South India Adventure :: A Day of Spice Gardens, Tea Plantations, and Coffee Processing in Kumily

in travel •  7 months ago

This was my favorite day traveling through India. I woke up in Green View Homestay in Kumily, the town that caters to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary with bison, sambar, wild boar, langur, elephants, and tigers. The surrounding area is known for its cardamom and tea plantations. I had a whole day of a spice farm/tea plantation/coffee plantation tour. I booked the tour through Ramesh of Thekkady Tourist Guide’s Association (phone 9447383583). I paid 2500 INR for the whole day (it would've been cheaper per person if I had one or two travel companions).

My tuktuk driver/guide picked me up from my homestay at 8am and we headed to Green Park Spice Plantation for a spice garden tour. I am a studying herbalists and grow a lot of herbs myself, so this was a pretty exciting trip for me. I got to see plants that I’ve used in herbal creations and cooking but I haven’t been able to grow myself due to the climate. The tour guide met me and a Swedish couple and began a one hour tour of the grounds. He showed us a nutmeg tree, a cinnamon tree, cardamon plants, vanilla bean vines, allspice, cloves, pepper vines, and more. It was an organic farm, using techniques that I use on my farm. He pointed to tobacco plants and neem trees, saying that they used the both as natural pesticides.

Every minute our guide would move onto a new plant and list all of the health benefits of the plant. Mimosa is good for diabetes, bryophyllum for incest bites, mace for cholesterol, beetle leaf for anti-poison, and so on. Beetle nut is used as a stimulant and it used to be the main cash crop of the region. Now one of the main crops is cardamom. He told us that cardamom can be harvested up to 7 times a year, and one woman can harvest 20 kilos per day (only women harvest the cardamom). That is a ton of cardamom. My homestay was actually next to a large cardamom auction house. Our guide pointed to banana trees and told us that there are more than 300 varieties of banana in India. The had a great shop at the end of the tour where you can buy whole spices fresh from their plantation.

Next, we headed over to a tea plantation. This part of the day was my favorite. The tea plantations cover the hills around Kumily, and hiking to the top offers incredible views. I think this part of the tour is supposed to be a lot shorter than what I made it to be. All I wanted to do was spend an hour or so running around the tea plantation paths. My driver laughed at me and came along. At the very top of the hill we found some porcupine quills. I was grinning the whole time, touching the camila sinensus plants that originated from my ancestral land, China. Afterwards we headed to a tea factory only to find it closed. It was Independence Day and the workers were on holiday.

After lunch, we headed over to a coffee farm where I saw some biodiversity at work. The coffee plants were planted underneath Australian silky oak, which provided shade and erosion control. Pepper vines also made their way up the oak trees. I saw a man high up in a tree with a sack on his back harvesting the peppers one by one. Next, we drove to the coffee processing office in town. It consisted of a few rooms where two men were roasting and grinding the coffee beans. They had two kinds, arabica and robusta, which I bought to take home.

Our next stop was an incredible look out on the mountainside. Kumily is situated on the Western Ghats, which divides the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. We took the tuktuk up a bumpy dirt road and reached our destination. I was amazed and horrified at the same time. Amazed at the views…and horrified by the steep and deadly cliff drop that was in front of me. In the photo below I’m standing on a rock, which I had to hop onto, and if I stepped forward off the rock I probably would’ve been vulture food below.

Our last stop of the day was at Elephant Junction. This was a pretty difficult part of the day for me. It was included as part of the whole day tour and definitely would not have been my first pick. There are so many elephants that are tortured and treated horribly in the name of tourism. I asked my driver about the treatment of these elephants, and he smiled and said that they were treated great. Every day a park ranger from the wildlife sanctuary visits to make sure that the elephants are healthy and well-treated. Part of the tour was a 20 minute elephant ride. I was amaze by the beautiful animals. They were huge! I waited my turn and soon I was on the back of an elephant and a trainer was leading the elephant through the surrounding cardamom plantation trails. The elephants name was Lakshmi. I was not feeling great about the experience, since these elephants are ridden for the whole day and my trainer had to keep yelling at the elephant to continue moving. After a while, I realized it was kind of like pony rides at a festival. The difference being that I’m a lot more used to the idea of domesticated horses rather than domesticated elephants. After the ride, I said thanks to Lakshmi as she set off with someone else on her back.

Overall, I had an unforgettable day. From spice gardens to rolling tea hills to fresh coffee to my first elephant encounter. I went to sleep dreaming of spices as the smell of cardamom drifted through my room.

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This reminds me of my visit to the tea gardens also, amazing views and glad you enjoyed your visit to India

Kerala is a god own country. I STAY HERE...

One of the really amazing things about India is that despite it's large population you would be able to find perfectly preserved Flora (for thousands of years) in not so remote locations. I am always surprised to see lack information (or not as much of it) on the internet.
@anwenbaumeister - Really appreciate you posting this stuff. Thanks

wow ... very cute on the elephant

an incredible adventure. I like this

Interesting to read your journey story @anwenbaumeister. I have been twice in India and still missing to go again and again. I have ever visited Andaman island, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and also New Delhi.

I love also the culinary. It is almost same like Acehnese food

for incest bites

I don't think this is what you meant, but nonetheless, it gave me a good laugh this morning. ;D

What an incredible experience! I would have really enjoyed the spice plantation. I never knew that nutmeg grew inside of an avocado looking food!

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saw that as well and was good for a chuckle!

