Apricot flower festival in Ladakh, hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists are participating

Ladakh Tourism Department: To attract tourists quickly in Ladakh, the tourism department has organized the Apricot Blossom Festival. It marks the beginning of spring in the cold desert region. Apricot blossom festival locally known as Chuli Mendok. This year it has been held from 8 to 21 April.

In Kargil the festival is organized in Darchik, Garkone, Sanjak, Hardas and Karkichu while in Leh the festival is organized in Dha, Biama, Turtuk and Tyakshi villages. This year, the Kargil Tourism Department organized the Apricot Blossom Festival at Chanigund village near Kargil. It has the largest concentration of apricot trees but the Apricot Flower Festival was started by the tourism department at the beginning of the month at Garkon village in the Aryan belt of Kargil in which hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists participated.

12-15 different varieties of apricots 

Tourists usually start coming to Ladakh from May when the weather is warm in the cold region. At this time of the year, the Garkan Valley, Kargil and Drass look like a bride and groom adorned with apricot fruits and tourists get delighted by the fragrance of apricot flowers. Apricot is the main cash crop for the people of Kargil and Drass and many people earn their livelihood from apricot cultivation. There are 12-15 different varieties of apricots and such festivals will help in marketing of apricots to the local people. 

Khubani which is known as Chulli/Halman in Ladakhi. It was introduced to the arid region of Ladakh a century ago by Chinese traders via the Silk Route passing through the region. Now in the 21st century, this fruit has become an integral part of Ladakh’s culture, heritage and economy. The uniquely tolerant and highly stable plant of apricot has embraced the sandy soil of the cold desert and has made it one of the largest producers of apricot in India.

To achieve better results in the tourism sector…

After abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K state into Ladakh and J&K Union Territory, the local administration in Ladakh Union Territory is working hard to get better results in tourism sector. By organizing festivals, highlighting local traditions, culture and agro-economy, the department aims to bring more tourists and revenue to the impoverished area.

LG Ladakh (Brigadier Retd) BD Mishra was the chief guest at the festival which was attended by other officials from both the local administration and the Indian Army, in which a large number of local people and tourists were also present. Where the purpose of this festival was to promote apricot. At the same time, a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of this region was seen in this festival. 

Cultural program was also organized

Tourists and local people had a party with traditional food items as stalls of traditional food items were also put up and a cultural program was also organized. It featured traditional song and dance troupes from different blocks of Kargil, the main attraction of which was the Drokhapa dance by the ancient Aryan tribes of Garkun, Da and Hanu villages. LG Ladakh (Brigadier Retd) BD Mishra lauded the Ladakh tourism department for organizing the festival and directed the department to organize bigger and more festivals from next year to woo more and more tourists.

BD Mishra said, "I was mesmerized by the rich and exotic culture and traditions of the Ladakh region today but I am asking the tourism department to organize the festival on a larger scale next year." The Ladakh Tourism Department had launched the 2023 Apricot Fruit Festival at Girkon village in the Aryan Belt on a trial basis. But after good response from tourists and local people, a big celebration was organized at Kargil Headquarters. Domestic and foreign tourists enjoyed the fair a lot. 

A tourist from Tamil Nadu said, "I have been traveling in Ladakh for the past three years and am mesmerized by the mountains but I am thrilled to be here for the Apricot Festival and see all these flowers." The tourism department’s celebration was a great success as LG Ladakh announced that the export of local apricots to the international market under the brand name Halman will be started soon.

Local apricot farmer Mohammad Ali Kachu said, "Till now our apricots were limited to Kashmir and Jammu. Now after the formation of UT, our products are also going to international markets and all this is happening because of festivals like Apricot festival." Local villagers who were part of the festival say that this event is an effort of the Tourism Department UT Ladakh to celebrate this festival every year with the aim of attracting more and more tourists to the region. Tourist operators and other stakeholders will also be taken into confidence to extend the duration of the tourist season in the coming years. The Chuli Mendok Festival is an attempt to put Ladakh’s apricot villages on the tourism map and the locals hope that with the help of media and social media, the event will reach the world which will attract more tourists next season.

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