Saffron has a variety of names—Zafran, Kang, Kesar—with its flowers being a symbol of freshness and purity. First cultivated in Greece, today saffron is grown commercially in India, Spain, and Iran. Saffron has been grown on so-called 'karewas' (plateau-like lacustrine deposits) in the Kashmir valley for hundreds of years.
In the agriculture of India, this activity is better known as "Golden Zest." The saffron growing here is a traditional art with around 14,102 ac (5,707 ha) of land dedicated to its cultivation. The annual production of saffron in India is about 35,000 lbs (16,000 kg), the major part of which is harvested in Jammu and Kashmir. Saffron harvesting season in Kashmir runs in late October-early November.
One of the best destinations to start your purple hunt is Pampore, nicknamed Saffron Town of Kashmir. This town is located at about 9.3 mi (15 km) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Pampore and neighboring regions generate an average of about 4,700 lbs (2,100 kg) of saffron annually. The local saffron farmers are typically friendly; visitors can freely roam the saffron fields. A trip from Srinagar to Pampore would take about a half-hour, and a few hours would be enough to enjoy the saffron experience.
The flowers grow like a gentle purple carpet and are plucked in late October and early November. During harvesting or plucking of saffron flowers, the weather has to be mild, not hot. In India, the saffron is used as a coloring and flavoring agent in milk, as well as a seasoning ingredient in meat, mayonnaise, and cheese.
When is the best time to visit Kashmir for the saffron harvest?
In late October to early November, Kashmir experiences the saffron harvesting season, which is the best time to visit for the saffron harvest. Saffron flowers produce purple carpets that are a delight to witness during this season. The temperature for the saffron crop to bloom adequately must be mild during these months. The picking of saffron flowers is also done during this time frame. Visitors can enjoy the saffron harvest season by planning their trip during this period. Show more
Where is a good location to witness the saffron harvest in Kashmir?
Pampore is one of the ideal sites to observe and experience the saffron harvest in Kashmir. Srinagar's summer capital is at a distance of 15 km from this town, which is home to the traditional saffron farmers and their fields. Visitors can stroll around the saffron fields, and the farmers in the region are generally friendly, adding to the overall experience. Pampore plays host to an average of about 4,700 pounds of saffron yearly, and visitors can reach here from Srinagar in around 30 minutes. Show more
What is the annual production rate of saffron in India?
Jammu and Kashmir are the primary regions in India where saffron cultivation occurs with a land area of 14,102 acres dedicated to the crop. India produces around 35,000 lbs of saffron yearly, which is considered of premium quality and is prized globally. The saffron harvest season runs from late October-early November in Kashmir and is an event that tourist visitors should witness. Kishtwar and Himachal Pradesh are the other regions that produce saffron in lesser quantities. Show more
How is saffron traditionally used in Indian cuisine?
Saffron has multiple uses in Indian cuisine, like providing color and flavor to sweets and desserts. Adding saffron to milk is a common practice that is thought to improve digestion and provide health benefits. In meat or rice dishes, saffron is often used as a seasoning ingredient. Saffron has been used in Indian cuisine for centuries and is still popular today in contemporary dishes, sauces, cheeses and mayonnaise. Show more
What is the significance of mild weather during the saffron harvest?
Saffron only thrives in mild weather and cannot withstand hot conditions. During sunny weather conditions, the saffron quality can deteriorate, reducing the overall crop's value. The ideal temperature for saffron blooming and harvesting is one that is neither too hot nor too cold. The saffron harvesting season runs from late October-early November when the temperature in Kashmir is mild. This weather is best suited for saffron cultivation and ensures that the flowers bloom adequately, providing the best quality crop. Show more