First-of-its-kind Himalayan spice garden inaugurated in Ranikhet

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A Himalayan spice garden, the first of its kind in the entire Himalayan region, was inaugurated on Thursday at Soni in Ranikhet by noted historian Shekhar Pathak.

It showcases major Himalayan spices ranging from Kashmiri Kesar to the famed Tejpat, Timoor and Wild Heeng, found in Bhaironghati area of Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district.

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The garden has been established over an area of around 4 acres in Ranikhet with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in two years, Chief Conservator of Forest (research wing) Sanjiv Chaturvedi said.

It has been developed by the research wing of the Uttarakhand Forest Department. It presently houses more than 30 different spices out of which there are 8 spices from the Allium family (onion) of the Himalayan region, Chaturvedi said.

The main objective of establishing this spice garden was to popularize and create awareness about various spices of the Indian Himalayan region.

These spices are highly nutritious, and delicious and have been part of Himalayan cuisine since time immemorial, he said.

However, due to various reasons, they could not be popularized as much in other parts of the country.

Apart from other spices, it has kala jeera (which grows at very high altitudes only and is more nutritious and spicy than the common variety), Jakhya (one of the most popular spices in the Garhwal region, used for tempering Dal and vegetables), Gandrayani (a pungent spice used as a flavouring agent in vegetables and daal).

The garden also has Badri Tulsi (Origanum vulgare), Jambu leaves used for seasoning and also as vegetable and in soups., Lakhori Mirchi, having a very distinct yellow colour and unique to Almora. This chili is extremely hot and has antidiabetic, antibacterial properties and rich in vitamin C.

It also has an interpretation centre where information about these spices has been displayed, Chaturvedi said.

Shekhar Pathak is a Himalayan traveller and historian. He has published a number of books, research papers and popular articles. His recent work includes Chipko Movement: A People’s History based on his Hindi book Hari Bhari Ummeed.

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