Thanedar, a tiny hamlet NE if Narkanda, is the epicenter of the apple-farming revolution in India.
View of Paramjyoti Mandir on the way to Harmony Hall
There are no idols in this temple. There is a hawan kund and a painting of ‘Krishna and Arjuna’ in the inner sanctum.
The temple is made of gray stone and Burma teak.
The walls have been embellished with verses from the Gita. Hence this temple is locally known as Gita Temple.
Verses from the Gita
Savita Aur Gita
Taking a break on the Porch
Samuel Stokes, who came to India on a spiritual quest, ended up providing financial freedom to the locals by changing the way apple farming was done in Himchal Pradesh.
Vote for Madame Stokes!
Many of his descendants have now moved back to the US. Madame Stokes, one of the descendants who stayed back, is an active Congress politician.
From the school playground, near the bazaar, a path leads up to Harmony Hall (Stokes Residence).
Path leading to Harmony Hall
The Harmony Hall, built by Stokes in 1912, has an unique architecture with elements from the local pahadi architecture mixed with those from the West. It was named after his ancestral home in New Jersey.
Deserted building next to Harmony Hall – It looked like an abandoned school.
View of Banjara Orchard Retreat from Barobag
On most days, Thakur Saheb, the amiable host of Banjara’s Orchard Retreat (Thanedar), takes his guests on a nature walk through the Saraoga Forest.
On the way to Saroga Forest
Background: Vaibhav, Mahima, and Thakur Saheb
This walk is highly recommended to anyone visiting Thanedar since he helps you identify the local flora and when things get too “botany”, Thakur Saheb keeps the cheer up with anecdotes from his hospitality career.
Bordeaux mixture (blue in color) is a mix of copper sulphate and hydrated lime used as a fungicide in vineyards and apple orchards. It is used to control fungi infestations.
Retro Apple Tree – Tree wounds are covered with the Bordeaux Mix
Pollinating varieties in Apples are sour in taste and as a result not popular in India (We like it sweet!). Hence to reduce the need for pollinating varieties, local farmers hang bottles of pollinating variety twigs immersed in water amongst the sweet (non-pollinating) varieties.
Himachali Jugad to reduce the number of pollinating varieties on the farm
Free range sheeps grazing away in the morning sun
Ireland’s National Flower
During hail storms, apple trees are covered with nets to prevent excessive damage to the fruits.
View of Harmony Hall with the apple orchards covered with nets
Spruce Trees are large trees, distinguished by their whorled branches and conical forms.
Pines are coniferous trees. Regular Pines have needles (leaves) in bundles of three. Blue Pines have theirs in bundles of five.
View of the Sutlej River
Holly leaves are used for making Xmas wreaths. The berries are highly toxic and a dose of 20 could be fatal.
Texas Himalaya – apparently these can cure certain forms of cancer
After effects of last year’s fire