Monday, December 5, 2016

Dudhsagar plantation: home stay on a farm in Goa

Beyond the endless seascape, beyond the sandy beaches, beyond the brilliant facades of churches, and lies the hinterlands of Goa. Welcome then to the land beyond the hills, yes hills or atleast hillocks of Goa. Near the city of Ponda and about 65 kilometers from Panjim lies Dudhsagar Plantation, a family run farmstay within a spice farm no less.

Run By Ajit Malkarnekar, and his family of two sons, Anil and Ashok,and his trusty dogs, this farm, has been in the family since the early 80’s.

The lay of the land: A little off the main road, the entire plantaqtion is within stone walls, providing as much security as a place in the villages can. A wrought iron gate welcomes you, followed immediately by bushes of hibiscus tree, a few strutting roosters, and the smell of fresh cow dung. The cow shed is to the right of the gate, and beyond the car park, to the left of the entrance is the bio-gas plant which generates natural gases , more on that later.

A paved path winds its way to the dining space. A thatched roof held up by wooden rafts is a delightful little dining space; very rustic, warm and inviting. We spent our evenings as well as mornings just chatting in this open air space, and more than a dining space, I would call this the common meeting room.

There are at present two lodges, and three more are nearing completion. A swimming pool is also under construction. The larger of the two lodges has two sets of double beds, which can easily sleep 4 people on the four beds, and a few more on the floor as well. this room with it’s expansive dimensions, large balcony, and huge bathroom, is more like a dorm, and is ideal for families, or even a group of friends.
The second lodge is two bedded, and more suitable for a couple, and has a open sky washroom for the adventurous .
can you spot the rabbit in the picture?

a house amongst the trees

lounging in our balcony

The hinterlands: Mr Ajit Malkarnekar, has lived his life in many a foreign country, and yet chose to finally settle down here, and the walk throught he spice farm shows why. Not only is the farm a study in biodiversity, and bountifulness of nature, it also shows the immense love the man has for his farm. Mr Malkarnekar pointed out the betel nut trees, the pepper creepers, the organic veggies on his begetable garden, the ‘mango turmeric’ the use for making pickles, the curry leaves used in the cooking, the coconut trees, the oil of which is used in almost all the cooking. He showed us the well which provides the fresh water, the compost plant used to make compost, the feni distillation unit for making feni. All these come together to provide a unique snapshot of a typical Goan farm. Betel nuts drying in the sun, cows grazing in the open fields, the clucking hens and roosters lording over one and all.







The food: When the farm was first bought, Mr Malkarnekar decided to build a bio gas plant. The concept is very simple, a pit holds all the fresh cow manure , it then passes underground, where it ferments and produces’bio gas’ this bio gas is passed through a pipe, into the kitchen, where all the food is cooked on a bio gas stove. I even heated my son’s dinner on the bio gas stove. Recycle, reuse and reduce, building a sustainable ecosystem is what the dudhsagar plantation is aiming at. From the solar heated water, to the composting, and now the bio gas stove, there is a lot of care to give as much as they take from mother nature.

I am not sure if it was the invigourating farm air, or the freshness of the farm produce, or the bio gas stove, but I over ate during all the meals we ate at the farm. Now here I need to explain something, we live in Goa, and thus, the use of coconut milk, or grated coconut or the preparations of fish curry or the tanginess of the kokum juice were not new to us. and yet they seemed more rustic, may be it was the fact that we enjoyed these in the salubrious surroundings.
cooking on a biogas stove

fish curry and rice, and an out of this world fresh pickle

flattened rice flakes cooked in coconut oil.

red chillies drying in the sun, farm fresh and fiery

little one playing with betel nuts

the lunch is served

we got back some farm fresh bimla, pickles to be made at home



Brick bats: Are there room for improvement? Yes, ofcourse. For one the ‘creature comforts’ are missing. The simple farmstay does not have the ubiquitous shampoo, shower gel,toothpaste  and other toiletries, neither does it have the electric water heater to make coffee and tea in the rooms, its just one of those things that we have come to accept from our stays in any stay, whether a home stay or an air bnb. The rooms while very clean, tend to be Spartan, the quilt even though warm, are scratchy. Nitpicking? Maybe, but this is at the end of the day a farmstay, so expect to let go of your city life expectations and go with the flow. I infact loved that there was no television in the rooms, and also the dim lighting of the rooms, creating a sense of warmth .

Even though it is situated far from the madding crowd, Dudgsagar plantation is not far from the river, the waterfalls, the national park, or the zoo. These are all places we tend not to visit in Goa, and I am not just talking about the out of town beach bums, but the home bred Goans as well. Dudhsagar plantation is a nice way to reconnect with nature and yourself, even if it is for a few days.

For making reservations visit dudhsagar plantation .

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