This town which was hitherto known as the Jain Kashi (Jain pilgrimage centre) has become one of the finest international centres for farm tourism in the state. Ever since the New Mangalore Port started getting port calls by international cruise ships, this town has become a favourite haunt of cruise tourists from all over the world.
Spread over 100 acres on the Moodbidri -Karkala road at Bannadka, the Soans farm has a rich diversity of fruit-bearing trees and was perhaps the first to introduce exotic fruits in Karnataka. “Rambutan, velvet apple, egg fruit, mangestein, kosava, etc had been growing in the farm for the last 30 years. New varieties like jaboticaba, abieu and miracle fruit have started yielding recently. It all started as a passion. This farm was the first in the country to start cultivating pineapple under drip irrigation in 1970. Intercropping of pepper, spices and many others were subsequently started,” says Dr LC Soans, the elder of the Soans brothers, who manage the farm.
It is not just the fruits has been attracting international cruise tourists; the farm is a sort of research centre for ancient natural healing structures. Dr Soans said the pyramid, a medicine wheel and two types of labyrinth have been laid out based on the original structures in Egypt, North America and Europe.
The healing energies are not claimed to be substitutes to modern medicine or surgery, but he emphasises that our present day civilisation should not forget these time-tested tools of drugless healing. “These have proved invaluable and, sometimes, miraculous when other systems fail,” he argues.
Dr Soans, who is also researcher in energy healing, says that many of the hospitals in the United States construct labyrinths in their premises as an alternative drugless therapy for patients. He has constructed two types of labyrinths. One of these he found in a cathedral in Chartres in France and another in Island of Crete in the Mediterranean which was known to be used by ancient Greeks.
The younger of the brothers, IV Soans, is passionate about the giant Burmese bamboo groves where tourists have their lunch. “These giant bamboo reach a height of 50 -60 feet and due to their water-absorbing qualities, the grove is always 1 or 2 degrees less in temperature and gives a distinct look to the party area,” he points out.
Due to the fruit diversity and thick foliage and waterbodies, the farm has also become a birders’ paradise. Vinod Soans, son of Dr Soans, says some bird enthusiasts have identified over 40 species in the farm area. Some of these are endemic to the Western Ghats.
Moreover, one of the fruits that recorded the first yield this year is called ‘miracle fruit’ — it changes the character of the taste buds of the human tongue and makes even the most sour lemon taste sweet. The large mulberry bush area attracts fruit enthusiasts too. New Mangalore Port Trust cruise tourist lounge authorities say that the first thing tourists ask is about the Soans farm and how soon they can get there.