Looking for a weekend getaway for your family? Here's a list of India's best fruit-picking destinations, where you can get your hands dirty, and reap some delicious rewards.
We’ve all heard the stories within our families, of sweltering summers and hours spent outdoors, and how our elders spent much of their childhood lounging around towering fruit trees in the neighbourhood, plucking the freshest harvest to consume for leisure.
The next time you travel, you can live those memories too. Whether you’re heading to the south or the east, or anywhere in between, there are several destinations where you can stop to not only take in the picturesque view of vast fruit orchards but also pluck some harvest to keep (and eat!) as a remembrance.
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From the fresh kinnows of Punjab to the delectable strawberries of Meghalaya, the juicy lychees of Bihar, and the sweet mangoes of Ratnagiri, here are 10 of our favourite fruit picking destinations in India:
1. Chikoos and mangoes in Maharashtra
The coastal towns of Gholvad and Dahanu are famous for their ripe repositories of sapodilla, known to Indians as chikoo. There are many versions of the tale of how these fruits arrived at the shores of these regions, among them being the story of how Seth Dinshaw Petit, a textile magnate, was the first to plant a chikoo sapling he brought from Central America. Today, thousands of Parsi families carry on the plantation of these fruits on their ancestral lands, selling their produce far and wide across the country.
Dahanu’s Bordi beach also sees an annual Chikoo festival around January and February, where visitors can help boost the local economy by engaging in farming activities, trying out the local cuisine, and more.
Season: December to March
Meanwhile, Maharashtra is also home to delicious Alphonso mangoes, grown abundantly in Ratnagiri and Palshet — the former being a major exporter of the fruit to other Indian destinations. In fact, the entire Konkan belt is teeming with thousands of mango plantations — try, for example, the Farm of Happiness, an agro-tourism farm stay where alongside trekking, bird watching, stargazing and fishing, visitors can try their hands at organic farming and learn how the lucrative mango moves from farm to fork.
Season: May to August
2. Strawberries in Meghalaya
The tiny village of Sohliya, located in the Ri Bhoi district, is famous for its rich strawberry cultivation, where almost all houses grow the fruit on their own lands. In fact, this village is credited with catapulting the strawberry revolution in the state.
You might even find the perfect way to mark your next Valentine’s Day — every year, the villages of Sohliya and Umsning hold a strawberry festival on February 14, where people can pluck and enjoy the delicious harvest, as well as sample strawberry wine, ice-cream, and more. The people of Meghalaya consider the fruit a symbol of love.
Season: January to March
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3. Pineapples in Manipur
Manipur, which leads India in the cultivation of pineapples, is sought-after for its lush farms and pineapple festivals. The state also organises a Pineapple Festival in late August or the first week of September in Churachandpur district — the largest producer of pineapple in the state. In particular, you will find the village of Thayong teeming with lush pineapple farms.
Season: March to September
4. ‘Kinnow’ in Punjab
In districts like Abohar, Fazilka, Hoshiarpur, Muktsar and Bathinda, one will find thousands of hectares of lush kinnow orchards. This is a high-yield variety of the mandarin fruit, and one tree can yield around 1,000 fruits. You can use this fruit to make warm winter drinks, squashes, cakes, and more.
You can also head to farms like Citrus County in Hoshiarpur to experience kinnow picking.
Season: Late October to February
5. Plums, Peaches and Apricots in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s Ramgarh, also known as the ‘Fruit Bowl of Kumaon’, has endless plum, peach, apricot, pear, and apple orchards to pick from. A popular destination especially for those living in and around Delhi, it has a vast variety of orchards and homestays where you can not only while away your summer but also enjoy the fresh harvest, ripe for the plucking.
Meanwhile, you’ll also find immense beauty and fresh produce in Mukteshwar, Nainital, Almorah and Bageshwar regions. Other than peaches and apricots, regional fruits like Ghingaru, Kilmode and Dadim are also cultivated here.
Mukteshwar’s Sitla is a serene place to stay in the midst of these orchards.
