the basis of word of mouth for the sake of interest among the inquisitive!

  2. says: Saurabh Bhakri

    Dear Promod,
    Thanks for some more interesting facts, additional information.
    Well, as far as getting the variety of ‘Delicious’ is concerned, it is believed (as whatever I have come across through Black & White, this domain itself …) that the variety, as saplings was brought from Louisiana (USA) where it was patented by Stark Brothers.
    No doubt it’s a rage now all over.

  3. says: Egonne Roth

    IN the 1866 diary of Maria Heyde whose husband was the first Moravian missionary in Himachal Pradesh in Keylong she writes of feeding her child apple puree and elsewhere she writes about serving apple wedges. My great grandparents were also Moravian missionaries, first in Leh Ladakh and then for 8 years in keylong 1903 -1911. My great grandmother writes in her diary that there were so many apples in the village that there was no one to give her surplus to.

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