Culinary tourism is still a novel concept for Indians but the concept has definitely set in. We are not only willing to travel for food in other countries but also eager to explore our own country to find the next best thing in food. Personally for me, be it a rural setting or an urban food-venture; I am always ready to experiment & experience what’s on offer.
Let’s talk about CHEESE! From kids to grownups we all have craving for at least one milk product – Paneer, Yogurt, Cream or just plain milk! For me its cheese. Cheese makes me go weak in the knees 🙂 There are few places in India that make gourmet cheese on a smaller scale, where you can even learn the art of cheese-making. But how about seeing it all being made on a much larger scale? My search led me to Gowardhan Milk & Go Cheese factory. As far as I know, this is the only Farm/cheese factory in India that offers daily tour of their facility. What could be more exciting that seeing it all being made from scratch and maybe taste some fresh cheese?
To begin with, Heena Tours & Travels is the only tour company that is allowed conduct this tour. You need to arrange for your own transportation to-and-fro from Manchar, Pune district where the farm & the factory are located. It takes about 4-4.5 hours to reach Manchar.
Upon reaching, you are greeted by a representative & directed to the presentation room. You are handed a cold cup of fruit yogurt (I got lychee, yum!!) Nice way to recover from your travel fatigue. The presentation is more like marketing of Gowardhan products but thankfully it lasts for only 15-20 minutes.
After the presentation you head out to a local restaurant for a nice lunch. The owner stirs up some good food but for me the real deal is to always try the local stuff. Upon asking he gets us fresh aloo methi – made in typical Maharashtrian style with green chilis and crushed peanuts & hot chapattis. No meal can ever be as satisfying as one made from locally sourced ingredients.
Post lunch you follow the guide to the cow farm. The road is uneven & the ride is bumpy. You can see the crops being grown on both side of the road and fresh cow dung slurry being flown into the crops. It was organic farming at its best. I wish I could have gotten my hands on some of the produce!
Inside, you are not allowed to touch the cows since they can catch the infection (Good idea!). But they get a tiny calf in an enclosure for you to see and feed (Not so good idea, since the chap was shivering entire time!) Kids are allowed to feed the calf through a bottle. The guide shows you the farm’s state-of-the-art cow milking facility. Everything is automated with little or no human intervention which avoids contamination.
After the farm tour you are taken to the cheese factory – My favorite part of the tour 🙂 The entire place is filled with gorgeous smell of cheese getting processed and it’s hard to imagine how much cheese is made here on a daily basis. Apparently the plant churns out 1,000,000 litres of milk every day.
(Source – http://www.paragmilkfoods.com/our-infrastructure.php)
The tour concludes with some snacks. An array of Go cheese products is on display and you can choose to eat anything you want! Fresh pizza and hot grilled cheese sandwich was an added bonus. Is there anything better than the smell of freshly grilled cheese?
If this much food was not enough, you are greeted off with a small (NOT!) gift hamper. Thank you Heena tours & Go cheese 🙂 The guests are completely satisfied by this time.
The tour itself costs pretty less. Check Heena Tours & Travels for latest tariffs. It includes Farm tour, cheese factory tour and hearty lunch at a local restaurant, cheese tasting, evening snacks and a surprise gift hamper! Talk about value for money. Plus it is an entirely different experience than going to an amusement park or going to a mall & spending money. Apparently this tour is a complete hit with the kids – watching the cows, seeing the huge machinery at the factory and not to mention feasting on the yummy treats that are offered at the end of this tour.
My personal suggestions for this tour –
- Please allow some photography during this tour. We understand that certain aspects of your farm and factory are strategic but you can allow photography in other places. The pictures speak volumes especially for marketing & promotional purpose
- It is excellent that you have a sales kiosk in your cheese factory where customers can purchase your products at below MRP. But the kiosk is poorly managed and you do not have all the products for sale. More variety and better management is what I think is needed here.
Few suggestions for the visitors –
- When you are asked not to touch something, please DO NOT touch it! These products can get contaminated easily and you would not like stuff touched by other people in your plate, would you?
- This is a perfect place for kids to learn and experience things. But please mind your kids at all times. The floors can be slippery and the machines are running. Nobody wants an unpleasant experience, not even you!
- Animals are not toys! The cows here are very beautiful and seeing a newborn calf is the cutest thing ever. But you don’t have to touch them as they can get scared. How would you feel a stranger coming to your house and just touching you..Creepy isn’t it?
I hope more manufacturers will open doors to public in the near future. Till then make sure to experience this tour which is almost like a secret experience. I am sure you will enjoy this offbeat day trip. Eager to know your experience!
Note – This tour was not sponsored & I paid for it entirely by myself.