India is a heaven for the travelers with a wide range of terrains available across the length and breadth of the sub-continent. People from all across the globe visit India, to have some wonderful experiences like wildlife adventure, heritage sites, colourful festivals, exciting desert trails and some exotic snow destinations. With a blend of some great cultures, traditions and lifestyles of various states, India is better known as Incredible India, worldwide. Apart from some regular tourist attractions, India also has some lesser known experiences to offer – one among the list is – Apple and Cherry Blossom trails.
Many people are unaware of this and when it comes to Cherry and Apple Blossoms, they can only imagine The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Tidal Basin – Washington DC, USA or Sakura, Japan. But Cherry Blossoms is speculated to be native to the Himalayas. There are some amazing locations in the world where you can experience the beauty of the peak bloom of the blossoms. It is not easy to predict when exactly the buds will open offering the much awaited spectacular panoramic view. Every year, thousands of Cherry and Apple trees burst into colour offering a beautiful display of blossoms.
If you want to experience these amazing panoramic views of blossoms, you need not visit US or Japan, you can experience it in India as well, which is second to none. One such less-explored destination is – Narkanda. It is situated at 2708 meters on NH-22 (Hindustan-Tibet Road), a township in the district of Shimla. It offers mesmerizing scenic views of snow ranges which makes it an ideal retreat for those who love to be secluded between the snow-filled mountains. Narkanda which is famous for skiing and winters sports in winter, is not only a winter destinations, but it also offers spectacular views of Cherry & Apple blossoms in summers. It is a gateway to Apple Country of Himachal Pradesh, which connects Shimla with Rampur and a diversion leading to Thanedar. Thanedar and Kotgarh is the prime apple belt of the state.
History of Apple Cultivation in Himachal Pradesh, India
Apple was not grown in India before, Mr. Stokes, an American Settled in India, introduced the apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh. Now apples are the major export crop of the state which is the major part of the revenue for the state after tourism. Satyanand Stokes, the son of an American Businessman – Sameul Evans Stokes, settled in Kotgarh, Shimla. He believed in living a simple life and adopted the local lifestyle of the people living there. He realized that those conventional crops grown at such height is not enough to yield required revenue to the peasants. He made his efforts and analyzed how he can improve the life of local people who were forced to beg or to do labour work at very low wages. Apple was always grown in hills and this was the key idea for him. In 1925, he imported apple plants for the farmers and distributed for free which was at the cost of a dollar that time. He adopted American practices of apple grading, packing and marketing and did a great job to increase the prosperity of the local people and sold the apple boxes with name – Kotgarh Apples. He did his sincere efforts to standardize the quality and size of apple for commercial cultivation.
Present Day Apple & Cherry Orchards destination
Apple became the dominant crop at high fields above 600 ft and 1/8th part of the total cultivated area of the state is under apple cultivation and major part of it is in Shimla District. Thanedar and Kotgarh is the major apple belt of Himachal which just at few minutes’ drive from Narkanda.
This winter destination – Narkanda offers a marvelous walks through apple and cherry orchards in summers. The hills blanketed with apple and cherry orchards, create pink and white panorama of blossoms in spring season offering spectacular views, just like Sakura in Japan. These blossoms turn to fruits in autumn and are plucked and processed for export. V Resorts in Narkanda (a beautiful ski cottage) organizes special apple and cherry orchard visits and picnic amidst cherry blossom for its guests. So, if you are wondering where to go this summer, here’s pick for you…