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Hooker's Trail & Sikkimese Flora

 
 

Joseph Dalton Hooker was a Naturalist who had visited Eastern Himalayas in and around 1849.During that time he had visited North Sikkim. In his book “HIMALAYAN JOURNALS” he has elaborately described the Nature and Culture of Sikkim. We have formulated a short itinerary, which will take you to some of the places he’s described in his book. Relive and take the Hooker's trail and discover the Sikkimese Flora with us.

ABOUT JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER
Joseph Dalton Hooker was arguably the most important British botanist of the nineteenth century. A traveller and plant-collector, the importance of Hooker’s work is also evident in his trip to the central and eastern Himalaya (1847–49). Hooker obtained a government grant for the trip and the Admiral gave him free passage on the ships taking Lord Dalhousie, the newly-appointed Governor General, to India.
After visiting Calcutta, Hooker went to Darjeeling where he met Brian Houghton Hodgson, an expert on Nepalese culture, Buddhism and collector of Sanskrit manuscripts who was also a passionate naturalist. The two became close friends and Hodgson helped Hooker prepare for his trip into the Himalaya. However, by the time Hooker was ready to set off for Sikkim in 1848, Hodgson was too ill to accompany him and Dr. Archibald Campbell, the British government agent, went instead.

Sikkim then was not a part of India and was a small Himalayan kingdom. The Chogyals (king) was understandably anxious not to annoy any of his powerful neighbours so he and his chief minister, the Dewan, were particularly suspicious of  travelers like Hooker who surveyed and made maps during their travels. (Their suspicions proved well-founded, as Hooker’s maps later proved to have both economic and military importance to the British.) When Hooker first sought permission to enter Sikkim, the Dewan made considerable efforts to prevent him, and even after pressure from the British administration forced the Dewan to submit, he obstructed their progress in various ways. He particularly urged them not to cross the northern border with Tibet during their explorations, but Hooker and Campbell knowingly ignored his order and the border violation was used by the Dewan as a pretext to arrest and imprison them in November 1849. The British government secured their release within weeks by threatening to invade Sikkim. The elderly Rajah was punished with the annexation of some of his land and the withdrawal of his British pension; a response that even some of the British thought excessive.

Following his release, Hooker spent 1850 traveling with Thomas Thomson in Eastern Bengal and the two returned to England in 1851. Together they wrote the first volume of a projected Flora Indica (1855), which was never completed because of a lack of support from the East India Company (although Hooker eventually produced the Flora of British India, 1872–1897). However, the introductory essay on the geographical relations of India’s flora was to be one of Hooker’s most important statements on biogeographical issues.

Altogether Hooker collected about 7,000 species in India and Nepal and on his return to England, managed to secure another government grant while he classified and named them. The first publication was the Rhododendrons of the Sikkim-Himalaya (1849–51), edited by his father and illustrated by Walter Hood Fitch, whose fine drawings enriched many of both Hookers’ publications. Hooker and Campbell’s travels added 25 new rhododendron species to the 50 already known and the spectacular new species they introduced into Britain helped create a rhododendron craze among British gardeners. Hooker’s journey also produced his Himalayan Journals (1854), which were dedicated to Darwin.

HOOKER'S TRAIL & SIKKIMESE FLORA
06 Days 05 Nights

 Day 01

 

Bagdogra-Gangtok

 Day 02

 

Gangtok- Lachung ( North Sikkim)

 Day 03

 

Lachung-Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary.
Packed lunch and spend the day at the sanctuary. Overnight at Lachung

 Day 04

 

Lachung to Kalapathar(Thangu). Overnight halt in a hut/ tent.

Day 05

 

Kalapathar - Chopta Valley. Explore different alpine floral species.

Day 06

 

Thangu - Gangtok

 

 

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