Malihabad: in the land of famous Dussehri mangoes - Hindustan Times

Malihabad: in the land of famous Dussehri mangoes

Hindustan Times | BySatarupa Paul
Jun 01, 2014 05:04 PM IST

Known for its fabled varieties of mangoes such as the Dussehri and Langda, Malihabad is also home to families who have been growing the fruit for 200 years and have amazing tales to tell about their legendary ancestors and orchards.

The narrow, freshly tarred road glistens in the afternoon heat. The grandeur of Old Lucknow is behind us. The magnificent Bara Imambara, the imposing Rumi Darwaza, and the splendour of numerous mosques give way to run-down houses and empty sabzi mandis, ghostly echoes of the early morning frenzy. Up ahead, beyond a roundabout, the road disappears into the shade of rows of mango trees that border it on both sides. The sweet smell of the raw fruit is thick in the air. This is the renowned mango belt of Malihabad, just 25 km away from the capital of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Lucknow.

The Malihabad memories

Writer Satarupa Paul on why reporting on Malihabad and its famous mangoes will remain special for her in times to come.

Satarupa Paul ate 60 Tunday kebabs in five days while she was in Lucknow. We're not joking (left); The children of Malihabad are now big fans of our photojournalist Raj K Raj, the 'camera uncle'.

I hate mangoes.

Yes, go on, unleash the WTFs and the incredulous stares. Fact remains, I cannot find any joy in that yellow, gooey, pulpy fruit that has millions swooning over it every summer in India. So when my editor suggested that I go to the 'Mango Capital of India' Malihabad for this week's cover story, I cringed inwardly.

But it only took half of her next sentence to put my excitement on overdrive. "It's near Lucknow and …" Oh, those luscious kebabs, and the beautiful architecture of those grand buildings from the times of the Nawabs, and its old-world romance, and oh those luscious kebabs! So, with my mind orgasm-ing at the prospect of all the foodgasms I was about to have in Lucknow, I began my research on Malihabad.

And the more I found out about it, the more I began to appreciate my editor's enthusiasm. Malihabad is more than just a place which produces a major chunk of India's mangoes. It is seeped in tradition, rich in tehzeeb, replete with legends and fables, and has families who have been growing mangoes for more than a hundred years.

I set out to seek their stories and I came back with much more - the warmth of being welcomed into their houses, the overwhelming feeling of being let into their pasts through family albums and old tales, and sharing in their thrill of being part of our photojournalist Raj K Raj's photographs (Raj, btw, loves mangoes!).

As for me, so infectious was the Malihabadi's love for mangoes that once I get over my withdrawal symptoms from Lucknow's Tunday kebabs, perhaps, just perhaps, I might begin liking mangoes too.

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