South India is loved for many things – be it its rich Dravidian history, the breathtaking coasts, or its delectable cuisine! But one thing that is never associated with south India is snow. When we think of snowfall, we promptly think about Gulmarg, Nainital, and Manali. But South India isn’t always dry and humid! There’s a small village in Andhra Pradesh where you can catch a sprinkling of snow.
Wrapped in the misty haze of winter, the tiny village of Lambasingi in the Eastern Ghats of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh is a secret gem. It is drawing tourists and locals in numbers never seen before. And, it’s not just the chilly climate and scenic locales that are pulling the crowd; strawberry picking has become a big tourist attraction for the region.
The hamlet is also known as the ‘Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh’, a title it truly deserves. It is also the only place in south India that receives snowfall during winters. The village came into light after the temperature dropped down to a sub-zero level in the year 2012. However, Lambasingi never received the kind of importance it should have for being so abundantly blessed by nature. If you manage to catch Lambasingi snow, consider yourself a lucky traveler!
Located at 1,000 meters above sea level, Lambasingi in Chintapalli, tasted its first production of strawberries about ten years ago. Buoyed by good yield and profits, the farmers have increased the cultivation of strawberries in the region, since then.
The strawberry growers in Lambasingi provide the visitors a Pick-and-Pack experience at the farms. The strawberry season begins by November-end, but this year there has been a delay due to unseasonable rains and cyclones storms in October and November. Last year, some farmers had sold over 200 kg around this time, but this year they have sold over only 50 to 60 kg so far.
NV Chowdary, one of the growers in Lambasingi, said the strawberry cultivation is spread over 15 acres in and around Lambasingi. The fruit is currently being sold for Rs 500 per kg and Rs 100 per 200 gm.
“The peak harvesting season is coming up in next few weeks. We are expecting more visitors in January,” he said.
Apart from winter dawn variety of strawberries, some farmers have introduced some new varieties such as San Andreas, Murano, Nabila and a few others as there is a growing demand for bigger varieties of strawberries.
Among the new varieties, the demand is more for San Andreas for its attractive appearance and sweeter flavor. Nearly 18,000 to 20,000 saplings are raised in one acre. The plants developed using tissue culture, are priced at Rs 12 to Rs 15 each. Farmers can reap 1.5 kg to 2 kg of fruit from each plant. The farmers say that they used to invest Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh per acre of strawberry cultivation as it requires drip irrigation.