Magical Berry Farming in Rajsamand

We are always on tight schedules when we go to our hometown. Still we have always visited my brother-in-law in Rajsamand. They are perfect hosts and know our weakness very well. Every time we crib about our short visit, they always put forth some wonderful opportunity of visiting an interesting remote place, which we just cannot resist!

Their generosity has pampered us and made us a schnorrer. So true to this noun, meaning “a person who habitually takes advantage of other’s generosity often through an entitlement”, this time we put forth the condition that we would visit them only if they promise to take us to an agricultural farm. Being nice hosts they happily agreed.

Rachit was keenly interested to visit a farm since long. He always imagined and asked us how the tomatoes, brinjal … grow on plants. Are they so big and red from beginning or what! We also wanted Rachit to appreciate the bounty of fruits and vegetables Mother Nature has bestowed upon us and to avoid the notion that Mother Dairy grows fruits and vegetables in its factory.

A cloudy day in Rajasamand

A cloudy day in Rajasamand


Rajsamand is a small town located around 60 km from Udaipur and is now a full-fledged district of Rajasthan. The town has got its name from Rajsamand lake around which it is situated. This is an artificial lake created in the 17th century by Rana Raj Singh of Mewar. The area around this town is very rich in marble, granite and other varieties of precious stones. Most of the people here are engaged in mining related work. This business has made many of them very rich. If good quality marble is found under someone’s land in this region then that land becomes a gold mine for him.

Money is always a double-edged sword. It has virtues, but easy money has vices too.

Indiscriminate mining and mismanagement of slurry are the main issues that have caused serious ecological imbalances in the region. The lake that was rarely empty before, rarely gets filled to its capacity in recent years. All the catchments area of the lake and the paths through which rainwater made its way to the lake are blocked with the dump of marble slurry.

Many of these mine owners have invested their fortunes to buy big farms. As they were farmers for generations this investment suits their basic skills. One of my brother-in-law’s client owns around 70-80 beeghas of farm. When we requested him that we would like to visit the farm, he happily agreed.

Butterfly Pea flower (Shankha Pushpa)

Butterfly Pea flower (Shankha Pushpa)

We reached Rajsamand with high hopes of visiting the farm. The client sent his son to take us to his farm. When the gates of the farm were opened a whole new world appeared in front of us. It was a big farm full of magical berry along with Lemon. The Magical Berry with its sour and tangy taste is an excellent source of vitamin C. One fruit of it is equivalent to two oranges. Any guesses about this magical berry?

Yes, I am talking about amla. The fruit that boosts immunity, slows ageing, restores vitality and rejuvenates all bodily systems was, at that moment, redefining our sense of beauty too!

The Magical Berry

The Magical Berry

Another Bunch of Amla

Another Bunch of Amla

We walked in the green and tranquil surroundings of the farm enjoying the sight of trees laden with overwhelming crop of amla and lemon. Our host told us that they have given a contract to collect amla from their farm for around Rs 12 Lacs. The kids started picking Lemon – amla and also began competing with each other over who plucks more. They were enjoying it so much that they refused to move ahead till all of them had their hands and pockets full.

How to pluck lemons without hurting fingers

Jaishree teaching kids how to pluck lemons without hurting fingers

On job training

On job training

Our host took us to the terrace where amla was being dried and explained us that the amla that was not sold fresh was dried and later on sold as dried-amla or mixed in amla candies and churan. In amla, vitamin C is retained in both fresh and dried form. Vitamin C is heat sensitive and gets destroyed in processing, however this fruit contains special chemical substance that prevents the oxidation of vitamins in it and minimizes its losses.

Amla dried on Terrace

Amla dried on Terrace

When we were coming down from the terrace we noticed a deep well in the corner. Pigeons were resting inside protecting themselves from the heat outside. That was the first well that Rachit had ever seen. Now it was easier for him to relate with the story of “Lion and Rabbit”. Peeping in these deep wells still increases my heartbeat. When I was a kid, there was an abandoned well between my school and my home. That well used to generate a curious awe in my friends and me. We used to shout there sometimes listening to our echoes, or used to throw stones listening to the splashing chhapaak. Sometimes I also used to get an opportunity to fetch water from a well. As long as the bucket remained immersed in water, it felt light and then there was sudden load on the hands immediately as it came out of the water. My mind tells me that it was due to buoyant force and my heart says that these scientific theorems and laws have taken the fun out of playful observations and feelings.

