Abraham’s Spice Garden

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Following an early start on Boxing Day we travelled south from Kodaikanal to Kumily to experience the spice, tea & coffee plantations that Kerala is well known for.

Arriving in Kumily rather late on in the evening we were unfortunate enough to find the place fully booked up in advance and accosted a couple of locals driving a Jeep who were happy to help us find accommodation at one of the many home-stays in the area. This is certainly by far the cheapest and offers a great insight to life in an Indian home.

Keen to pack Kumily’s attractions in to just 2 days we made an early start hiring a tuk-tuk with a very laid back driver called Jose (I will provide his number later in case anyone’s in his neck of the woods). He took us to see Abraham’s Spice Garden, which just a short drive from Kumily was most interesting. I will include some of the many pictures I took and hopefully some of you can help me re-identify what they are, by leaving a comment!!?

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Abraham himself gave us a tour which was incredibly lucky since a tour of 30 odd Frenchies had just descended on the Garden and we keen to avoid them as best as possible.

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Next we headed further into the hills to see a working Tea plantation and were given a tour of the factory to see how its processed. Unfortunately photos were not allowed. Surprisingly even the roots of the tea plants were used… in a furnace to help dry and roast the tea granules before they were sieved and sorted for quality and application.

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On our second day we up at the crack of dawn to make our way to the local Perriyar Wildlife Reserve, leaving our home stay while it was still dark. We were rather surprised when we arrived the gate to find everyone else had the same idea and the que for entry tickets ran into the hundreds. Fortunately Sara jumped the que almost entirely and we were in within minutes. The park was huge and there was the possibility, however rare, that we might see a tiger – so it was very annoying when bus loads of extremely noisy Indian tourists turned up throwing their litter as they do, everywhere they went!

The Park was so badly run that it was not possible to do any trekking on your own and we had to be supervised by a guide. This meant the best part of 3 hours ticket queing only to be told that all places on the boat tour were sold out and if we were lucky we might be able to go on a nature trail instead:( Following a short ride on a bamboo raft we entered the jungle quietly creeping along only to end up crossing paths with loud noisy Indian tourists seemingly unaware that their noise might scare away any potential sights of local fauna. This is really not worth the hassle. In total we saw a wild hen (though it probably escaped from Kumily), some 2 month old tiger claw marks on a tree and a 1.5m Python skin over the course of a 3hr trek!!!

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On our last evening we went to see a traditional Keralan Kathakali – a sort of silent play which accentuates facial expressions (with hindsight to rather limited effect).  We had arrived early to watch the face painting but these seemed to have been done long in advance and instead we watched them dress each other in their colourful costumes. The play was introduced with a 1 minute English intro that left little explanation for what was to follow. We really weren’t sure what to make of this and left most unimpressed. If you think I missed something…you can check the short video I made of it…and I am sure you will agree!