Best Places for Apple Orchards in ManaliUnlike the hotter climes of India where Apples are prized as a premium fruit, Manali citizens live, breathe and co habit with apple trees for the greater part of the year. Almost 60% of India’s domestic Apple needs are met by Shimla-Manali. I had always wanted to experience the feeling of visiting an orchard full of ripe apples and biting into the delicious fruit picked up from the lap of nature. It’s with this aim that I and my husband; both avid apple lovers set off for Old Manali where apple farming is one of the major forms of sustenance.
Almost every person who is native to Manali can claim association with at least one apple tree growing in his/her backyard. When we reached Log Hut which is a small quaint settlement nestled amongst the small hillocks of Manali we were stunned to see that the small hotels and wooden cabins were hidden away by the huge multitude of Apple trees growing there. We chose The Orchard Greens which is a 4 star hotel in Log Hut.
The hotel was completely surrounded by nature and had its own private garden blooming with hyacinths, dahlias, roses and rosemary shrubs. However we were in no mood to admire the beauty of the place as after depositing our luggage in the superbly furnished room. We rushed away to explore the local apple orchard which was just 1 km away from the hotel.
Apple Picking Experiences in Log HutThe sight which greeted us was astounding. About 18 km of land only filled with Apple trees and almost all of them filled with ripe ready to eat juicy apples. The local guy tending the orchard probably had experienced other apple crazy tourists in the past and therefore smiled indulgently as we made our way inside the orchard with a wicker basket in hand (provided to us by the same guy). Within the next half an hour we realized that apple picking is no joke.
Firstly the apple has to smelled and prodded with fingers to determine whether it’s fully ripened. Then it has to be checked for worms before being lucked. Some apples were at quite a height and though it was entertaining for us to try jump ad reach them; logic tells me that professional apple pickers do have to work quite hard.
However what makes up for all the trouble is the amazing smell and aroma of the orchard. It seems like one has walked straight into the heart of Apple Pie as the smell of apples will penetrate each pore of the body.
Different Varieties of Manali ApplesWe were lucky enough to see a couple of late bloomers; apple trees covered with snow bud white apple blossoms. We were told that the late bloomers were Maharajji Apple trees which only bore fruit in late October. Most other varieties of Apples like Hazaratbali (small conical shaped apples), Kesri (yellow sweet apple), American Trel (medium sized hard red apple) and the famous Delicious variety of apples (world famous super sweet red apple) all ripen between July to September.
After gorging ourselves sick (we only had apples for lunch that day) we returned to the Orchard Green Resort where we had the privilege of watching the chef Shastri prepare apple meringue pie with the Kesri Apples that we had picked.
We undertook many other activities like trekking, sightseeing and shopping in Manali but the day spent in the sanctity of the fragrant Apple orchard remains fresh as a unique memory. For a similar experience the Jagat Sukh area and the orchard near Gauri Shankar Temple is suggested.