Other fruits that we noticed growing in the farm were “cheeku” (sapodilla), guava and banana.

The well

The well

Sapodilla

Sapodilla

Guava

Guava

Banana

Banana

Two roses

Two roses

Presence of these two roses in the green background confirms that though our brain takes most of the decisions, but heart is also able to command some decisions for it. What else can be the reason behind these solitary roses in a farm full of cash rich crop! After roaming around in the farm for some time our host invited us to a guestroom on the first floor for snacks. An almond tree surrounded the terrace and the bird’s eye view of the surrounding greenery was fantabulous.

The Almond

The Almond Tree

Bird's eye view of the farm

Bird’s eye view of the farm

The farm had a rustic surrounding. As we came out, kids discovered that there was a baby hillock waiting to be conquered. We believe in the tag line of Surf “दाग अच्छे हैं” (stains are good) , so there was no question of stopping them. The kids were very agile and moved over it swiftly and effortlessly. Once on top the smiles lit their faces. As in life, going up is always easier than coming down. At such time kids needed experienced helping hands to bring them down unhurt.

Hillock

The baby Hillock

Our generous host gifted us a sack full of amla and lemons.

The souveneir

The souveneir

On that day, I was wearing a cargo and by the time we returned all the six pockets of it were full of lemons and amla – Rachit’s proud souvenir of his visit to that farm!

Sidenotes: After our visit to that farm, I am quite confident that agro-tourism could bring next revolution in tourism industry. I dream that if we could develop model villages, villages that are clean, green and safe – along with proper sanitation and comfortable places to stay. They may lure a large number of tourists. That extra income may help in stopping exodus of villagers to the slums of metros.
I am sure; I would like to go to such villages, away from the mundane humdrum of city life, to relax, to roam in the countryside enjoying the sights of various fruits and vegetables grown there and, if possible, to get food cooked from fresh vegetables hand-picked by us.

31 Comments

  • sudhir says:

    I envy you, Manish. This is too good and so refreshing. Made me feel rejuvenated just by reading through your post.

    Yes, agro-tourism is picking up, especially in Maharashtra- some place around Pune and also Malegaon, Baramati.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Well written.

    Descriptive and thought-provoking.

    Roses in Rajasthan? Thought whole of Rajasthan is an extension of Jaisalmer :-)

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Its a pleasure Sudhir that you liked it :)

    Its so nice to hear that the concept is picking up. My wife, Jaishree is also telling me for quite sometime that we will go to Maharashtra at the places when we can see strawberry in its ripening period. She also told that even in Punjab the concept is picking up, though in big farms :)

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Thanks Patrick :)

    Your comment reminded me of two interesting incidents:

    * My brother was telling me that someone from south were travelling with lots of water (a few 20 ltrs can) stored with them. So that they don’t find any drinking water problem.

    * I convinced one of my colleagues in my company that the only mode of transport in my native town (Udaipur) are camels and its utmost necessary for everyone to have camels :)

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    I think, Manish probably already knows that “Explore Rural India” ia campaign which is being run by the Tourism Department, and their ad,s are appearing regulaily in the papers.Moreover, the Haryana government has developed number of villages which have become quite popular with folks looking for real India, including the NRI visitors.I think if the owners of Private Farms, like the one lucky Manish visited, should open up for public—make extra money along with cash crops plusshowcase the countryside. Well done,Sir.(Ram, I am back)

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Jatinderji, Its so nice to see back in action (commenting :)

    I was not aware about the “Explore Rural India campaign”. So I am so happy about it. Its definitely a very nice initiative.

    Jatinderji, can you please tell us more about villages in Haryana that can be visited. I am eager as Haryana is so near to us :), moreover Haryana is largely devoid of any major tourist destination.

    Thanks for the comment and your valuable inputs.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Excellent write up and some astounding pictures. The ease with which you take the readers to the minute details is simply awe inspiring.

