Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Kombai Fruit Farm visit - a must during your Thekkady Tour

After a sumptuous early morning breakfast if you could take off from Mayapott villa at Thekkady on an open jeep or a regular sedan car or an MUV as you prefer. A jeep drive makes the whole experience very different as you will feel the heat, the breeze, the smell of the soil and the warmth of people across the Kerala boarder in Tamilnadu.
The entire drive to Pottamkulam Farms in Kombai takes roughly 90 minutes . You would drive either by the Kumbam mettu check post or by the Kumily check post from to climb down through the Ghats to the  plains of Cumbam.  Cumbam and Theni districts of Tamilnadu is predominantly agricultural landscapes with several small yet vibrant vegetable and pulses markets spread across.  

A leisurely drive about  90 minutes from Thekkady , the seat of the Periyar wild life and Tiger reserve or the Kattappana Town the famous spice trading town of the high ranges of the Idukki district you would reach Kombai. During  this drive you climb down from an altitude of 4000 ft above MSL to  300 ft MSL.  During this drive you would come cross picturesque Tamilnadu planes. The agricultural boarder town called Cumbam is the first village town you would come across, followed by Uthamapalayam, Chinnamanoor and Kombai.  Life in the Tamilnadu planes is totally different from what you would have experienced across the Ghatts in the hill stations of Kerala. 

The Kombai fruit ( Pottamkulam) Farms belongs to the Pottamkulam family from Kanjirappally, Kerala. Mr. Varkey Goerge, the third generation planter’s family member is the custodian of the 170 acres fruit farm.  A very committed planter with passionate love for grapes and fruits. After his post graduation he joined the family business of running plantations across Kerala and Tamilnadu with his brother, Sri Jojo George. 

The days are normally dry and warm and the evening brings yon home a comfortable temperature as the sun settles down. As the agrarian society mainly focuses their life around raring cattle, growing vegetables, lentils and fruits and the complexity of technology is still slow. You would come across herds of cattle and group of bullock cart having a joy ride along road where farm tractors and public buses and modern cars are passing by. You would also come across simple village folk working in the orchards and vineyards with their Tiffin carriers (lunch packs) hanging out on a shaded tree. Their loud and lively talks will be mistaken by an outsider as if they are always fighting, their sense humor and kinesthetic tones of exchanges is a main feature of their vibrant life style. 

As you enter the gates of the Pottamkulam Farms what  welcomes is live gallery of images: the swaying coconut trees, lanes of mango trees and stretch of farm land till the farthest end  of the nearby hill called Salamai and there is a small temple on top. The 170 acres of farm has  50% mixed fruits like Alphonso variety mangoes, pomegranates, Chickoos, gooseberries, and varieties of tamarinds. The rest of the 50% equally divided for coconuts and table grapes.  the varieties of table grapes found here are:  Yielding varieties Paneer Muscat (black seeded), Red Globe (red seeded), Manik Chamin (green seedless). Soon to be yielding Sharath (Black seedless), Thompsun seedless (green seedless), Flame (Red seedless). During the harvesting season it is indeed a fulfilled experience to pluck grapes and walk along the narrow lanes of vines  with your fiancĂ©e, friends family and children – a truly romantic experience like the nostalgic  scenes in the Movie-“ Walking in the Clouds” immortalized by Keanu Reeves.

 The all fruits and grapes are branded as Sunbloom to maintain its distinct quality in the market. Mr. Varkey indeed very frankly shares to the visitors secret health hazard involved  in the unnatural and unethical method used by many for ripening mangoes using carcinogenic gas and chemicals. Whereas, as a principle Sunbloom brand strictly follows the organic ripening method . “Our mangoes are all alphonso variety. We do only natural ripening. Picking from the tree at the latest matured stage and ripened in hay to attain the maximum sweetness and taste.”  Says Mr.Varkey.

During your tour of the farm, encounter with the horses and pony will be a rare nostalgic experience. There are three horses; Garnet (English Throughbred), Aravan (Indian Kathiawari), Malooty (the cute pony). The stable is beautifully designed with green and white color tones, completely merging to the shades of the farm. 

In the afternoons the horse lunging : in which the horse is trained into Gait: the paces at which horses move, usually the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  The graceful and royal movement of Garnet and Aravan listening to their master’s instructions like obedient kids during their martial arts drill. The pony carriage drive along the vineyard is a very romantic experience too especially for lovers and newly weds.

 Cycling in the tracks and hiking to the Salamalai could also be part of the itinerary during the farm tour. It will also be an excellent tent camping spot with lot of scope for farm and activity related tours.

 The stable


 In the very near future Pottamkulam Farm also will have a goat farm added to its gallery for the visitors. The outhouse and the one bedroom tented accommodation will be functioning as lunch andrefreshment center for visitors to relax after the farm tour

 The out-house roof top dining

Johnson Joseph : sisalwellness

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