Spice Route..

Day 3 (Cont’d)

Was IT a dream…??? I am pinching myself …but no! It was all real! Wow…I am still feeling euphoric from our jungle adventure! And the roar of the waterfall is still resonating in my ears!

Back in the taxi, we now realize how physically taxing the whole adventure was…and the worst victim is my poor back! But I really don’t care! In fact I would want to experience many more of such Back breaking experiences.. 😉

Our next destination is a Spice plantation, and since it will be almost an hour’s drive from here, both of us pull our seats back and lie down…Aaahh.. Thank God Thank Mr. V …that we hired an Innova 🙂

After this much needed and well deserved rest, we inch closer to the spice farms. The weather is awesome! Its drizzling…I pull down the car windows and let the rain drops fall on my face…Heaven!!

We are now standing in front of the Sahakari Spice Farm. The farms are located in Curti, Ponda,the “Temple Town of Goa”. As we enter the farm, we get a traditional welcome…aka tika, and Hawaii style flower garland. Sweet! 

A volunteer on the farm guides us to a sitting area and handed a bowl of cashewnuts along with lemon grass tea. 
I don’t realize how hungry we were till I see the empty bowl. As I am trying to polishing off the few remnants of the cashews, the volunteer comes back and tells us that we can join a group that is starting out with the guided tour of the farm.

They have a very scenic campus. It’s like a designer forest. Trees, ferns…I am loving the greens here!

 We cross a bridge on a small stream and join the group.  Our guide is another volunteer on the farm. I look around to see the fellow group members…people of all ages and sizes! The guide takes us deeper into the farm.
He stops by a plant and tells us its one of the most expensive spice. He asks us to take a guess…yours truly answers correctly – It’s a cardamom plant ..10 points..yuhoo..!  
Proceeding further we get to see turmeric, coffee, lemon grass, vanilla and many more plants whose names I don’t remember! 

I am having fun getting to know about all these spices,and side by side building on my GK too.. Did you know that mace (javitri) and nutmeg (jaiphal) come from the same plant?? And that since Bay leaf (tej paat) is not readily available in south, they use the leaves of cinnamon (daalchini) plant as an alternative? And Also that Beetle nut (Supari) trees are actually so flexible that a farmer doesn’t need to get down to climb the other tree..he just bends it and jumps to the next tree… And that is the reason that these trees are planted so closely! Did someone say Tarzan..Oo-oo-ee-Eh-ooo-Eh-oooOooOooOooOoo.
Beetle Nut  trees…Hum saath saath hain
 Going further we see a distillery where they make fenny. Fenny is a very strong local brew(with a distinct pungent smell)…It is usually taken neat therefore its advisable to take small shots. God bless you, if you drink the whole bottle!!!

The guide also explained the entire process of formation of fenny. [If you want more details then go google it..no more space for madira on the blog of this teetotaler 😉 ]

Another spice that caught my attention was the mini avatar of the green chilli called Bird’s eye chilli..but don’t go by the size..one bite and boom…your mouth will experience something that’s nothing short of Hiroshima-Nagasaki! This little miss is super hottt!!!

We go around looking at many more plants, crossing some more little walkways
over a small stream running through the farm.
The best thing I like about the tour is that you get to know a lot of home remedies. There is this particular old man who seems to be extra curious about this Extra info…he is bombarding the guide, asking about the use of every spice, and how it can be used in different recipes..wow..seems like he is planning to launch his own Khana Khazana part 2! The expression on the face of guide is absolutely  priceless..as if saying that if this gentleman asks me one more recipe I will jump from this bridge!