Season: May to August
6. Apples in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh
The story goes that Samuel Stokes, who also went by the name Satyananda, arrived in India on a spiritual journey, and fell so in love with the country that he made it a permanent home. He dedicated his energy to farming and is credited with giving Himachal Pradesh a new American variety of apples, which catapulted the state’s apple revolution.
Today, we know the mountainous region to be home to a vast variety of fresh apples. In fact, over 1.75 lakh families depend on the fruit today.
So if you’re heading to Kinnaur, Shimla, Mandi or Kullu, you will find several orchards that map the expanse of these regions. In fact, Shimla is particularly popular for apple orchards, including the Banjara Orchard Retreat, Thanedar.
You’ll also find a plethora of orchards to choose from if you head to Jammu & Kashmir — the state is famous for its sweet apples across the globe. You’ll find an abundance in districts like Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Baramulla, Anantnag, and Shopian. Particularly famous is the Sopore town in Baramulla, also known as the Apple Town of Kashmir, which has Asia’s second largest fruit mandi.
Season: June to September
7. Lychees in Bihar
Muzaffarpur, the ‘Lychee Kingdom’ of India, is known for aromatic and delicious Shahi Lychees, which are known to have the highest amount of pulp, and are exported all across the country. Head to Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran, and Begusarai districts to find an abundance of farms and orchards where you can pick these delicious fruits from.
Use your harvest in a fresh sorbet, add it to phirni, or even pair it with meats like prawns and pork!
Season: May to June
8. Grapes in Maharashtra
First brought to India by Persian invaders, grapes are found in abundance in Maharashtra, predominantly in Nashik — the ‘Wine Capital of India’ — alongside Sangli, Satara, and Ahmednagar.
Head to the vineyards in Nashik to have your pick of the freshest grapes — whether in their fruit form or as exquisite wine. The district, alongside Satara, Beed, and Latur, is among the major locations chosen by top winemakers like Sula, York, and Zampa. Every February, Nashik celebrates the Grape Harvest Festival to mark the grape-crushing season, which lasts until April.
Popular farms in Nashik include the Sula and Vallonne vineyards. And in most areas, you can not only enjoy plucking the fruit but also participate in grape stomping for an extra dose of fun.
Season: January to May
9. Strawberries in Karnataka
Strawberry cultivation is quite new for the farmers of Karnataka. But it has gained traction over time due to massive demand. Areas like Chikkaballapur and Rajanukunte near the city of Bengaluru, while usually known for grape cultivation, grains, and silkworms, have also started growing strawberries.
If you’re in or around Bengaluru, you can drive down to Wholesome Farms, a 20-acre farm in Marathi Palya, for strawberry picking.
Season: November to March
10. Apricots in Ladakh
Known as chulli in Ladakhi, apricots have been cultivated widely in the area for the last 100 years or so. Here, you’ll also find the “world’s sweetest apricot”, Raktsey Karpo, which is mostly always grown organically. Other varieties include the Halman, Safaida, Lakste-karpo and Khanteh. You can use it in mutton dishes to enhance the flavour, alongside in jams, pickles, and more.
Pick the ripest apricots at the Apricot Village Homestay in Tsogsti.
Season: July to September
Harvesting Happiness : India’s Best Orchards for Fruit Picking Holidays, published by The Better India on 14 June 2016.
This Summer, Go Fruit-Picking Across Orchards in India, published by NatGeo Traveller on 26 February 2016.
Holidays In India | Fruit, Picking Vacations Across India, published by Times of India on 26 November 2015.
12 Apple Orchard Holiday Destinations In India For A Family Vacation, published by Tour my India on 4 December 2018.
The grit, fun, and madness behind the chikoo farms of Indian Parsis, published by QZ India on 5 February 2018.
Maharashtrian Beach Town To Promote Sustainable Tourism, published by Outlook Traveller on 10 March 2022.
Economics of Kinnow fruit Production, published by Krishi Sewa on 4 July 2019.
Fruits of Uttarakhand – 8 Popular Garhwal and Kumaon Local Fruits, published by Namaste India Trip.
Meet Samuel Stokes, The Man Who Introduced Apple Cultivation In Himachal Pradesh, published by Homegrown on 29 July 2021.
Edited by Divya Sethu