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Haha Glad I'm not the only one, I was beginning to look like that jerk that points out mistakes...but I'm not, I promise. Lol!

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Cool.... i must go there too and see all this :)

Great travel story and amazing snaps! Stunning! India is known for diversity in nature, languages and calamitic conditions. Glad to know you enjoyed your travel to my country.

lovely photography... travel is life.

nice post my friend

cool post. i didnt know how raw coffee looks like ..
i will follow you. looks like you will post interesting stuff.
please check the post of one friend https://steemit.com/travel/@elly-fly/pamukkale-s-terraces she has some nice photos as well

Wow you really got me into the story.. First of all, what is tuktuk? Haha! Sounded really funny.
About medicinal herbs, it's amazing how many benefits we have from or mother nature. I am lucky enough to live in a country where you can find medicinal herbs all over the place..

You got me wondering when you said that there are 300 varieties of bananas. That's a cool fact I didn't know...

Anyway thanks for sharing you story it's truly amazing!

Cheers, Luka.

Very nice post ...Spice plant and rid of elephant is incredible 😃

Hi....hi.....I love coffee very much and we have a coffee farm here..I am waiting for you in Aceh, Indonesia. Wish you all the best.

You should be grateful to be able to visit various places. however, it will be a loss, when to get there but not learn to dance.

Yoi know what i say?

Our area is also developing pepper and nutmeg, but our area is famous as coffee producer 😂

Wow!!!!! You reminded me of India all over again as I was there quite a few times for my treatment. Been to Kumily too ! Thank you for sharing about your trip , have tons of fun, and by the way, I want to say a huge thank to you for supporting my posts!! Thank you, Huge Hugs, and stay beautiful!

a pleasant trip to the tea garden and spices. If there is an offer there we are happy to receive. Hehehe

Sounds like you had alot of fun on your trip. Yes those high cliffs are really scary when your travelling along those steep roads on a tuktuk. What a great adventure :D

Special day! The way you describe we feel like we be with you. In my house we consume cardamom from time to time when we make Chai or special breads. It is very aromatic!

Nice post friend...

Did you taste Biryani ??
I hope you wouldnt have missed it there in India :)

awesome post! I really enjoyed reading it :)
greets from germany

Thanks for upvoting my post

WOW! So nice pictures and impressions!!!

@anwenbaumeister, you look happy. Maybe your trip is great. I want to respond to some things about your photos and stories.

  1. In my place there is also a nutmeg. we call it the "pala"
  2. Pepper is also there. we mention it as "lada"
    What I read, nutmeg and pepper grow well in coastal areas, at a height of about 500 meters above sea level.
  3. Elephant, also in my place. his name is sumatra elephant or gajah sumatra. called sumatra elephant because this elephant only live in the island of sumatra.

Hopefully I will see your happy photo on another edition.
godbless for you

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Wow. Excellent photo thanks friend

Hi, I like your story and photo. Thanks for good shared your story.

I love this post. You should add it to @steemitworldmap . I buy all these spices in plastic bags and glass bottles from the supermarket. Now when I pick up my cardamon I have a whole story of where it comes from. I will think of the women in the fields harvesting it and give thanks for them.

I hope one day you travel to my place for a cup of coffee in the middle of coffee plantation.

Want to upvote this so hard but 15 days old....good god so beautiful.

welcome to our Asia dear, I hope you will explore the continent

Such a lovely blog post! The pictures of you in the tea plantations are really amazing :) I used to love going to these similar tea plantations in Kenya when I was younger haha!

Thank you for liking my last post by the way, I really appreciate your support and I look forwards to being inspired by your blogs :)

I totally understand where you are coming from in regards to the elephant rides. I have traveled in many countries and whenever there is some activity like that, I am always very unsure if I should participate or not. Some times I do and some times I don't. Either way I do feel very remorseful for the animals who have no choice. Yes, elephants are beautiful, wonderful animals, Especially when they are in the wild and free. Thank you for your lovely post.

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Hi good morning @anwenbaumeister. I read your story That is nice ,I love traveling too. All the plant what you have been seem almost same Like in My place, we also have nutmeg tree, a cinnamon tree, cardamon plants, vanilla bean vines.chili because we are in tropical.
Sorry my English not so good
Regard
@vatihfrance

You look so happy!

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Hello! Nice to see that you were here in India. Are you still around in India?

Wonderful india

Awesome! This post is one of the best post for me.thanks anwenbaumeister.

How wonderful to see where the coffee beans came from! Thank you for the up vote. Great news you won one of five digital copies of my painting! Just give me your email so I can send you the file. Have a great day!
paris riverboat small.jpg

Like your smile pictures 😊😊

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Do not miss the last announcement from @steemitboard!

nice Adventure

That’s great all ^^

Hallo, pleased to meet you.
India is one of the few travel i really want to do. I will start following. If you like i usually post about mountain, montaineering and cryptos.

Fascinating blog, following.

Great, I am so glad that you took me for such a trip. Thank you :) Greetings from hot Panama

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You look full of life in your photos! I have yet to go to India (I would love to study Carnatic music there) but the plantations you visited look exactly like the ones I saw in Sri Lanka. Bless your journey and I look forward to following you!

I love plantations! This looks awesome and a great documentation! Good job :-)

Hi,
Do you have a resteem list of chinese readers?

I just discovered you @anwenbaumeister and i am so impressed by your article and your pictures. Visiting India is one of my dreams for more than 20 years. I hope to get there soon, but in the meantime I will keep reading your articles.

Cheers from Prague ;)
@klaus85