January 31, 2015
The Kaivalyam Retreat, located on a hill above a cardamom plantation, offers a one hour walk through the plantation and a two hour walk that continues on to a nearby river. They unfortunately don’t have the two walks well-coordinated and the guide continued on the river without checking if some of the guests were interested only in the plantation walk. That said, if you are interested in horticulture and have never seen cardamom growing it’s a fascinating and scenic walk.
Cardamom, used in Indian savory and sweet dishes as well as tea, comes from the seed pod that grows at the base of a plant that resembles ginger and can grow to 10 feet or more.
The plant doesn’t have much of a trunk and the long leaf stalks grow from its base.
The flower stalks grow from the same base but remain low to the ground, producing small white flowers that turn into seed pods containing tiny black seeds that resemble mustard seeds.
Along the way to the cardamom plantation the guide points out other spices and plants of interest – cinnamon tree, betel nut, vanilla, etc. He does not speak great English but his enthusiasm and love of nature shines through.