Finally we reach the end of the tour.  Fatigue is now catching up…The guide tells us that they have a tradition of jumping into the stream after the tour. This can really relax the tensed muscle of back and neck…however during rains, and winters, when people can’t afford to do it, they just have a token ceremony. He calls one member from the group, and pours cold water from a matka down his neck …Ok..so that is the token ceremony…Well I would have preferred jumping into the steam…but anyway..i go ahead and get a shot…Aah…the water is icy cold…And u can literally feel a chill running down your spine!! But hey..it is indeed very relaxing! Mr. V’s turn next… Aaaaaaaaaah! 😀

Next we move to the dining area where we get a complimentary lunch…before starting with food…they offer small shots of fenny to everyone…Beep Beep…teetotaler alert!! The volunteer is telling me how my Goa trip can not be complete until I taste the fenny…but SORRY…This girl is extra stubborn…he gives up…lemon grass tea please!!!

There is buffet of organic food..very simple fare..there is a beverage called kokam curry..very similar to north indian kaanji..Me likes 🙂

As we finish our lunch, one volunteer hands us a small packet of various  spices grown on the farm as a souvenir…Me likes again! 🙂

Done with the spices, we now head to the Shantadurga Temple. I absolutely love the route to the temple. Very tranquil… very serene. The road runs down a hillside across dense forests… we can see palms lining the horizon…and paddy fields stretching across the landscape…Ye hariyali aur ye raasta! 🙂

We get down at the temple. There is small kund adjacent to the gate of the temple.

As we enter the premises, we see a group of old ladies sitting with their flower baskets. They are selling pooja thalis made of leaves. Funny thing is that they do all the marketing conversing in Konkani!  Nevertheless , the thalis are beautiful and we buy one. 

The temple is very different from the regular temples. It is a huge building…and there is remarkable influence of Islamic architecture, especially the main dome of the temple. But the bottomline is..its a magnificent temple!
  At the entrance of the temple, stands a lamp tower known as Deep-stambha
As we go inside, the entire set up gives me a feeling that I am standing in a Jain temple, with the Garbha-griha, a passage around it for pradakshina and even the hall for meditation! Although I am not too religious,  but just being there is making me feel very relaxed and so much at peace. After spending some time at the temple, we then head out to The Mangeshi Temple.

On our way to the temple we spot this board…

Yup…this is where out great Mangeshkar sisters originally belong to. Their father, Pt. Dinanath Mangeshkar was born in the hamlet of Mangeshi. The village is situated in the middle of lush green forests in the Priol -Ponda area.

Local women sit along the approach road to the temple selling  lovely little baskets with local flowers of various colours, and bel leaves (also called Bilva-patra).
The temple is an elegant structure made of marble, and similar to Shantadurga Temple, it also has a huge Deep-stambha at its entrance.. 
The temple has a beautiful interior, especially the statue of Lord Mangesh and some amazing chandeliers. The outer campus is also very impressive. 
We sit under the shadow of the Deep-stambha, soaking in the serenity and the spiritual energy of the place. As Master Shifu (Kung-fu Panda)would say…”Inner peace. Inner peace. Inner . . . In . . . In . . . Inner peace”. 🙂

Back from Sri Mangesh Devsthaan, we are now off to the Church of St. Francis Xavier which is located in Old Goa.

The building of the church, which is actually known as the Basilica of Bom Jesus, is very imposing. Also I notice that it is a World Heritage Monument.

As we enter the church we are asked to be very quiet as a wedding ceremony is in progress. So we decide to explore the rest of the church including the Remains of the saint, some memorabilia associated with him. Upstairs we also visit an art gallery, which has some beautiful paintings showing different stages of the saint’s life. There is also a photo exhibition going on in the gallery, depicting the history of the church. Quite an informative experience, must admit!

Back in the main part of the church,where the wedding is now over, we finally get to click some pics. 

Outside I see the  couple whose wedding we have just attended. The bride is looking ravishing in her beautiful bridal attire..Somewhere in my heart I have always wanted to dress up like that!So I can’t stop myself from clicking the happy couple, but from a distance..
Just across the road is the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. It is again a very impressive building, and we get to know that it also houses the Archaeological Museum. 
However by now, the entire day’s adventure has totally taken a toll on our strength to go further. We are dead tired..Badly need a dose of Cinkara..So we decide give the museum a miss, and head back to our hotel.

