As the snow starts to melt and spring rolls around, the long stretches of apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh bloom in colours ranging from subtle green to luscious red. Drive through the streets and you’ll see the workers picking and carting the apples in the triangular baskets attached to their backs as well as the markets bursting with fresh produce. With the apple orchards blooming everywhere, the heady smell of ripe apples perfumes the fresh Pahadi air.
A Lesson in History
Himachal Pradesh is India’s second-largest producer of the fruit. It’s been almost a century since apples were first introduced to the valley. In 1870, a British army officer introduced a variety of English apples to Kullu Valley. Since they were sour for the Indian palate, it didn’t catch the attention of the farmers.
In 1915, Samuel Stokes was responsible for apple cultivation in India. Belonging to the distinguished Quaker family and an American missionary working in the leper colony of Shimla, he brought a few saplings of the new strain of apples, Red Delicious, from a nursery in Louisiana. They were planted in his orchard in Thanedhar village where the first trees bore fruit in 1926. Soon, the farmers came around following the popularity of this sweeter variety of apples. The locals switched out wheat for apples. 100 years later, the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh contribute largely to the state’s economy.
Experiencing the Heritage at Thanedhar Estate
Set in the timeless city of Shimla is a 4-bedroom villa on a hilltop, SaffronStays Thanedhar Estate. Nestled on an apple orchard, this estate has a legacy of 100 years. The family has a close connection with Samuel Satyanand Stokes, the pioneer of apple cultivation. Experience the rich heritage pulsing through the air as you take a walk amidst the fruit-laden boughs.
Set on a hilltop, Thanedhar Estate offers expansive views of the surrounding orchards. Rows and rows of apple, as well as cherry trees, line the slope. Wake up to the view of the surroundings soaked in shades of green punctuated with vibrant red spots.
As you traverse through the orchard to reach the house, the front porch furnished with a seating area sporting colourful cushions brightens the space. The interiors of the home are decked up in muted tones of cream and brown lending a cosy and comfortable vibe that instantly makes you feel at home. Embroidered cushion covers, retro-style lamps, mood paintings and photographs, all add to the aesthetic charm of the home.
A home that is designed to put any soul at ease, it has multiple seating areas where you can just sit and let the surroundings take over you. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the front porch or from the common verandah that joins all the bedrooms. Appreciate the warm sunlight dancing on your face as you sit on the porch. Enjoy the sunset from the verandah as sunlight pours through the glass window.
Call of the Valley
If you’re visiting between June and September, you’re in for some luck. You might get to pluck the apples right from the trees (under the Thanedhar Estate Manager’s expert guidance, of course!). Since, you’re in the land of snow-clad mountains, beautiful lakes and stunningly rich greenery of Shimla, it’ll almost be a crime to let it go unexplored. Visit Hatu Peak, a 30-minute drive from the estate. Trek to the top and enjoy the magnificent 360° view of the towering Himalayas. A quaint picnic spot, Tani Jubbar Lake is surrounded by tall trees and mountains making it a must-visit.
The clear blue skies, mighty mountains, lush green cover, the sweet smell of the luscious red fruits, home-like hospitality at SaffronStays Thanedhar Estate beckons you to enjoy the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh.