Our first encounter with cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms – or the Sakura, as the Japanese call it – are something all travel bloggers have on their bucket list. We do too. Although we are yet to go to Japan, we had an unlikely yet beautiful encounter with cherry blossoms on our trip to the quaint village Kanatal in Northern India.

siddharthandshruti cherry blossom

We were driving to Kanatal from the Dehradun airport after an early flight. Half asleep in the car and dreaming of the cozy bed awaiting us in the resort, we suddenly saw delicate pink blossoms out of the window. Could it or could it not be? Cherry blossom trees? Was our mind playing tricks? Nope, there they were, in plain sight. Jogging down memory lane, we remembered a story by Ruskin Bond called ‘The Cherry Tree’.

The Ruskin Bond connection:

This wonderful short story by Ruskin Bond tells the tale of young Rakesh and his experience with planting a cherry tree. In the course of the story, the tree gets eaten by a goat and cut by a woman while cutting grass, enduring hardships but living a full life. It thus echoes the Japanese philosophy that the sakura embodies both beauty and mortality.

The winding road around Dehradun and Mussoorie is flanked by these charming trees. Most people drive past them nonchalantly and locals think you are crazy when you get down from your car and start posing with the tree. Cherry blossoms range from white to pink. The ones we encountered were almost white with a pinkish tint.

Unlike the rest of the world, cherry blossoms bloom here around November instead of March-April. As of 2016, Shillong in the North East of India has started an autumn cherry blossom festival. It was the first of its kind in India. Although we really wanted to visit, our 2016 was fully planned. Meeting these delicate beauties made up for the regret we felt at missing it.

Our first encounter with the delicate cherry blossoms in India! Click To Tweet

Cherry blossoms around the world:

Here are some glimpses of cherry blossom trees in different parts of the world. If you are planning a trip around March-April, you can like the Japanese, have picnics below the transient and exquisite cherry blossom. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view.

Japan

Photo Credit: Yong Thye

Sweden

Photo Credit: Eugenijus Radlinskas

Spain

Photo Credit: Mr Hicks46

New York

Photo Credit: calamity_sal

Germany

Photo Credit: susanfunk

Brazil

Photo Credit: Ana Elisa Ribeiro

Have you been to any of these cherry blossom festivals? We would love to know what your experience was like. Let us know in the comments below.

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40 Comments

  1. February 16, 2017 / 12:45 AM

    This is a wonderful post ……. Cherry Blossoms is one of the most photographed!! Now whenever one drives to Kanatal from the Dehradun will remember this 🙂 Me too !

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:48 PM

      Thanks! Remember that cherry blossoms mostly grow in the lower foothills so you’ll see most of them during the steep climb towards Chamba and very few in Kanatal itself.

  2. February 16, 2017 / 1:37 AM

    They are one of the best in Washington DC…I was lucky to see them last year (wrote a post on that too)!

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:43 PM

      Great! We’d love to read your blog post if you could drop a link in the comments.

  3. February 17, 2017 / 10:08 PM

    Beautiful pictures! I have never been to Japan but I have always heard that it is beautiful and your photographs are a testament to that. Well done. Nice post!

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:49 PM

      Thanks Raymond. Glad you liked the post. 🙂

  4. February 17, 2017 / 10:41 PM

    Oh it’s so beautiful! My university (in SC, USA) had lots of cherry trees in their botanical gardens and I always loved seeing them bloom in Spring. How fun to see photos of them all over the world!

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:55 PM

      We would love to visit South Carolina sometime as we’ve heard the Fall colors there are some of the best in the world. We’ll keep an eye out for cherry trees as well. Glad you enjoyed our post.

  5. February 17, 2017 / 11:13 PM

    I would have never pictured cherry blossom in India, but there you go! I’ve yet to see them in Japan either, but remember seeing them in Copenhagen and it really was quite the sight!

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:52 PM

      We were really surprised too; quite an unexpected (and delightful) encounter.

  6. February 18, 2017 / 12:08 AM

    I love cherry blossoms. I’ve seen them in Washington DC. I’d love to visit Sweden and Japan during cherry blossom time.

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:51 PM

      We’d love to see the gardens in DC sometime too. Do send us a link to your blog post in case you write about your trips.

  7. February 18, 2017 / 8:38 PM

    Your photos are so pretty! I love cherry blossoms! I grew up in Washington, D.C. and I loved going to the cherry blossom festival every year.

    • Siddharth Prabhu
      February 18, 2017 / 10:52 PM

      Thanks Julia. 🙂

  8. February 19, 2017 / 1:52 AM

    Ahhh, these make me so excited for spring to finally be here! There were cherry trees lining the street where I grew up that have gradually gotten sick and been removed, but I absolutely loved seeing them every year. I planted some in the front yard of my own house last year and can’t wait for them to bloom!