Phewwww..It has been a long long day…But what a day it has been! One of the best days in my life…there is a huge feeling of satisfaction.  We thank our driver, Aman for his contribution in making our trip such a huge success with his valuable inputs. He is very happy with the compliments. His parting gift to us..”Madam, wo dekho..ek aur church!” He has got a fair idea now about my obsession for clicking! So there I go..CLICK!

Ok..now we are back in the hotel…there is still some time to go for dinner. So we decide to take a short nap to give our feet some rest…Aaaah.nothing like a cozy bed after a hard day of work…
Jumping in.. Acchha to hum sote hain… 🙂


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nitiksh Srivastava
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:56:20

    hey geetika, another good work and i wonder why u didnt start riting earlier……spice garden never knew this existed in goa….kokam curry well tat exists and i kinda like it….feni, well another teetotaler here :)…..temples well two yrs and i didnt go to a single temple or church(except the one inside my coll) 😛

    u must hv passed by my MBA coll its on the way from old goa to panjim on the banks of mandovi…..

    Seriously u hv a lot of stamina, i m waiting for casino trip ( dont tell me u didnt go to the casino when u were in goa)



  2. trash_u
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 17:10:18

    :)i wud have spent the next day relishin in the room without going out anywhere..!
    its already been too hectic :p
    ~whts the secreet of ur enerrgy .. boofft?
    kkokaam curry sounds delicious..
    ~do they sell the spices too?? or those herb plants? can we get them frm there?
    ~tht chilli doesnt look tht harmful :p
    ~couple marriage,, was there a party too nearby? DJ?
    ~madam ek aur church.??? sigh

    thanks for the quite comprehensive coverage.. loved it?
    ~errr dnt tell me there is one more day of travel.. is there still more to goa thts left?



  3. G2
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 17:10:19

    Thanks Nitiksh..Well I wud have started writing earlier had I known I have such a loyal reader! 😉

    But I will have to disappoint u…we didn't go to a casino.. But hey.. this was surely not our last trip to Goa..so may be next time!



  4. G2
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 17:19:20

    @ Shr – Wot a bombardment of Questions!!
    -Secret of my energy..Goa ki hawa 😛
    -Yup..they do sell spices there!
    -Tht chilli-well try it out next time U r in Goa..tell me how harmful it is 😉
    -Sorry no DJ..shantipurn vivah samaroh
    -Yup–Thoda sa aur bacha hai! 😛



  5. ragu
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 18:01:56

    wat a trip !!
    plan another one as soon as the Goa episode ends..
    the new writer on the block needs some investment to keep the creative juices flowing..
    who said blogging is a cheap affair!
    P.S: Dont kill me Jeejz 🙂



  6. icpd15
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 10:54:01

    I am so proud of you Dear 🙂 For everything- winning all the battles to planning and executing such a perfect plan…..Now I CAN also go to Goa ….Of course your experience and research will be of great help!!!! One more career option for you dear…. You can easily become a writer  Hey you can wear that white Gown on your wedding Anniversary…..when you will be another exotic place…… Pratibha



  7. Priti
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 04:15:17

    Gud one Geetika, i would say this blog was very informative and you expressed it in a way anyone can relate to…i know, how graceful is Christian wedding dresses… i also love it…you can start serious writing for magazines and papers…what next u r going to explore?



  8. Hogwartsbeckons
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 07:47:44

    hey,awesome narration ya! b/w we had been to a spice garden in Munnar last year, and discovered a whole lot of information about different spices and essential oils derived from some of these plants..my all time fav spice from then on remains the star anise which gives a distinct aroma to the biryanies and pulaos..Also got some vanilla beans to make my own vanilla sugar and vanilla essence, however never got down to doing that..
    so where are you going next? thought about becoming a travel writer? u got potential sweetie..




  9. Ruchita
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 19:11:39

    Hey Geetika. No words to praise you. You are simply awesome, it look like I m reading some novel and waiting for climax :). Plan another trip, can't wait to read such more stories



  10. G2
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 16:56:30

    Thanks guys! Your words of appreciation really mean a lot! 🙂



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