Spice and herbal garden in Sri Lanka. Exotic it sounds, all right. But for a garden lover like me, it was a must-see. Nay, must-visit. Jayanta found and planned for one enroute Kandy from Habarana. And so, post our Dambulla Cave Temple tour (Read about: Dambulla Cave Temple Tour), we stopped at one for a 30 minute tour.
The road is lined with gardens that allow visitors to take a tour. In fact, the garden are pretty organised, with most of its staff leading separate groups through numerous shurbs and trees and climbers, briefing you about their flowers and fruits, and their medicinal quality. Remember, this is just a portion of the garden, where they have every variety in clusters. 30 minutes is more than enough to get you acquainted to the turmeric, ginger, vanilla, neem plants. Most importantly, they make medicines out of the roots, leaves, stems, flowers, fruits of these plants. And as you walk along, you almost find a cure to migrane, high cholesterol, diabetes, body pains, bone pains, acne, even hair-removal creams! All ayurvedic, mind you. No chemicals. We were impressed.
Once the tour is over, your guide takes you for a free massage with the oils that they make from the garden’s spices. It’s free. You can leave any amount as tips once your massage is done. Mostly, they take your back and arms to give you that ‘spa treatment’. Its in the open, mind you, with other visitors around you. And hence, completely safe. The one we got, father daughter and me, were truly wonderful…our backs felt new all over again….
Most spice and herbal gardens in Sri Lanka also have a shop from where they sell all the medicines they showed you during the tour. Take our warning, do not get carried away by the stock they have displayed out there. Pick the ones you really need. For, most items are priced on the higher side. We picked up quite a few bottles, like the sandalwood oil (why did I pick that from Sri Lanka when our country has them too? Shopaholic us!), an oil for insect bites which is really really effective, some spices (again, not necessary if you are an Indian) and a concoction for cholesterol that cost a bomb! We haven’t opened the bottle even now. A completely unnecessary buy!
Finally, to answer my own question —- Are the Spice and Herbal Gardens in Sri Lanka worth your time? Well, here is as honest as I can get with the response — If you are an Indian, you probably can give it a miss since all of those spices and medicinal plants are known to us, India and Sri Lanka being tropical countries with similar vegetation. In fact, Sri Lanka’s vegetation resembles Kerala so much that you’d be forgiven if you get the ‘Kerala feeling’ when in Sri Lanka. Having said this, the products are good. As long as you don’t lose your head and buy over-priced items that might not be necessary, a tour of the spice and herbal garden will not do any harm. Gives you just that much more experience and perspective…
Our next pit stop was for lunch. And then, another round of mindless shopping at the factory outlet of Noritake, one of the best crockery and cutlery stores in the world! Post on that misadventure coming soon….
P.S: For a complete Sri Lanka itinerary and tour details, read — Best Itinerary & Blogs for Sri Lanka Road Trip