    As Sudhir has said – the Agro Tourism is fast picking up. As a matter of fact, places like Chaubatia, close to Ranikhet are famous for Agro Tourism. Besides walking through the large apple and plum orchards, huge lush green lawns, the visitors can also buy these products at the Tourism Department Shop, at fairly reasonable prices. I have seen a few such farms near Manali also. And why forget the Vineyards of Nasik, where the leading wineries take the visitors for Wine Tours regularly.

    Incidentally, now I know where to get the Amla in the off season !! I am a regular user of Amla.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information with us.

    My grateful thanks to Respectable Sethi Sahib for blessing us after an interval.

  • Nice one Manish and good to know about Rajsamand.

    -Upanshu

  • What an Idea Sir……Agro-Tourism……

    This Idea can Change India…….Really…..do work on it…Thanx for Idea.

  • bikerdude says:

    Dear Manish,

    Another wondeful post and a bunch of beautifully clicked snaps… truly a treat to read and view.

    On a side note, I have been approached by loads of people living overseas to venture into Theme based rides… Agro Theme, Religious Theme, Architectural rides and so on so forth… With these reminders, the thought of Agro Tourism can be given a boost no doubt.

    Have loads of thoughts about them.. good and bad but thats for later on pondering… right now, lemme enjoy the post once more :-)

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Manish Khamesra is a big draw here, getting comments after comments. From Jatinder (he hates it when I call him Jatiner-ji or Jatinder-sir) to Ram to dude to Sudhir to ones like me.

    You know what, it takes a different kind of thinking to come out with this story, its not a common travel story. But its definitely a one which makes you think beyond the usual go-and-have-fun kinda thing.

    Back home, things are not very good. But once the connections become better (when East-West corridor of NHAI gets done), development starts to get noticed (Nitish is doing good but it would take another 10 years to come anywhere close to places like Gujrat or Maha) and infra (power at least) gets better then may be I can re-model my home and invite tourists.

    I can probably throw a Janakpur (Ma Sita’s Mayaka) day trip as well, which is just across the border (border is 2 hours away by road, once there is a road). Infact we used to have a ‘well’ right in our house for all water needs (including drinking) which later got abandoned because we moved to the hand-pump. There are at least 10 varieties of fruit trees (Mangao, Banana, Lemons of different kinds, Litchi, False, Bel, Jamun etc etc), numerous flowers, seasonal vegetables and some grains. There is a captive natural pool where you can do some angling or just while away your time doing nothing.

    Anyway, before my comment (it not already) gets longer than the story, I would close.

    Great story MK.

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    mANISH, THERE ARE TWO SITES YOU SHOULD LOOK TO KNOW MORE ABOUT rURAL/fARM TOURISM TO GET MORE INFO.
    ONE–go to expresshotelier&caterer.com and IndiaMike.com.you can also see the rural places available on the EXPLORE RURAL INDIA site. There is a place, about 50km from Delhi,SURJIVAN FARM,close to Classic Golf Resort,50 acres(back to nature) which makes you chase chicken in the fields etc. .I havnt been there yet, but will do shortly. Hope its more than enogh info.
    I do hate being addressed either “respected sir” “sethiji” etc. as Nandan has rightky discovered—-otherwise I would disappear away from this young adventure site

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I have been to Surjivan Farm, for a day-team-building-corporate-event. Its a nice place away from city hustle-bustle but we didn’t discover much there, may be it has changed over time. Also, the group was busy within itself over corporate games and all.

  • Celine says:

    A lovely personal narration of your agro-tour Manish. Thank you for sharing.

    AFAIK, the photo of the beautiful flower at your BIL’s house is commonly called Shankha Pushpa. The English name is Butterfly pea flower.:)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Ram Uncle,

    Thanks for your comment. The first ever place where I got the feel of Agro-tourism was in-fact Chaubatia in Ranikhet, though when we went there, it was off season and trees were without even a single leaf on it. It was hard to imagine that these trees could be laden with Apples. At that time we decided that we will go there when the apple season would be there, but that trip is pending till date :)

    Vienyards of Nasik: Its again an old wish to be fullfilled. Has anyone been there ? Do they look like swiss vineyards ?

