Ponda (Goa), Feb 21 : Spice plantations in Goa are giving a much needed boost to the coastal state's tourism industry.
It is a well known fact that tourists get drawn to Goa because of its famed beaches. But now, the rural idyll of spice farms is also proving to be another attractive option for them.
Hidden away from the tourist hotspots, these huge spice plantations produce many of Goa's famed aromatic spices.
"This will last longer in our memory than even the beaches. It is fun to see other things than just the beach," said Maria Luis, a Swiss tourist.round four to five spice plantations located in Goa's Ponda Taluka, around 40 to 50 km from Panaji, is a favourite destination for foreign tourists every year.
"It is a very educational trip. The fact is that you are allowed to purchase spices at prices that are far cheaper than what is available in England," said Dona, a British tourist.
Apart from a variety of trees like custard apple, banana, citrus fruits and pineapples, tourists also enjoy bathing in lakes and streams after reaching and entering them on elephant backs.
They also entertain themselves by watching cuckoos, owls, hornbills and parrots by the lakeside.
Having a traditional Goan meal served on crisp banana leaves and consuming a Goan drink made from cashew apple leaves tourists quite delighted.
Many tourists are so fascinated by the plantations during their first visit that they keep coming here every year.
"We have lots of repeaters. Some visitors visit this plantation every year. We started this in 1994. Nearly 10-15 per cent are repeaters who visit this plantation every year," said Sandeep Satarkar, the owner of a pice plantation.
Black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, chillies, coriander and betel nut are the popular spices grown. Tropical fruits like star fruit, custard apples, papaya, bananas, pineapples and the citrus are also grown along the Western Ghats of Goa.
Most of the spices have curative properties, and form the backbone of traditional Indian medicine and cuisine too. By Rajiv Tengse