  9. February 19, 2017 / 4:06 AM

    One of our favorite trees ever! We are so excited for cherry blossom season here in Portland, Or. We would love to see them in India one day. Gorgeous pics! 🙂

  10. February 19, 2017 / 3:32 PM

    Awww, cherry blossoms are so pretty! I love that the locals were staring at you snapping pics Haha! Shameless selfies all the way

  11. Jenn | By Land and Sea
    February 19, 2017 / 8:54 PM

    Aren’t cherry blossoms so pretty and fragrant? I love them! Beautiful photos!!

  12. February 19, 2017 / 10:50 PM

    Stunning ! I have always wanted to plan a trip around seeing these !

  13. February 20, 2017 / 2:48 AM

    Isn’t it all just lovely? I would love to visit there that time of year and experience this. Reminds me of Washington DC when they bloom there. Your pictures captured the beauty for sure!

  14. February 20, 2017 / 7:42 PM

    Japan’s cherry blossoms are so well documented I’ve not even thought of them being elsewhere. Good to know!

  15. February 20, 2017 / 10:33 PM

    How beautiful to encounter your first cherry blossoms. How interesting that they bloom in India in Nov verses March-April. Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

  16. February 21, 2017 / 4:11 AM

    Really beautiful and so cool that you got to see this in India. I didn’t even realise in how many places you can see the cherry blossoms! Awesome experience and thanks for sharing – would love to see this for myself one day

  17. February 21, 2017 / 4:33 AM

    We would have never pictured blossoms trees in India! Thanks for sharing a wonderful post with us. We also like the fact that you told us the tale about the blossom trees and we loved that you put pictures about how blossoms trees look different in different parts of the world! Keep up the great work! Patrick and Cécile from Travel4lifeblog:)

  18. February 21, 2017 / 8:16 AM

    These flowers are so small but so so beautiful! I love that you’ve dedicated a whole blog post to them as well!

  19. February 21, 2017 / 11:52 AM

    look at those beautiful flowers , i just the picture and I am already in love with them :* You have written an amazing tale here! Nicely studied by you guys 🙂

  20. February 21, 2017 / 1:48 PM

    What a magic experience and I love your photos! I’ve seen the cherry blossoms in bloom at Washington DC and in Central Park, New York but would love to see them in Japan one day!

  21. February 21, 2017 / 3:38 PM

    Oh lucky you! I love cherry clossoms so much I got ’em tattooed on me. 🙂 Would love to one day see them in real life.

    xoxo,

    Tahna
    UrbanPonder.com

  22. February 21, 2017 / 3:39 PM

    Wow! So far the most useful travel article of 2017 so far. An alternative to the tourist fiesta of the Japanese Sakura. Plus, plus: one more beautiful reason to push for that India trip! 🙂

  23. February 21, 2017 / 10:13 PM

    This post is so sweet, I love it!! I live in Maryland and we have the BEST cherry blossom trees in the spring. I could wander around outside for days looking at them, they are so lovely. Thanks for sharing this story and putting a smile on my face! Enjoy your travels 🙂

  24. February 22, 2017 / 4:21 AM

    Great photos! I have yet to see cherry blossoms in person but I plan to someday. The locals just don’t appreciate them as much because it’s normal to them. I would have gotten out the car to pose with them too!

  25. February 23, 2017 / 3:24 AM

    Beautiful and I bet smelled wonderful! #feetdotravel

  26. February 23, 2017 / 9:10 AM

    Very very beautiful pictures. It’s a great moment to see the cherry blossoms, especially in many parts of the world. Thank you for your sharing. Really love this <3

  27. February 24, 2017 / 1:34 AM

    Amazingly beautiful!! We always had a cherry blossom tree in our garden when I was growing up so they will definitely always have a special place in my heart <3 beautiful post!

  28. February 24, 2017 / 5:58 AM

    What an interesting place. From the pictures you took, I would have never of guessed its North India.

  29. February 26, 2017 / 3:26 PM

    The post is beautifully written. Truly cherry blossoms are in every travellers bucket list. The Ruskin bond analogy is beautiful. And thank you for mentioning the Shillong cherry blossom festival. Would love to visit it.

  30. February 27, 2017 / 3:42 PM

    Cherry blossom is just so stunning and yes, it’s on my bucket list!! Forgive my ignorance though, but I did not know that they were in other places around the world and not just Japan – how silly of me! I guess I just haven’t read a post such as this that showed other places to visit so thank you so much for providing me with this information, I really appreciate it and have pinned this for future reference. #feetdotravel

  31. June 27, 2017 / 7:15 PM

    Wonderful post. Truly cherry blossoms are on every traveler’s list and it is such a delight to see the full-blossomed trees. I was already planning to visit Kanatal and now your post has given me an another reason for it. Thanks for the info on Shillong’s Cherry Blossom festival too.

    • June 27, 2017 / 8:00 PM

      Thanks Suruchi. It was such a surprise for us. We would also love to visit Shillong for the cherry blossom festival next year.

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