Interested in Sikkim?
Britt Smith, Kent, Washington
During the Annual Meeting of the American Rhododendron Society in San Francisco late in April, 1972, it was my pleasure to present a group of color slides taken by Mr. Tse Ten Tashi of Gangtok, Sikkim. Along with these photographs of rhododendrons of Sikkim and Bhutan Himalaya, we had a message from Her Majesty, Hope Namgyal, Gyalmo of Sikkim, and a message from Mr. K. C. Pradhan, Conservator of Forests, regarding rhododendrons and rhododendron sanctuaries there. Her Majesty expressed the hope that one day we could have an American Rhododendron Society meeting in Sikkim when the rhododendrons are in bloom.
After the talk, several members asked if it would be possible to arrange a rhododendron tour of Sikkim. Others asked if it is possible for an individual to contribute financially to the establishment and maintenance of rhododendron sanctuaries in Sikkim. These questions were relayed to Her Majesty and her reply follows:
3rd July, 1972
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you so much for your letter of 24th, May and also for the very interesting enclosures. We were delighted to hear that the rhododendron conference in San Francisco went off well and that the slides and Keshab Prodhan's article arrived safely. Since receiving your enquiry about the possibility of touring the rhododendron areas in Sikkim we have had much discussion among ourselves. Mr. Prodhan and Yapla T. H. Tashi think it possible to arrange such a tour next spring if you would be interested. We would need to know about the general hardiness of the people making the trip as some of the rhododendron areas require more walking than other areas. Also you would need to apply for your innerline crossing permits well in advance as you know the applications take a long time to process. Yesterday Yapla and Mr. Prodhan and I made a tour in the high parts of the country near Nathula. We looked at quite a few places which would be good for high altitude rhododendron preservation, also we are thinking in terms of making sanctuaries in Western Sikkim which being a non-army area is easier for people to visit. We would welcome any support from flower lovers in America and I think Yapla and Mr. Prodhan are proposing to set up a small trust in the Sikkim State Bank particularly for the creation and up-keep of rhododendron sanctuaries.
With kindest regards to you and Mrs. Smith.
Galmo of Sikkim
The American Rhododendron Society will establish a special account for contributions to the support of the Sikkim rhododendron sanctuaries and will receive contributions designated for this purpose. Donors may treat such contributions as tax deductible pursuant to an IRS ruling specifically requested by the ARS.
Correspondence is invited from those who are seriously interested in a rhododendron tour of Sikkim. Such a group would be limited by the accommodations available to 30 or perhaps 40 persons. The cost is yet to be determined. Air fare around the world is approximately $1,300, and probably it would require three weeks to make the trip, which would tentatively be scheduled for the last two weeks in April and the first week in May.