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Vaishali Singh Aug 05 2013

What is the story of apple orchards in Thanedar, near Shimla?

Shikha Gautam Aug 05 2013
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The apple-growing settlements of Thanedar-Kotgarh region owe their prosperity to the ingenuity of Samuel Satyanand Stokes (1882-1946). This missionary from Philadelphia came towork in Punjab in 1904. When he visited Kotgarh, he was deeply moved by the poverty there and decided to stay back.

Photo of Orchards in Thanedar

In 1916, Stokes planted his first orchard in Barobagh with a few saplings brought from America. He continued experimenting and finally selected the now-famous Red Delicious and the Golden Delicious varieties to propagate. In 1927, his apples took the Shimla market by storm. To convince farmers to switch to apples, he distributed plants for free or at a nominal price. He pursued the administration for infrastructure for transport and marketing. His efforts resulted in a booming apple industry.

A local picking apples in Thanedar

Stokes’ life is the saga of a man who, as he said, “came to teach but stayed to learn” and who was constantly guided by his desire to help the locals. Troubled by the poverty around him, Stokes gave away all his belongings and shifted to a cave near Kotgarh to lead the life of anascetic; the sahib became sadhu. He became increasingly interested in Hindu philosophy and was influenced by the Arya Samaj. He looked after destitute children, set up a boarding school and—disturbed by racism even within the church — married a local Christian Rajput. He learned Hindustani and in 1932 embraced Hinduism, becoming Satyanand Stokes. He took up cudgels against begar — unpaid forced labour — in the 1920s and 30s. Stokes also became one of the earliest believers in total independence for India, was an active associate of Mahatma Gandhi and was also jailed for his role in India’s struggle for freedom. When this ‘American in Khadi’, dressed in a khadi coat, dhoti and cap, spun his charkha everyday, Britishers who saw him almost had a fit!

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