India is often referred to as a “Land of Spices” and rightly so, given the spice-enriched flavors that one encounters across the length and breadth of our country. It is not unusual to find visitors to India carrying back myriad packets of these colorful and fragrant spices. However, the best way to appreciate these better is to see them in their natural habitat. A Spice Plantation tour in Goa does just that.
If you are wondering why I am recommending an educative tour, well, let me assure you that the Spice plantation tour is far more that. It is a perfect way to appreciate nature, experience an eco-friendly way of life and have some fun. I discovered this at theTropical Spice Plantation in Goa and having done so, here are my 5 reasons that make the Spice Plantation tour as one of the most recommended things to do in Goa.
1) Indian hospitality in a natural way
When I walked into the Spice Plantation, I felt like a royalty. Every visitor is greeted with a garland at the Spice Plantation and then led to an open area where they are offered a glass of Jasmine tea. I personally loved the Jasmine tea, even more owing to the slight chill in the monsoon air. The entire atmosphere with its open space, greenery and its earthy interiors felt like a scene straight from the ancient hermitage in the forests of India. I guess, when royalty visited these hermits and took shelter in the rain, they were greeted and received in the same manner.
The hospitality was not just limited to the reception of guests but was evident throughout the tour – be it their manner of serving food or guiding one through the Spice plantation itself. It was raining when we visited the spice plantation and the staff managed to line up umbrellas for the guests, ensuring that the spice tour happened in batches so that none got wet. The entire staff at the Spice Plantation was not just polite and warm but ensured that one gets experiences Indian hospitality in the most eco-friendly manner. That itself, is a reason why I loved this tour.
2) Spices in their natural home
As a regular user of spices. I have always taken their powdered and dry forms for granted. One grouse that I always had are the high prices of these spices. After doing this Spice Plantation Tour, I find myself looking at the spices differently. The 30 – 45 minutes spice tour was just amazing as we not just learnt about the various spice plants but saw them growing there. Our spice plantation guide -Pallavi was quite knowledgeable about these plants and effortlessly led us through the plantation, pointing out the various spices, their care and special properties and the special uses it was put to. What made it even more interesting was the fact that none of those hard to remember botanical names were thrown at us but only practical and informative facts were laid out to us with examples.
Pallavi was a treasure trove of information, telling us about the various spices that were used as herbal cures for several ailments and the reason why certain spices were more expensive than the others. Here are some interesting things that I learnt –
Vanilla, one of the most loved flavors, was not just difficult to grow but even more difficult to pollinate. All the pollination was artificially. Once the pod is ready, it lasts only for a day and needs to be plucked out asap. The beans take 4 – 5 months to dry and after that, around 100g of Vanilla seeds give you only around 1 litre of extract. No wonder it is the 2nd most expensive spice in the world.
The Queen of Spices – Cardamom, grew in two different manners – one where the pods sprouted at the top and the other where they sprouted near the base of the plant.
Roots of a Palm tree
You can count the rings of a palm to know its age. 4 rings = 1 year of the plant. As it grows older and older, its roots start sprouting from above the ground. And how colorful they are 🙂
We also, saw the famous Feni making apparatus. Besides a local alcohol, in small doses, it is used to aid digestion. Interesting right?
From why Saffron was the most expensive to what made Nutmeg unique, I knew it all after the tour. By the end of the tour, I bet you will too, know it all.
3) Flora & Fauna at the Spice Plantation
Small butterflies, ducks and cute little birds playing hide and seek. The plantation is full of these small delights. Punctuating its green cover are small multicolored flowers. The whole atmosphere has a forest like feel. A refreshing change from our concrete jungle.
4) Photographer’s Paradise
We happen to visit the spice plantation in monsoon. With the raindrops running on the fresh green leaves and small cascades of water gushing down the roof, the entire place was a delight to photograph. Even if it was not raining, the wooden bridge leading to the main hut, the small stream running through the property and the natural beauty of the spice plantation are good enough reason for photographers to spend some time here.
5) Food & Shopping at the Spice Plantation
The fresh taste of spices is evident in the food served at the Spice Plantation in Goa. A buffet lunch spread with food laid out in earthen ware made in the authentic Goan style is enough to get you salivating. The food is made fresh in the kitchens and is quite simple and nice. I personally, loved the homely taste of food here.
You can buy the fresh spices, natural oils, containers and cutlery made out of coir and other natural material. I found the prices quite reasonable and the quality pretty good. I picked up some containers made of coir for myself and with that, said good bye to the Tropical Spice Plantation in Goa.
For me, this tour was an invigorating and refreshing experience. It felt close to nature and was quite unique. It definitely adds up to my discovery of “Goa beyond beaches“. If you are in Goa, the spice plantation is definitely one of the must visit places of Goa. Comment in and share your experience if you have already been there. If not. when are you planning your trip? Waiting to hear from you.
- Goa as I have mentioned earlier here, is easy to get to. My experience was based on the Tropicana Spice Plantation tour and you can reach the same by hiring a car in Goa. It is around 29 kms from Panjim in Ponda
- There are several tour operators that offer you a tour of the spice plantation. They include a tour of Old Goa along with this tour and also, take care of your conveyance.
- Tropical Spice Plantation is just one of the many spice plantations in Goa. The official website of Tropicana Spice Plantation can be found here. For the other recommendations, please refer to this page of the Goa Tourism website.
- The best season to visit these plantations is between July to March. The monsoons in July and August really enhance the beauty of these plantations.
- I would recommend a lunch at this place. Hence try to reach the plantations around mid morning.
- The price of the tour with lunch at Tropical Spice plantation is INR 400 per adult.
- Flat and comfortable, anti-slip shoes are a must, as some of the areas of the spice plantation can be slippery.
P.S: I was invited by Goa Tourism to experience this tour of the Spice Plantation.