Shopping in Kerala
The colorful and sprightly land of the gods which has been celebrated the world over as God’s Own Country is a much coveted tourist destination. The largest variety of exquisitely woven silks, cottons as well as a number of products of wood, coir, jute and coconut shells can be bought off the shelves of the markets here. Besides, there are handcrafted artifacts in rosewood, sandalwood, teak as well as buffalo horn. The talented craftsmen of Kerala have turned the making of these innovative products into a thriving rural industry oriented towards exports and a lucrative tourist trade. There are a number of quaint to modern markets spread all over Kerala that provide hours and hours of shopping pleasure. One can shop till one drops at the several enticing markets tucked away in the environmentally rich niches of Kerala.
Shopping in Ernakulum
While the main shopping areas of the city are the very popular Marine Drive, M.G. Road and even the Broadway street, there are a number of quaint shopping areas which are dotted all over the picturesque environment of Ernakulum
. There are certain pre-ordained areas for locating the preferred articles for purchase. While shopping for cotton material, stitched or unstitched salwar and kameez sets as also churidar and kurti sets there is a wide variety on display at the various outlets on Tower Road as well as directly in front of the Kochi police station to entice the most choosy of lady shoppers. Silks and other delicate textiles can also be looked at and even purchased on MG Road.
For the avid book lover there are a number of book stores located on Napier Street as well as Jew Town. Besides, there are several book stores that can be seen in and around Fort Cochin. The range of subjects covered in these books available is fairly vast. There are books on cooking and other skills among a large variety of fiction and non-fiction topics. Several bookshops are also located at the main market areas of Ernakulum.
However, another very significant feature of the main market of Ernakulum is a veritable spice street whereby there are innumerable outlets of retail and wholesale marketing of exotic and mysterious spices found only within the precincts of ‘God’s own country’ as Kerala is popularly called. These markets are a virtual haven of fragrances, aromas and delicate flavors emanating from a number of well-known and several little known species. These range from the green cardamom, saffron and cinnamon to peppercorns and large, red, shiny dry chilies as also to the inclusion of ‘Kodampul’ which adds a sour zing to most of the South India dishes where it replaces souring agents like lemons, tomatoes and even tamarind.
For those who are more oriented towards curiosity shops there is an entire area of markets around the house of Vasco da Gama or the prayer house which was called the Pardesi Synagogue around which some amazing artifacts can be picked up. There is a very huge collection of traditional and heritage pieces in the form of wall brackets, windows, ‘jharokhas’ etc. There is no knowing what one may come across as a number of antique and contemporary pieces of art can be seen here. Doors, carved pillars, ceilings, an entire snake boat as also a number of small curios like temple offerings made from wood and various metals are all on display. There is a vast variety of artifacts that can be shopped for and bought in this fascinating market near the house of Vasco da Gama. There is a huge variety of treasure that awaits the avid shoppers in Kerala.
Shopping in IdukiIduki
is another beautiful environmentally rich region which is blessed with several material products that have been attracting shoppers for centuries. The Iduki markets are the world’s hub for all kinds of fragrant spices especially peppercorns and cardamom. The internationally famous Kannan Devan brand of tea is cultivated, harvested, sold and exported from Iduki. he main market of Iduki is most sought after for over twelve varieties of spices namely garlic, ginger, cardamom, vanilla, clove, nutmeg and pepper besides tea and coffee.
The natural bounty of this beautiful location affords the tourist with many opportunities to savor the products of nature like tea and coffee straight from the fields where they are grown. Most of the tea estates offer home-stays and as an add-on as they also offer the pleasure of shopping for the chosen brands of coffee and tea to the shopper in the most natural of environments. It is an experience unmatched anywhere else. It leaves an indelible mark on the memories of the shoppers and tourists alike.
Shopping in Kannur
The markets of Kannur
are chock-a-block with shops selling all kinds of handcrafted wares. The skilled artisans of Kannur have been known to work priceless miracles in ivory and gold. The carvings in ivory, the brocades in silk and gold thread as well along with several other forms of exquisite pottery items attract the shopping enthusiasts flocking here from all over the world.
