Vilappilsala has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent times, and Kolar reminds you of gold. But did you know that they are also lands of golden mangoes? Step into the 5th Honey and Mango Fest at Kanakakkunnu to savour mango varieties from Vilappilsala and the Kolar Gold Fields.
The festival has a stall selling Kotturkonam mangoes cultivated in Vilappilsala, and the vendors are quick to tell you that they are no different from the ones grown elsewhere in the district.
“The dumping of waste has been a boon to mango farmers as it has added to the fertility of the soil, though it is a bane in all terms to the residents,’’ says Satish Kumar, a vendor at M M K Brother Mango Stall, Chalai.
These are said to be high on demand, not at all surprising to the sellers, who speak in a thousand tongues about the variety. ‘’Kotturkonam mangoes go by different names, such as Vellayani ‘maanga’ and Vilappilsala ‘maanga’. They’ re all the same though,’’ he says.
The mango fest turned eight days old on Monday, but customers have not shown any aversion to mangoes from Vilappilsala. Kotturkonam is fibrous, rich in proteins and bitter-free. Its peel is quite thick when compared to other mangoes and hence cannot be used in curry, according to the vendors. There’s also an interesting myth related to the mango. It is believed to be the favourite among fruits of Vellayani Devi and is offered at the ‘Vellayani Maholsavam’ taking place for 63 days once in 12 years.
Rubbing shoulders with the Vilappilsala mangoes are the ‘Kolar Gold Mangoes’ from the Kolar Gold Fields town in Bangarpet Taluk of Karnataka. The region is also known for agriculture, dairy, sericulture and floriculture - the land of silk, milk and gold.
The mango farmers from Kolar have much to say about the sudden spurt in sales in the past three days which has helped sell 3.5 tonnes of mangoes out of 4.5 tonnes.
“The extension of the dates till May 14 is the solution to sell out the remaining mangoes,’’ says Komal Reddy, one of the proprietors. Piles of mangoes in the stall on the first day of sales have vanished leaving only a few more of Alphonso and Sindhura. Mallika, Malgoa, Himampasand, Dasheri, Kalapadi and Raspuri were the other varieties in the stall.
However, the number of stalls from Kolar has been on the decline at this annual fest. There were 15 stalls at the third edition in 2011-2012, but just eight were put up in 2012-13. This year, the number has dwindled to just one. There are reasons, says Komal Reddy. ‘’The production is good and so are sales, but a major issue that we face in Kolar is water shortage. In the past five years, bore-wells have run dry even at depths of 1,500 feet,’’ he said.
Mango farmers in Kolar today depend on the ‘water lobby’ paying Rs 700 per tank of water. Komal Reddy purchases 60 tanks of water a year for irrigating his 52 acres of mango farms.