A drive to Ponda is a good 45 km one side trip from Dabolim. We were a group of 6 people and had rented a Toyota Innova. The road to Tropical Spice plantation was a beauty with Mandovi River on one side and the colorful Goan houses and coconut trees on the other. I am a great admirer of the Goan houses. Their architecture is inspired by the Portuguese culture - tiled roof, bright and startling exterior colors, white painted arches and pillars give these houses a unique look.
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Tropical Spice Plantation
On Friday, we went to Tropical Spice Plantation at Ponda. The cabbie charged us 3K, and we went about 20 minutes across Panjim. The plantation entrance itself is very grand with a wooden bridge amongst foliage that reminds you of soothing Eastern gardens. The 300 year old spice plantation has been changing hands and generations for 3 centuries now and is definitely a must visit. The ticket cost of 400 also includes a welcome drink, lunch, a tour and a sample of Feni. At the end of the tour, they poured a cup of water with aroma oils, down each visitor’s spine, which was very relaxing.On Saturday, we went to the beach and did para gliding. The locals charged us 600 per person and there were 5 of us. Each flight lasted about 8-10 minutes and it was a really nice experience. After that, we strolled about and went back to Prison in the evening.
Sahakari Spice Farm
Between 45 minutes or an hour out of Calangute, crossing the Mandovi River at Panaji (the capitol of Goa) we had a delightful visit at the Sahakari Spice Farm at Ponda. There was the aroma of vanilla orchid spice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and many, many more spices coming from the trees and plants grown at the farm. The most exciting part of the day is yet to come as we made our way to a nearby lake to mingle with the kings of this jungle – Goan elephants! Marvel at the wonders of nature as you watch these elephants bathe in the peaceful lake. Feed them or, better yet, join them on a refreshing swim in the lake. This is one experience not to be missed!
A completely organic garden which prohibits use of any pesticides or fertilizers, Savoi Spice Gardens are more than just a touristy spot. With a guide explaining how the history of Goa is intricately connected to its spices, a visit here is a must for anyone wanting to be more than a mainstream tourist.