Touring some of the most fascinating orchards in India

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The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. – WB Yeats.

Travelling gives you an adrenaline rush. Once you get addicted to travel, it’s difficult to kick the habit. And one should not cause, travelling opens your mind, makes you humble and realise that you live in a tiny corner of the world and there are so many more places to see and experience. Have you ever tried visiting orchards while travelling? Not only is it a thing of beauty but also makes you aware of the infinite wonders of mother nature. We realise how kindly nature is producing food for us. Introducing a few of the finest fruit orchards in India, that are worth your time.

Apples at Himachal Pradesh

The Himachal valley is lined up with apple and apricot trees and it is one of the most heartwarming sights of Himachal Pradesh. Apples make up over 80 per cent of the state’s Rs 3,500 crore fruit economy, with the fruit primarily grown in Shimla, Kulu, Kinnaur, and Mandi districts. With 39,460 hectares, Shimla accounts for the highest area of the crop under cultivation. You get the opportunity to visit various orchards in HP. Kinnaur, Khotghat, Rohru, Sangla are all mountainous terrain that boasts of rich fruit orchards. Several tourists visit here to tour the apple and apricot farms, sample the jams and drinks called Angoori and Gandi. June-September is the ideal time for a visit. So, besides apples, other fruits that too are produced in Himachal Pradesh are pear, peach, plum, apricot nut fruit, citrus fruits mango, litchi, guava, and strawberry.

Vineyards at Maharashtra

Wine lovers can take a tour around the vineyards of Nasik, Satara, Beed, and Latur and sample some of the finest Indian wines like Sula, York, and Zampa. And not just that they will walk you through the wine-making process, the nuances of wine tasting, and other details. The ideal time to visit these vineyards will be during the India Grape Harvest Festival which falls in February. Some of the other important Vineyards in India are Heritage Vineyards, Ramnagar, Karnataka which is spread across 25 acres of land and serves as a good weekend getaway. Other than the organized tours with a guide, they also have a restaurant Chateau d’Ori, Dindori, Madhya Pradesh which also has three artificial lakes for boating and water sports, luxury farmhouses with jacuzzi, swimming pools, and excellent wine tasting lounges. Fratelli Wines, Akluj, Maharashtra is another vineyard spread across 240 acres of land sprawling in three different sites at Motewadi, Garwad, and Nimgaon. They have approximately 12+ varieties of grapes, imported from France.

The strawberry farms at Meghalaya and Maharashtra 

An early morning ride through the valleys of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani feasting on acres of strawberry farms shining like little red glow bulbs is an absolute delight. The jam brand called Mapro conducts Strawberry festivals during March-April at Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. The Mapro Strawberry Festival is a three-day annual event that is one of the most awaited festivals of Mahabaleshwar; it aims to spread sweetness, cheeriness, and love all over the world. It was initiated roughly four years ago when there was an excess production of strawberries. 

Strawberry lovers can indulge in strawberry pizza, strawberry bhel, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and strawberry sandwiches. Being a seasonal fruit, you should try fruit salads, ice-creams, crushes, juices, and milkshakes on their regular menus. Strawberry jams, jellies, squashes, from MAPRO, Mala, Manama, Pure Berries are best of all. Strawberries and Mahabaleshwar have come a long way. While Mapro Garden is located between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar; Brand Mala, the first brand to introduce the word, ‘Jam’ in India was also originated here. In fact, Mahabaleshwar strawberries contribute to almost 85 per cent of the total strawberry production in the country.

Meghalaya has been hosting the Strawberry festival every year to promote farmers and food production from the fruit. The climate of the state is perfectly fit for the much-loved fruit. People throng to Umsning and Sohliya village in Ri-Bhoi district every February on Valentine's Day to enjoy lush and sweet strawberries. The festival is not only for families and loved ones to come and enjoy but to contribute to the growth of the local farmers and support their economy. It has become the 3rd largest strawberry producer after Maharashtra and Punjab which is a life-changing experience for the people of this small hamlet village. It is also known to be the juiciest and healthiest strawberries that are being produced in India.

The orange Orchards at Punjab and Maharashtra 

Orange, Kinnow, Mandarin are a variety of citrus fruits available abundantly in the orchards of Punjab and Maharashtra. No one needs a special introduction to Nagpur oranges. It is also known as Ponkan. Plant growth is vigorous with compact foliage. Medium-sized fruits, loosely adherent segments 10-12, and abundant juice with 7-8 seeds. It is one of the most popular and finest orange varieties grown in the world. It matures in the January-February months. While Kinnow is a hybrid variety between King and Willow leaf. Plants are large-sized, symmetrical with dense foliage, broad leaves. Fruits are medium in size, deep orange-yellow coloured on ripening, and adherent juicy fruit with 12-24 seeds. Fruit matures in the months of January-February. This variety when first introduced into Punjab performed very well and gained high commercial significance. In Punjab, planting is done in the spring season (February to March) and the monsoon season (15 August to October end). Apparently, tourists are even provided with a tour on a tractor through these orchards. 

The Litchi plantations are Uttarakhand and Bihar 

These heart-shaped blushing red little beauties cannot be missed if you are planning a trip to Uttarakhand. At Uttarakhand, you will see Dehradun Litchis, an early bearing variety that is known for its pulpiness. Did you know that India is the second-largest producer of litchis? The most popular varieties of lichi grown in Bihar are shahi and China. Shahi litchi is harvested in May and Chine is considered a late variety. Since Litchi is a highly perishable item, its export comes with a lot of constraints. Some of the major health benefits of Litchi include aiding weight loss, immunity, digestion, regulate blood pressure, help in removing blemishes, stronger bones, and is a great anti-inflammatory agent. 

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