Spicing it up – Organically

Tourists from all over the world have made Goa their playground, and they pour into this small land in hordes, filling thousands of hotel rooms in the peak season. A few spend weeks roaming up and down the coastline, while others fly down over the weekends. You can see them lying on the beaches soaking up Vitamin D from the sun, hopping around from one beach to another riding rented bikes, digging their spoons into fresh local seafood or just trying their luck at the casinos. You can almost hear the sighs of contentment all around.

But what can a local Goan do that would help him or her relax over a weekend? Where can we sigh in peaceful happiness? Driving out of state every now and then is not our cup of tea – it reduces the time which we’d rather give to discover new levels of susegadponn!

Behold the world of rustic spice garden weekend getaways. These have been around for some time now, but are recently becoming part of our ‘things to do’. Right from the Sahakari Plantation in Curti, Rustic Plantation in Valpoi, Savoi Plantation in Savoi Verem to Nandanvan in Opa, there are a host of these places which provide facilities to guests, ranging from day visits to overnight stays. One such spice plantation is the Tanshikar Spice Farm in Neturlim.

Run by the very humble and down-to-earth couple Chinmay and Gauri Tanshikar, this verdant place is advertised as an organic and working farm. Having settled in this village since the last five generations, they are into organic traditional spice farming for the last 50 years. The 225-year-old mud house that they live in gives a very good picture of how life must have been in that era. Surrounding the house is the peaceful plantation that yields cashews, vanilla, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, cacao, etc.

At the other end of the plantation, on a small ridge, are the rest houses. There are six individual mud houses which have their own balcony opening out to a sea of greenery. There are four houses which converge into each other to form a community space or ‘razaangan’ as is known in Konkani. And then there are two treetop rooms where you can greet the birds in the morning on your front porch! There is no air-conditioning, table fans are provided –and you don’t need even these except to beat the afternoon summer heat. There is no television to distract you and the only sounds are that of the wind blowing through the trees, the chirping of a multitude of birds and the croaking of tree and forest frogs.

On reaching here, guests are welcomed with a lemongrass tea. It takes five minutes to walk to the rooms, and that can be an adventure in itself at night, as there are no street lights. But a few LED lights help to guide you to the main area. The meals are served in an open air restaurant. The food is Goan, but slightly bland to suit the out-of-country guests, who form the bulk of the visitors. Breakfast is pav-bhaji with omelette, oats, and fresh mango pulp with fruits. Lunch and dinner consists of rice with local vegetables like raw papaya, brinjal, etc, dal, fried fish and chicken curry. The meals are filling and taste great with the farm-fresh spices. Desserts are in the form of fresh fruits or some Goan delicacies. One can order various juices or soft drinks, with beer being an option too.

The farm provides many activities. Cooking classes can be booked by those who want to learn traditional Goan vegetarian cooking. A walk through the plantation gives one an idea of what is involved in the day-to-day working, from planting and pollination to plucking. To those who are interested, a visit inside their old house can teach a few things about traditional living.

The farm is right next to the famous Budbudyam Tollem, a temple water tank where bubbles rise continuously from its depths. The water from this temple pond, which comes from a host of underground perennial springs, is used at the farm. As the Netravali Wild Life Sanctuary is right next door, this place is a good base to explore the surroundings. The Western Ghats are a mecca for bird watchers, and the Tanshikars arrange camps regularly. There are also excursions to the nearby waterfalls like the Saavri falls.

The sale of fresh farm products is a big hit with everyone. Some of the rather different things you can buy here include organic coffee, honey from their own apiculture, bee pollens, coconut sugar and cocoa powder, along with a host of other produce. A long shelf near the main area exhibits a few vintage house articles which may be of interest to the out-of-town guests. But the thing that will astound one and all are the couple of ancient wooden pillars that have been salvaged from a nearby temple that was renovated recently. Kudos to Chinmay Tanshikar for saving these priceless pieces of history, and giving them a home here.

The air is fresh, and spirits are high. Life gets very slow and there is a lot of time to do things that make us happy. Go with your friends or by yourself. Time becomes immaterial and you do not seem to care at all. Welcome to another side of Goa, waiting for you to embrace it!

Serves – Solitude for the restless mind

How to get there –50 kms from Margao towards Curchorem. Take the turn from Tilamol to Rivona, and continue to Neturlim. It is around 500 metres from Neturlim High School.

Contact- Chinmay: 9422184114, 832-2608358

Timings –24 hour package

Prices – Rs 1500 package per person, which includes stay, all the meals, and an excursion to the Saavri waterfalls

Parking – ample uncovered parking in front of the farm.

April 7th, 2017

Posted In: food

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