Following the mango harvest?
I once heard a tale told by a Bengali swami on another swami, one of whose brahmacarya students had gone missing for many months before he reappeared and presented himself. Ordinarily this infraction would have been met with harsh discipline, but in this case the brahmacarya explained that he had been following the mango harvest from place to place. The swami, himself a devotee of mangoes, immediately forgave his student and welcomed him back into the fold. My question: is this possible? Could one follow the mango harvest from place to place (and presumably variety to variety) for months at a time?
Great question - in theory this is possible!
There are as many opinions on mangos as there are types. I'll base my thoughts on my own biases, which tilt heavily in favor of the Ratnagiri and southern Gujarat crops.
If you first pick some varieties that you are interested in, it would help. The Alfonso is the undisputed king and Ratnagiri is the place to do this one. Usually, the Valsad alfonsos follow. Ratnagiri Payris are also in season around the same time as the Alfonsos.
The Gujarat crop, including late Valsad alfonsos and the crop from Amalsad and then the Langdo and Rajapuri crop round off the season.
I would imagine this would run from April to late June and take you from the south Konkan coast to central Gujarat. En route, you can spend time at the giant fruit markets in Mumbai to gather extra intelligence about growers, regions, the status of the crop in each place and best places to check out the local crop.
Be warned however, that the best fruit is not necessarily available where it is grown, unless you can actually convince farmers to take you through the orchards themselves. Once picked, the best fruit is tagged and shipped off to the big cities, or abroad where it fetches premium prices.
Good luck, and do report back
I love the Alphonso too and always believed it was the best mango. But there are a few other mangoes which are terrific. The Kesar from Junagadh, Imam Basanti from Coimbatore and Dussehri from North India all deserve extremely honorable mentions. Just as good as the Alphonso.
And they are all harvested at different times, so following them would be an option. You probably could not find any organized tour to do this though.