  • manish khamesra says:

    Upanshu,

    Its my pleasure to know that you liked to know about Rajsamand :)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Kostubh,

    Thanks for your comment. You are in field, where you can always think of implementing it. I am sure that those people would be very appreciative of it. I have heard of few of my friends staying around Corbett in Mango Orchards and that was one of the highlight of their stay :)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Manishdude,

    Thanks for your sweet praise. I really got impressed with the ideas that you have in mind. I must say that this idea of theme based tours is simply fantastic. Work over it and I feel that it has all ingredients to be a succesful idea. May be one thing at a time, but it can be an excellant idea for your future expansions.

    Thanks again Manish.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Nandan,

    I must accept that its quite humbling to see your post viewed-liked by so many and also that they have cared to leave their encouraging comments. I am thankful to all for their love and care :)

    Yours is an extremely beautiful comment, as it invokes nostalgia too. Bihar and UP are big states and I always feel that their progress will serve as growth pulse of India and hence its always pleasant to hear about things getting improved in these states.

    As I read your comment, my mouth watered as I thought about all the fruits and eyes too started to imagine beautiful sights of fruits, vegetables & rustic village life.

    Thanks for it.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Hello Jatinder,

    I remember that when I joined my company, we had this culture of calling everyone with their first name. My boss and a senior lady noticed that I keep on moving saying Sir and madam esp to them.

    My Boss called me and explained that we have this culture of calling one by the first name. I remember listening him silently or muttering inaudible, yes sir. Then I went in my cubicle and practiced calling their name a little loudly, so that I feel comfortable in doing so. I had go with the similar practice now :)

    Thanks for the information you provided. I will surely explore it. I remember that when I went to Chokhi Dhani with my French friend Philippe Monnier and explained him that they have tried to recreate a modal village. His comment was that the only less interesting part is that its re-created one :)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Celine,

    Thanks for the information about the flower. I was expecting it from Ram uncle. I will update it and good part is that now I know it too :)

    It was nice decoding AFAIK. I am not so well verse in net codings. Even I learnt LOL from ghumakkars only. LOL ?

    Thanks for your appreciation :)

  • lakshmi says:

    I completely agree with you that agro tourism and plantation tourism is definitely going to be the next revolution..Its definitely going to also create better infrastructure in rural India and create employment as well..as long as they maintain the balance :)

    The post is so refeshing and amazing :)

  • manish khamesra says:

    Lakshmi,

    I wish that our thought on the subject comes true :)

    As ever thanks for the praise. Its always a pleasure to get a comment from you.

  • tanya.s says:

    dats a greeaaat story manish!!
    visiting farms n villages is something i always look forward to. m an absolute city citizen with sadly no roots in b’ful n unexplored parts of india…:(
    well i can go on n on about how much i adore the life n beauty of rural india…

    all in all, its a gleaming post…makes me wish if i could own a farm like that and escape there at every opportunity!!

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Thanks Tanya for the comment and appreciation. I am also in similar boat like that of you – Born and brought up in a very small township and now earning my bread in NCR.

    It may be costly to own such a big farm, but not so staying in such farms. Recently we had a trip to Sasan Gir (the village adjacent to famous Gir forest) and stayed there for two nights in Anil Farms. I would be writing about it in few days (well it may be months too :( Its again a beautiful place to stay.

    Well, after reading your comment again, I felt that its refreshing even to dream of owning such big farm.

    Thanks again Tanya.

  • tanya says:

    he he ….lets just keep dreaming….they might just come true …;)))

  • rajsamand says:

    nice wrote sir, visit our site to know more abt rajsamand.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Thank you Rajsamand. I did visit your blog and I would like to applaud you for the commendable work you have done there.

    Please keep it up :)

  • Sanjeev Singhal says:

    Dear Manish,
    I am greatfull of your efforts to introduce such facts of life to rejunavate.
    Myself is holding a small farm near greater noida and developing Organic farming technics by my own.
    I am a tree lover and could do anything for them.
    If you would like to make a trip my farm also, I welcomes you.
    I also intresting in collecting specific species at my farm.
    Please share with me if you know anything.
    regards,
    Sanjeev Singhal

    • Thanks Sanjeev for your comment and kind invitation to your farm. I am glad to know about your love for trees and organic farming.

      About specific species or in-fact farming, my knowledge is very less.

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