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Ganjam's Efforts To Resurrect Legacy Figs Pay Off

Chintu Das
Chintu Das

Many Millenials are unaware that Ganjam in Srirangapatna used to be home to enormous fig (Anjeer) estates that supplied fruits for the royals and the wealthy. The figs were so popular that the fruits, which had a particular scarlet colour and flavour, could compete with Australian figs and Pune figs. Ganjam Anjeer or Ganjam Anjur were their names. 

Ganjam figs are no longer grown here, and the fruit has become extinct. The Horticulture Department, in an attempt to revive the fig farms, is nurturing saplings and distributing over 1,000 to 2,000 saplings per year, and it has its own nursery of 80 plants that are being nurtured to bring back the lost glory, according to Shashikumar, Assistant Director of Mandya Horticulture Department. 

In reality, the Department is grafting the ancient stems into fresh ones to preserve the authenticity of the delicious type that was cultivated in Ganjam years ago, he noted. 

Around 100 years ago, the former Mysore royal family granted land to around 150 households in Ganjam, near the famous Nimishamba Temple in Srirangapatna, to produce these figs. 

While Tipu Sultan encouraged peasants to plant Ganjam Anjeer, Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail, who were blown away by the flavour of Ganjam figs, gave fig agriculture a boost by granting lands, and the farmers had enormous fig estates. 

Until 1960, It Was Abundant 

Fruits were farmed until around 1960, when they went extinct due to a shortage of water, encroachment, and encouragement. Families who possessed lands built structures for their dependents throughout time, while others went on to farm different crops. Some people left the land desolate. 

Australian and Pune figs, as well as the peculiar Ganjam figs, are three prominent types of figs. The Wadiyars allegedly provided subsidies and gifted five guntas of land to each of the 150 growers, according to history. They also took attempts to irrigate the fig farms with Cauvery water, and traces of rusty pipelines and pumps used to pump water to the fig fields can still be discovered in Ganjam. 

Dignitaries Were Served 

The figs from these 150 farms were first delivered to Mysore Palace, where the royal family took satisfaction in presenting them to British officials and international guests. Of course, they are now fascinating recollections. 

Ganjam figs were soon exported, and the fruit was in high demand. They even organised a cooperative association to export the fruit and provided Mysore Palace with a large portion of the dried fruits. On Ganjam's Gumbaz Road, there was a marketing centre dedicated just to Ganjam Anjeer. The structure is now decrepit. 

The Ganjam Lakkaiah Tale 

After neatly wrapping the luscious Ganjam figs and also dry ones in cane baskets, Ganjam  Lakkaiah used to transport them to Mysore Palace in a horse carriage. He used to make sure that no fruit was harmed. His family members used to convey the figs to the royal family after Lakkaiah. 

Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail chose Lakkaiah and entrusted him with the task of delivering the fruits to the Palace, and the Dewan had no other choice. The Dewan was near to Lakkaiah. "When the fruits turned reddish in colour, my grandpa used to preserve them from birds and transfer them securely to the Palace after arranging them in bamboo baskets," Lakkaiah's grandson Dhananjay told. 

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