Monday, March 05, 2012

Apple - the golden fruit of Kashmir!

Pure Kashmiri Golden apples sold in November in Srinagar streets
Gold and delicious!

Picture: France Lenne

I love apples! Such a beautiful and delicious fruit! My favourite of all! What a great surprise to see all these apples in Srinagar, sold in the streets! As a foreigner, I had no idea of the existence of Kashmiri apples.  Quite normal in fact! Kashmir exports only a small percentage of its production abroad (essentially to neighbouring countries Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal). But apples of Jammu & Kashmir are sold all over India: the region supplies about 70% of apples in India followed by Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakand. Over a million tons! In reason of climate changes, political unrest and lack of cold storage facilities (among all), the production varies up or down over years. But the recent signs of a durable tranquillity since summer 2011 [1] and the development of internet as new sales channel set hopes for growers to have better access to international markets such south Asia and Middle East [2].

The Golden, and above all, the Red Delicious are the most cultivated in Kashmir as they are highly appreciated by Indian consumers.  Those species have been first introduced in Himachal Pradesh by the British from 1917 [3]. However, it is an indigenous variety, the Ambri, which remains the most popular in Kashmir. This red striped apple, described as sweet and crisp, is thought to have been cultivated long before western introductions [4].

Since ancient times, Kashmir has been a fertile land for fruit trees. Kashmiri forests are abundant in flora and fauna. The Himalayas form a barrier to both glacial winds from Tibetan plateau and monsoon winds from India.  In addition to high altitude, this climatic phenomenon creates a temperate and rainy weather, suitable to the growth of numerous fruit trees. It is known that fruits such as apples were already cultivated 1000 BC under the reign of King Nara as mentioned by P.N. Wanchoo [5].

Designated as tsunt (chunt), the apple is embedded in the Kashmiri culture as a few Kashmiri proverbs attest it. Kashmiris say An apple gets colour on seeing another apple” (tsunt chu tsunthis vuchith rang ratan)  to point a person influenced by the company he/she keeps. 

The anecdote of an old woman who came back with a empty basket to collect apples, after having earlier found one under a tree (Bujih labiav kuji tal tsunt, adat gayi phut hit) warns us that when a little is once given, a lot is later expected to be given [6].

[1] Joseph M., 2012, Face of Hope Reflects Calm in Kashmir, New York Times, February 29th 2012, Online Available at:
[2] Wani Izhar, 2004, Kashmir: a byte out of apple market, Online Available at:
[3] Ghosh S.P., 1997?, Deciduous fruit production in IndiaFAO, Online Available at:
[4] Mota A., 2009, Apples of kashmir, Chinar Shade blog, Online Available at:
[5] Wanchoo P.N., date?, Kashmir - Old Home of Temperate Fruits, Online Available at:
[6] Koul O.N., 2005, A Dictionary o f Kashmiri Proverbs, Second Edition, Delhi: Indian Institute of Language Studies