About 30 km from Panaji, Ponda sits in the middle of Goa state and besides being the home of Kingfisher beer, houses a dense population of temples in its surrounding area as well as spice plantations. A 30 minute drive brought us to the temple of Sri Manguesh, dedicated to the god Shiva, which boasts a huge octagonal sanctuary tower, and is a popular destination for many pilgrims. Sri Manguesh Temple... A few kilometers further is Sri Mahalsa temple which predates the Portuguese rule of Goa and houses Lakshmi, goddess of wealth & property. An ornate building of carved wood and marble, its courtyard holds a lamp tower around 50ft tall which hosts hundreds of tiny oil lamps during festivals. Lamp Tower at Sri Mahalsa...

From here we continued to the Sahakari Spice Plantation, a 130 acre site, a small part of which has been set aside for tours. For a mere 300 rupees per person (6 Euro), we were welcomed with garlands and a spicy herbal drink. The tour is interesting & informative, showing each of the spices that they produce and explaining how they are grown and cultivated. These include coffee, turmeric, cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and piri-piri.
Plantation guide with Star Fruit...

At the end of the 45 minute tour each person receives a ladle of refreshing, cool water…down their back…. followed by a delicious buffet lunch of local dishes, (including a throat-warming shot of the local hooch, Cashew Feni).

A visit to the local animal rescue centre tells a sad tale of lost, abandoned or injured dogs. So, the “lets not harm animals” side of religion only goes so far…
Every dog they receive is sterilised to try and cut the numbers but there are so many of then wandering the streets. They are like feral dogs everywhere, lean and tan in colour. Most are very friendly… they know a soft touch when they see one.
We were shown round the rescue centre by Tanja Larsen who looks after the day to day running of the place.
The rescue centre is part of the IAR – International Animal Rescue.
As well as dogs they look after cats and even cattle. The Agra branch has a bear centre where they rescue the dancing bears of India. They have some 160 acres that they run jointly with Wildlife SOS India. So far they have rescued 242 bears. www.air.org.uk is their web address.

Marie in Bombay is still sorting boats and planes to Iran for us but nothing concrete yet, but it looks like 800USD for both bikes and we fly to Dubai and then to Bandar, meaning we don’t have to go to Tehran and then the long train journey back to Banda.

Tomorrow, 23rd August we leave for Bombay.

The next instalment is here

Posted on 16. August 2007 by micki

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