Manali’s history wrote a new chapter with the arrival of Captain A.T. Banon of the Royal Munster Fusiliers who settled in Manali in the 1870′s. They were the pioneers of apple orchards in Manali and built the “Sunshine Orchards” which became the most revered Guest House of its time. The family has been involved in the development of Manali from its early days as a tourist destination. They have played an active role in Municipal administration and the Hotel Industry. The family also played a significant role in defending the country’s borders in the Second World War for which Col. Richard Banon, serving in the Dogra Regiment, was awarded the Vir Chakra for his striking gallantry on the Aksai Chin plateau during the Indo – Chinese war of 1962. The Banons became the epitome of the industrious Anglo-Indian community of Manali. They pioneered both, the Horticulture and Hospitality industry of the region at the time, and produced the most famous apple orchards in India, as well as guesthouses in the Kullu valley to cater to the huge growth of mountain tourism.
It was my pleasure to spend time with Henry, Juggie Banon and their daughters Mitchelle and Joana who helped me relive through their family history or should I say the history of Manali. If it wasn’t for their kindness and hospitality I wouldn’t have been able to meet and know about the Banon family. I huge thank you to Henry, Juggie and the members of the Banon family for being so accommodating and welcoming.