Spice Plantations in Goa
When you hear about India, you immediately think of a variety of fragrant spices, the pleasant, warm climate makes it possible to grow them in plantations.
Many years ago, spices were considered worth their weight in gold, and expeditions were often sent out to collect them. By that time, India was fully engaged in the cultivation of spices. That is why today this country is considered the chief producer and exporter of aromatic herbs. More than 150 countries use spices produced in India. I think that says a lot.
Where you can find spice plantations
Goa has some of the largest plantations where spice herbs are grown. Tours are constantly organized there, in which tourists will be told how the plants are grown, dried, and ground.
The largest number of plantations is located near the town of Ponda, which is located 40 kilometers from Panaji.
Not the most pleasant fact is the proximity to an industrial area, where just over the scale of harmful substances. However, as it turned out, this does not greatly affect the quality of raw materials.
It is easier to buy a tour at a travel agency. A nice bonus will be a visit to several different plantations. Such an offer is very advantageous, because you do not have to waste time looking for it, and will come out much cheaper. You can also get to one of the plantations by cab or bike.
The Most Famous Spice Plantations
All the plantations can be divided into two groups. The first group includes places where you can go only during the day, the second group includes plantations where you can rent a room and stay overnight.
It is located near the settlement of Khandepar. The entire farm is a few terraces, the lower of which is adjacent to the river Mandovi. Here for tourists opened a restaurant and built several cottages, where you can rent a room. If you want to explore the entire area, you can take a boat and raft on the river, or take a hike. On Pascoal, the main crops grown are cardamom, cashews, black pepper, cloves, and nutmeg.
This place is over 200 years old. Savoy Spice Plantation is a family business that is famous for its quality spices.
The main advantage of the farm was the minimum use of mechanical labor, the workers prefer to do all the work by hand. The plantation is located near the town of Savoy and the Zuari River. Vacationers who wish to stay overnight can rent a room and spend here more time than the standard tour itinerary. A lot of things are grown here, such as grapefruit, mangoes, pineapples, nutmeg, cardamom, and more. The plantation is also famous for its medicinal plants.
This is the most easily accessible plantation for tourists and vacationers. It is located ten kilometers from Pond. From there it is very easy to get to the entrance by bus or bike. The plantation is considered unique because only here grows vanilla, which is considered a capricious plant that requires special care. There are also areca nuts, papaya, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and so on.
This plantation is considered the most photogenic of the others. There is a beautiful lake next to it, near which vacationers love to take pictures. The forest bordering the plantation is home to 75 different species of birds, which can also be photographed. Despite its proximity to the city of Ponda, it is difficult to get to the farm.
Cost of visiting the plantations
The cost of a plantation tour is made up of several components. Firstly, it is the fare to the farm, secondly, the entrance fee, and thirdly, additional services.
Admission for tourists about 500 rupees, the price also includes lunch and symbolic gifts. Elephant rides and bathing with the elephants are paid separately – 600 rupees.
Elephants on the plantation
Many of the plantations in Goa have their own elephants. They are kept here only for the tourists. The most important tourist attraction is bathing the elephant. The cost of this pleasure will vary depending on the popularity of the plantation. The second most popular was riding an elephant. The cost is set individually, it all depends on how you will negotiate. Not all tourists like this kind of entertainment, but there are outright fans.
Sahakari Spice Farm in Goa
Sahakari Spice Farm is one of Goa’s spice plantations, an eco-centre and a popular tourist attraction located in the Ponda area in the central part of the state.
The plantation has a dedicated, landscaped area for guided tours. During a guided walk through the area, one can get an overview of some of the theoretical and practical aspects of modern farming in Goa, see how cloves and peppers, curry, turmeric, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg, and cinnamon are grown. Many of the spices are sold right there and can be tasted before you buy them.
The program also includes shows and entertainment: traditional folk dances (Fugdi, Jagor and Dhalo); master class palm climbing from the farm workers; bathing with elephants. The average duration of the tour is 2.5 hours.
Due to its proximity to a major population center and the picturesque nature of its area, Sahakari Plantation is loved by tourists and is the most popular in the state of Goa.
History of the plantation
Since ancient times to this day, India has been the world leader in the production and export of most of the famous spices. Sahakari spice farm is one of the most extensive active farms, founded in 1979, when it consisted of only a small plot of land of about 4.5 hectares and a huge space of about 55 hectares, which was occupied by wild and impenetrable forest. Fruit trees, spices, and medicinal herbs were planted on the property.
Land development and cultivation on the plantation was done through a combination of traditional methods and new modern scientific technology.
Sahakari Plantation in Goa has the most interesting and intense tour program. At the entrance, tourists are greeted by women dressed in traditional Indian clothing, they place a wreath of fresh flowers around each visitor’s neck and paint a bindi with red paint.
A nice feature is that the price of the entrance ticket, which in 2019 was about 400 rupees (when ordering a tour in travel companies everything will already be included in the total price of the tour), includes lunch. The local restaurant offers a fairly large selection of national dishes (numerous rice dishes, vegetable stews, tortillas), as well as fruit and soft drinks, including real Indian tea with oriental sweets.
Then the tour of the plantation itself takes place. The guide leads the group through the different areas of the farm, showing and telling how different plants are grown, from which spices and oils are then made, as well as many tropical fruits. While walking around the plantation it will also be interesting to watch the bright tropical butterflies, which gather in flocks around some of the plants.
