- India is blessed with such a rich mineral soil. The same land can produce Apple and Saffron in the North to Strawberries and Gooseberries in West to Cinnamon and Coffee in south to Metals like Aluminium and Iron in East.
- It was the last day of our trip to Kerala. We had packed our bags and set to board the train back to Pune. We were already late but Jacob, our cab driver suggested we take the longer route and highly recommended we see the spice garden before we leave Munnar.
- We were hesitant as we didn’t want to miss our train. So we decided to stop for 15 minutes only. We parked our car and we stepped out with least expectations. There was a honey moon couple and the lady was almost sleepy as if she was literally dragged out of the bed. Her hair was untidy, her eyes red and was wearing bathroom slippers. Seeing her, my enthusiasm dropped to almost zero. But then suddenly his husband jumped from somewhere, super active and ready to rock and roll. He was a chef from Mumbai and was on an adrenaline high to start DE Tour.
- A women wearing white saree with golden border, green blouse, a sweet smile on her face and jasmine flowers clipped to her hair came out of the dense garden. She introduced herself and asked us to follow her. For the first time in my life, I was looking at an entire new genre of plants and trees and flowers and fruits.I didn’t know what to expect and it completely took me for a surprise. The whole garden smelled like a spice factory but not pungent. It was nice, soft, aromatic and above all fresh.
- I might have seen 100 different kind of spice and medicinal plants. The tour started with Coffee Shrubs, fresh green pods of coffee which would 1st dry and then shall be removed to be divided into two parts the coco and the bean. The beans are still lingering in my nose which is very different to the actual coffee we get in commercial market.
- The green peppers hanging in bunches in small groups to a big tree came as a pleasant fact. Till that day I had known black peppers only and had heard about white peppers.
Green Pepper Tree
- My next encounter was green cardamom which were small bushes and looked like some wild plant. The vegetation bore small green fruits which would be removed later and dehydrated.
- Next in queue was all-spice powder, a walnut shaped fruit which was a real miracle to me. It smelled little bit of every spice – cardamom, bay leaf, pepper, maze, nutmeg etc. Of I did see all of them individually as well. There were turmeric bushes, the bushes which ward off snakes, trees that bore jackfruit, the tree from which the bark is scrapped to form cinnamon sticks, some medicinal plants and BHADRAKASHM from which Bhadrakash Mala is made, lemon grass, pineapple and many many more which my memory is not able to recall.
- And then when I looked at my watch, we had spent nearly 1 hour in the garden. Time flew by and we were all flabbergasted by what we had seen in the last 60 minutes. We were 4 of us taking the tour and the lady who was half asleep was almost fully awake by now. The chef was on cloud 9, scribbling something with pencil on a small notepad.
- We bought some fresh organic turmeric powder and clove oil ,produce from the same garden, quickly made the payment, thanked them and rushed to catch our train. The driver drove fast to drop us at the station and we still had 30 minutes for the train to arrive. We were content that the trip had come to an safe end and in a pretty way. The best was saved for the last. Oh not yet, the train arrived, we were running towards north to find our coach when my husband got a call on his cell that he has been selected for the interview he had given a week back. The trip had now came to a real Happy End. Kerala is lucky for us or may be the Aromatic Spice Garden in God’s Own Country.