All the markets have shops, kiosks and stalls that boast of some of the most alluring of articles especially brightly colored, traditional masks made on lines of the face paintings of the Kathakali dancers. All these markets are especially patronized by the shoppers because of the several chances one gets to bargain successively before finally agreeing upon an amicable price for the much coveted products that the shoppers intend to pick up. Kannur central market is also much visited by traders and purchasers of spices. Many of the shoppers flock to the Kannaur market to pick up their choicest spices including ginger powder and turmeric besides other exotic and fragrant condiments.
Shopping in Thrissur
Another one of Kerala’s most visited sites is Thrissur
. A major attraction of this place is its annual festival called the ‘Thrissur Pooram’. There is virtually a parade of festivals attributed to various religions all through the year which attract a fairly large number of visitors to its many markets and shopping complexes situated in the proximity of many of the ancient temples. Some of the prominent temples are the Thiruvambadi temple
, the Paramelkavu temple and the Vadakkunatha temple
– all have been ancient sites for craftsmen to bring in their wares so that the devotees may spend some time and purchase them while returning from the temple. Many of the products were centered around offerings and making the pilgrims’ journey easy. Thus, there was always a huge variety of vendors selling a huge collection of baskets made from all types of materials like rope, cane, metal wires etc. Various kinds of handicrafts in bell metal, brass and bronze are widely displayed by the craftsmen at stalls dotting both sides of the roads leading up to the temples.
Another major shopping area is the museum road where all those visiting the Archaeological Museum tend to spend long hours at the various shops that are open till long hours. The shopper in Thrissur can pick up picturesque earthenware lamps, a whole range of accessories suitable for their homes as well as a number of wonderful figurines, carvings and dyed metal figures. There are several bell metal workshops tucked away in to the nooks and crannies far removed from the main thoroughfare. Walking along these workshops the tourists and visitors can easily watch the live demonstrations of the metal being handcrafted. Also many of the shoppers may even get their requirements made to order. Many a tourist has also been known to sit and experiment with making their own artifacts under the directions of the master craftsmen.
Shopping in Pathanamthitta
Kerala states’ central part is the Tranvancore region. It is here that one comes across a virtual shopper’s paradise namely Pathanamthitta
. Having a population of thirty eight thousand strong, the town is a crucible of religions with Christians, Hindus and Muslims co-existing amicably in the same environment, The symbolization of their peaceful existence is visible at many places of worship that have emerged successfully in the past century. Each of these had further gained tremendous significance as a centre of the sale and purchase of an enormous variety of artifacts to suit the variant tastes of the tourists and visitors. Pathanamthitta, in itself is the veritable gateway to a number of devotional pilgrimages. However, it is primarily considered as the centralized hub for the holiest of holy - the pilgrimage of Sabarimala.
Situated on the fertile riverbanks of the Achankovil River the place derives its name from this location as well. ‘Pathanam’ and ‘thitta’ are the two root words from which is derived the name of Pathanamthitta. It literally means the home place besides the riverside. Many of the vendors can also be selling their wares at stalls found leading up from the river bank where a number of handicraft items made from the locally available materials are displayed and sold.
The specialty of Pathanamthitta is the beautifully crafted bell metal mirrors that are unique to its quaint little village Aranmula and are not found anywhere else in the entire world. Apparently one of the widows of the village had been blessed with the special skill of polishing bronze metal to such a sheen that it shone forth like a mirror. This secret has been passed down through word of mouth for generations. These bronze mirrors have a pristine crystal clear reflection matched only by the silvered ones of the high quality mirrors being produced industrially.
Shopping in WayanadWayanad
is famous for its agricultural produce like coffee, paddy, pepper corns, cassava, ginger, rubber, cardamom and coconut. Other crops also include the areca nut, fruits like mango and jack fruit, tubers and drumsticks besides papaya and dried berries. A number of shopping areas exist where these products are sold in their fresh and dried forms. Some of these areas are the Pupally and the Mullakolly hilly areas while the entire Wayanad had been literally called the ‘village of paddy fields’. The delightful aspect of the entire region is that most of the farmers practice individual and cooperative farming. Many of the tourists visiting the area tend to carry back with them the souvenirs of the rich agricultural produce of the land in the form of dried and sometimes even in the fresh and semi-dried stage to record for their friends and family the various processes through which these condiments pass.
There is a large variety of condiments, spices and artifacts available at the bazaars of Wayanad which await the pleasure of the shopper to sift and choose to his or her heart’s content. An interesting trip could also be made to the various auction centers for these very products. During the auctions the visitors can have firsthand knowledge of the different qualities available, their grading as well as the fluctuations in price. Then they can decide what they want to pick up for themselves and their families.