It is worth noting that the plantation has many guides with knowledge of Russian language: as representatives of Russia, and local Indians who have learned the language over the years of working with tourists (guided tours with a Russian-speaking guide costs 400 rupees per person).
Features of the Sahakari plantation and some of its plants
Sahakari plantation is sometimes called the plantation of the five spices, as the main crops grown here are: cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, and ginger. Besides, tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya, durian, sour and sweet limes and spices such as pepper, basil and cinnamon grow here.
Rare plants are planted here between coconut palms, which provide them with moisture and natural shade. In such comfortable conditions, exotic spices feel great. All products grown on the plantation are considered organic, because pure natural water is used for watering the plants, and for the soil – organic fertilizers from the dung of local cows. Harvesting is done by hand due to the impassability of the local jungle for machinery.
The bananas known to everyone are actually the fruits of a long-lived grass, appearing as early as one year after planting. After harvesting, the grass is cut off at the root so that a new sprout begins to sprout from there. Wide green leaves of the grass are used to make disposable dishes, dried leaves are used for cigarette papers and the fibers are used to make rope.
Lemongrass is an East Asian people’s favorite.
Lemongrass or lemon grass is a quick-growing herb with abundant inflorescence. It has many health benefits including antiseptic, regenerative, tonic and analgesic, for which it is highly valued here. In addition, lemongrass is also used as a condiment for hot dishes, salads and drinks.
The “bread for the poor”.
Because of its low price, it is called jackfruit, which has the same appearance as durian, but is much bigger than the durian. A ripe fruit, which takes up to 8 months to ripen, can weigh about 35 kilograms. The unripe fruit is often cooked as a vegetable – roasted or stewed, while the ripe one is used to make alcoholic drinks, fruit desserts and ice cream. Jackfruit has more carbohydrates (starch) than bread, about 40%.
Cinnamon trees are not to be confused with others because of its pleasant muffin smell. Cinnamon is derived from the dried ground bark of these trees. In addition to its wonderful taste properties, this spice is notable for normalizing the gastrointestinal tract.
A guest from Mexico
One of the most expensive spices in India came from here: vanilla. Because vanilla’s natural pollinators, hummingbirds and stingless bees, are not found here, each plant is pollinated by hand by plantation workers. Because of the labor and length of cultivation (vanilla blooms once every seven years, and the fruit takes about nine months to ripen) Sahakari – the only spice plantation in Goa and one of the few in India, where grows vanilla.
Wrapping up the tour
At the end of the walk through the plantation area, you will be brought back and everyone will be offered an interesting procedure – pouring a ladle of cold water infused with neem oil on your back behind your scruff. According to tourists, it is really refreshing and invigorating.
Visitors are also taken to the spice store at the farm, where you can buy fresh spices (and of course, smell and taste them), various oils, potions according to recipes from Ayurveda and souvenirs. But keep in mind that the prices here are higher than in the market or in the Ayurvedic pharmacy. If you wish you can also get a consultation here from a local Ayurveda specialist who will recommend you what natural remedies to use for what purpose, for example in diet or for treatment of some diseases.
Another product on the plantation that attracts tourists is the local moonshine called Fenny (Fenny, Feni) which is made from the fruit of the cashew tree. At Sahakari Plantation you will be shown the moonshiner and told about the production of fenny and you will be offered to taste this local drink and evaluate its quality.
Visitors will also be treated to traditional Indian dancing and a demonstration on how to pick fruit from the tops of tall palm trees. Indian man with just a ball of string on his feet, in a few seconds climbs up to 20-meter palm tree, then jumps from the top of the palm to the neighboring palm and comes down. By the way, all the brave ones are invited to try this stunt again.
Swimming with an elephant on a plantation
Another attraction and a point of special pride at Sahakari Plantation is the family of well-groomed and friendly elephants, consisting of a male, a female and a cub.
In addition to the traditional Goa and Indian elephant rides (which you can do here surrounded by real jungle), this spice plantation also offers activities such as bathing with an elephant and washing the elephant.
There is a picturesque and clear stream flowing through the jungle at Sahakari where the bathing takes place. They will help you climb on the back of this huge animal, after which you will have a shower straight from the trunk. Those who wish can also wash the elephant, which means rubbing it with a piece of coconut.
It is worth noting that for the comfort of visitors there are all conditions: a gentle descent to the river, showers, where you can rinse after a stay in the stream, as well as a special bridge over the river – a convenient place to take pictures of the amazing action.
The price for these water activities, as well as for the elephant ride varies depending on the season, so it is better to clarify it directly at the plantation.
Sahakari Spice Farm – Google Maps
How to get to Sahakari Spice Farm in Goa
Sahakari plantation is located 2 kilometers from Ponda and 32 kilometers from Panaji, the capital of Goa. Tourists usually visit this place by purchasing one of the Goa tour packages which already include a transfer.
But you can also get there on your own: there are always many buses from Panaji to Ponda. The nearest stop to the plantation is called Curti, but it’s not far to walk from downtown Ponda.
For those planning to come here in their own vehicles, there is a sign on Route 4A from Panaji to Ponda that tells you where to turn off to the plantation. For cars and two-wheelers, there is ample parking in front of the farm entrance.
You can also reach Sahakari Plantation comfortably and quickly by using the services of local cab drivers.