making meaningful connections
The Slow and Spicy Southern Experience
Discovering the real rural India
The Slow and Spicy Experience
A beautiful village in gorgeous surroundings of spice gardens, ancient rock carvings, historic temples, and rolling, rarely explored jungle covered hills. Discover the hamlet of Hulgol, nestled in a wooded landscape on the edge of the Western Ghats benefiting from the pleasant sub-tropical climate of upland Karnataka, where life is taken slowly, and food abundant with fresh spices.
The Spice House: a very special community-rum homestay experience
Our community owned and run Spice House in the charming hamlet of Hulgol (also called Hulagol), set in seclusion at the forest edge, is built around an enclosed courtyard with three attractive twin bedrooms that combine traditional design with simple, modern facilities. It is a typical Western Ghat hamlet, reliant on forestry, agriculture and horticulture, in particular spice-growing.
You’ll discover that a warm welcome by knowledgeable, considerate and attentive village hosts is a feature of your stay here. Our cheerful guides know and appreciate the value of sustaining the natural environment as well as the way of life of villagers, so they will proudly introduce you to their families and friends – a privilege that tourists rushing from attraction to attraction fail to experience, but one which we are confident will add great depth and pleasure to your break.
The three simple bedrooms have en suite shower rooms with plenty of hot water. There is a communal room for relaxing and eating as well as meeting villagers informally. But how you spend your time in the village is very much up to you and your interests. We get you started, however, with a guided village tour that gives you a flavour – not to say a tasty sample or two – of village life, the surrounding area, and the range of activities you can choose from. Many local activities are included, but you can add paid-for activities according to your interests in advance, or book locally, subject to availability. Your guide will meet you to plan how best to make the most of your stay.
As the accommodation is community owned, and all staff are local villagers, your stay is contributing to villagers’ financial welfare, and as Responsible Tourism principles and practices are followed, and sustainability is a priority, altogether your stay will be doing them much good as well as you. And what’s more you experience traditional hospitality without intruding in anyone’s home. We think this type of guesthouse provides the best possible authentic alternative to a homestay… your hosts are a village, not one family so your stay benefits the wider community.
Gentle exploration of spice gardens and river
During your stay you will discover the magic of spice, and so much more for this is a region rich in nature, history, and traditional Karnataka culture and hospitality. Here you can slowly wander through aromatic spice gardens, and around traditional rice farms where you’ll find a profusion of banana, mango, jackfruit and cashew as well as vanilla, pepper, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg, not to mention the wild fruits and herbs.
If you want to be a little more active, then enjoy a guided walk and picnic through the forests, cycle along shady forest paths to discover the astonishing carvings on rocks in the middle of the river Shalmala of linga, yoni and Shiva’s bull Nandi. Alternatively, take a gentle walk to one of the many regional forts built (some entirely of teak) by Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, who was also a pioneer of rocket artillery. You’ll probably also want to take your time exploring the spice auction market in Sirsi, and perhaps travel further to the famous 10th century Banavasi temple complex.
But, of course, there is much pride taken in preparing tasty, traditional meals for you, and you’ll find the cooks love to show off their techniques, and share their recipes using the produce and spices often gathered just a few metres and minutes away. No food mile issues here! Instead, you’ll find a vibrant community proud of its traditions, but also determined to make the most of today’s opportunities.
The hamlet of Hulgol is situated in the Sirsi region of Karnataka beneath the lower slopes of the Western Ghats (designated as one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world). Sirsi is an important but peaceful market town of Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, and Hulgol lies around 12km from Sirsi, or around 100km from Hubli station.
To reach the ‘Spice House’ you cross a wooden bridge over a small stream. The house itself is surrounded by a grassy slope which will be planted with fruit trees.
Your guide will meet you at Hubli or Kumta rail station for the 2 hour transfer to Hulgol.
Transfers from elsewhere are available on request, and we can also arrange for train journeys. Book in advance for our negotiated rates.
The Slow and Spicy Experience3 Night Stay
Private room with twin beds, and private facilities
3 meals a day featuring locally grown and caught produce
• guided tour of the village taking between one and three hours depending on you
Guides for local activities
Prices coming soon