The City and the Fruit: If one has grown up or lived in India, the first destination that comes to mind at the mention of guavas is unmistakably- Allahabad. Allahabad is a city located in the state of Uttar Pradesh in North India and apart from its guava’s is also famous as India’s second oldest city. The city is the administrative headquarters’ of the Allahabad district and is one of the fastest growing cities in India and is also popular as one of four sites of the Kumb Mela- A mass Hindu pilgrimage. Allahabad is also an important city in Hindu scriptures as it is situated at the Triveni Sangam- the merging of three holy rivers; the Ganga, Yamuna and the ancient Sarasvati.
Today the city of Allahabad is home to many government offices, both central and state government and also houses the famous Allahabad High Court, the fourth oldest and one of the biggest courts in India. The Government of India has selected Allahabad as one the mission cities for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission with the goals of improving urban infrastructure, efficient governance and basic services to urban citizens.
The Guava: The guava is often referred to as the “Backyard” fruit or the “Super fruit” for it is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, folic acid and dietary minerals, potassium, copper and manganese. Low on calories the guava has four times more vitamin C than an orange. In India guavas are enjoyed raw, cut into quarters and served with a dash of salt or pepper or rock salt that adds a bit of zinc to the taste. High levels of pectin in the fruit ensure that the guava can be used to make candies, jellies, jams, marmalades and other preserves.
In India the best verities of guavas come from Allahabad, including the Allahabad Safeda variety which is large in size, round in shape and the skin is smooth and yellowish- white in colour. The flesh is white, soft and tasty and is high in Vitamin C. The Allahabad Sukhna is pink in colour with deep pink skin. The fruit is sweet and a few seeds and is slightly depressed on both ends. The Arka Mridula on the other hand has white pulp and a few soft seeds.
Cultivation and Irrigation: Guavas grow successfully in tropical and sun-tropical regions, around 1500 meters above mean sea level. Best quality guavas grow where low night temperatures (10 degree Celsius) prevail during winters. An annual rainfall of 100 centimeters is sufficient during the rainy season, though rainfall during harvest deteriorates the quality of the fruit. Guavas are cultivated on a variety of soils, such as heavy clay to very light sandy soils, though the best quality guavas are produced in river basins.
Land for guava cultivation is prepared in the summer season by laughing, harrowing, leveling and removing weeds. The plants is then vegatatively propagated by budding, inarching and air layering. Planting is usually done during the rainy season of June-July using methods of layering and seedlings. Guavas are usually grown under rain fed conditions. During winter season irrigation is required every 20-25 days and in summer months irrigation is provided at in interval of 10-15 days by the ring method. Training of young plants is essential to build a strong framework and to avoid weak crotches. Fruiting trees are pruned to check overcrowding in the orchard.
How to Get to Allahabad: Being a popular city in north India, Allahabad is very well connected to the rest of the country by air, rail and road. Here are a few ways to reach Allahabad:
• Rail: Allahabad has its own railway station and is well connected to cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Patna, Guwahati, Lucknow and Kanpur among others.
• Road: National Highways 2 and 27 connect Allahabad to the rest of the country and the city has an excellent road network.
• Air: Allahabad is served by the Allahabad Airport (Bamrauli Air Force Base) and is served by Air India regional. The other airports in the vicinity are at Varanasi (147 kms from Allahabad) and Lucknow (210 kms from Allahabad).
Trivia on Guavas:
• The guava is a native of South America.
• Crushed guava leaves are aromatic and are used in air fresheners.
• Guavas have 4 times more vitamin C as an orange.
• Wood from the guava tree is popularly used to make decorative items.