Meet Padmashri awardee Haji Kaleem Ullah Khan who has a profound love for mango cultivation. His 14-acre orchard in Malihabad in Uttar Pradesh is unlike any other in aroma, textures and hues
Who said farming isn’t an art? Meet artist Kaleem Ullah Khan (57) — the man who has been awarded the Padmashri, one of India’s highest civilian awards, for his unique experiment — growing over 300 varieties of mangoes of different shapes, colours and sizes all on one tree!
He hails from Malihabad (Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh), which is widely known for Dusseri variety of mangoes. But Khan didn’t stop at the one variety. From his 14-acre orchard, mangoes are boxed in crates and sold across the country and even exported to the Gulf countries.
Confidently, Khan proclaims — ‘You won’t find such fruits anywhere’.
His hope, he says, is to live on even after his death through his flourishing mango tree which he has so carefully cultivated. It’s a tree like no other — over 100 years old, and Khan started cultivating it in 1987 with the bold imagination and scientific genius.
Khan names the mangoes fondly after his family members — the heart shaped variety Asl-ul-Muqarrar, the bright red Husn-e-Ara, the Khas-ul-Khas and so on.
Popularly called the Mango Maharaja, Khan will awe you with his knowledge on mangoes. He recognizes every single variety from the way it looks and smells. For instance, he explained to Grin News the story behind Anarkali, the latest variety in his collection of mangoes,
‘Anarkali has a double skin. Orange is the first layer. But as you may a deeper stroke within, you are exposed to its second yellow coloured skin. But that’s not all — its taste adds to its exclusivity. At first it tastes like the Chausa variety of mango — but soon enough you will be filled with Chausa and Lakhnavi Dusseri mango flavours. This is because Anarkali comes from the flowers of two distinct varieties of mangoes that were crossbred.’
What’s more? Khan is also an ardent cricket fan and he recently developed a new variety named after the famous Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Every day, hundreds of prospective buyers and tourists come to visit the orchard — and Khan makes sure he attends to each of them. It’s this hospitality that sets him apart. His mangoes are so revered, that within 15 days of harvest — all his produce his sold.
‘I am angootha-thek (illiterate) but I have something to contribute to the world,’ says Khan.