A 23-hour-long journey, by road, from Delhi would lead you to the mesmerizing land of sky-piercing mountains blessed with an orchard of crunchy –juicy apples in Kinnaur.
Kinnaur is a district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, just 235 km away from the popular hill station Shimla. With an altitude ranging from 2320 to 6816 meters, Kinnaur is the smallest district in terms of population in India and close to the Tibetan border.
An underlying fact of this region as per a study reveals the country’s cleanest air, which would definitely attract city dwellers to breathe in some fresh air.
The variety of Kinnauri apples grown chiefly are Royal, Rich Red, Red Golden, Red, Golden. When Kashmir is always at the top for ages in terms of apple produce, looks and sweetness make Kinnaur different and unique from the rest.
Himachal Pradesh is the 2nd largest producer in India. Well, the region seems to be blessed in a way or somehow the alias name received by the state as “Dev Bhoomi” or “the land of Gods and Goddesses” is true to its sense.
Kinnauri apples feature their indigenous natural sweetness, colour, crunchiness and juiciness. In favourable ambient conditions, apples of other region have a shelf life of 2 months, whereas Kinnauri Apples double that time with a span of 4 months, to be precise.
Even the apple laden trees are unique with a life expectancy from 35-50 years compared to different commercial variety in other Himalayan regions, which last from 6 to 9 years, and in scarce high yielding varieties, they stay up to 15-20 years. So the people involved with the grafting of these apple trees, be it from the private nursery or the agricultural department takes utmost traditional care and utilizes modern techniques to sustain the actual traits of Kinnaur.
Geographically, the higher altitudes, cold weather, sufficient sunlight, and crisp-chilled air boost a perfect environment to grow and nurture these crops. The valleys of Pooh, Leo, Ka, Sangla, Changu are the major apple belts of the district.
Anyone who visits during the harvesting season will realize what makes the talk of the town so fruity and indulging with just a single identity, “apple”.
Walking, climbing, puffing- panting while visiting these orchards to tug an apple directly from the tree, accompanied with the view of snow-capped mountains in far way vicinity, inhaling the purest air and enjoying every bite of the fruit as its juices run over your fingers and palm is worth a taste of life to be cherished forever.