Shopping in Alappuzha
Another jewel in the veritable green crown of Kerala is Alappuzha
. For the avid shopper, Alappuzha has a huge variety of items to be selected from at leisure. All the materials that contribute to the making of these artifacts are natural and are either based in the agriculture of the land or its natural bounty. Since ancient times this area has dominated the luxury goods markets and handspun as well as handmade materials that had been bought and exported from these areas by royal decree, patronage, exclusive and unique range as well as purity of content. Traditionally, Alappuzha has been the home of coconut fiber produce, especially coir and several products like rugs, floor mats, carpets, etc, made from this rich coconut derivative. In fact, this is one spot in Kerala that may be called the thriving trade centre of the coir trade of the country.
The trade of mats has been going on since long and many Arab countries even today have a preference for these coir mats. Since 1859 the coir mats were formally introduced as a shopping option for the visitors looking through the many outlets. Other coconut derivatives that are sold at the quaint little shops along the main market are coconut oil, matches and handicraft items fashioned out of coconuts and shells. There are many shells to be found in the markets of Alappuzha because the fishermen as well as the tourists carry them in their raw or natural form. The markets, however, sell them in their cleaned and polished forms as also many an innovative craftsman may fashion the shells into a number of decorative or utility items like a hand mirror, a mirror frame, a table lamp etc. Several of the shoppers throng to these shops to pick up some of the unique bric-a-bac to be distributed as souvenirs and also to hold pride of place in their homes.
Shopping in Kottayam
Some of the most exotic markets of Kerala are on offer in Kottayam
. The main shopping areas are spread all over Kottayam with some of the modern malls and high tech cultural centers whereby the shopping arcades are sprinkled with a large variety of handmade and produced materials like exquisitely woven silks and cottons in the form of saris, ‘veshtis’ and currently ladies’ suit lengths.
While the heritage shopping centers provide a delightful experience for the shopper even the modern marts that have sprung up offer a curious mix of the two commercial extremes of handicrafts and corporate offerings are manifested as attractive items for purchase.
Shopping here is a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience at Kottayam because there is something for every one.
Shopping in Malappuram
Almost the entire coastline boasts of lime shell deposits which are a rich source of revenue for the entire state. However, some of the most beautifully hand-crafted materials in limestone can be seen on display in markets. All these beautiful products are sold within the precincts of ancient places of worship. Some of the agricultural products of these regions that draw a lot of shoppers are the areca nut, tapioca and bananas. The processing of bananas from the flower stage onwards is a vast worker based rural industry, similarly the sale of banana and tapioca chips and other products is unprecedented here because these products are rapidly snapped up by the shoppers.
The shopper in Malappuram is fascinated by the wonderful work done in porcelain and China clay. A large number of other minerals are also found in the region like quartizite, magnetite and ilmenite and Monosite. All these mineral ores may not have much appeal in their raw unprocessed form, but, it was found that several people become attracted to the curious shapes that these ores form in their raw, unprocessed form. Many a shopper comes away with several stones to decorate their homes.
Shopping in Kozhikode
Once famous as Calicut this shopper’s haven affords one of the best shopping experiences in the world. Deeply ensconced in the verdure of the typical Kerala natural beauties, Calicut, now called Kozhikode
offers a number of experiences that are both amazing and totally unforgetable. While shopping is limited to just a few main markets the variety and extent of the goods served is tremendous. There is a large variety of products most of which are of natural, environmental origin and some others that have been the coveted items of purchase for ages by various waves of tourists.
The Mithai Theru market or the Sweat Meats Market or even the SM Market
as it is popularly, known is the main thoroughfare for the Calicut shopping hub. The other prominent shopping areas are the CSI Market as well as the Mananchira shopping area. Most of the shopping is done at the shops that come in and around these areas over the past century or so. These markets are full of all sorts of rosewood and sandalwood crafted materials like animal and human figurines. Elephants, horses, owls and camels, besides a large variety of boxes of all shapes and sizes, attract a large number of shoppers and have been doing so for the past several years.
There is also an unmatched wholesale market situated on Court Road. It is the most overwhelmingly stocked spice market anywhere in this part of the country. Many kinds of exotic, fragrant and aromatic spices and their by-products can be bought at this saturated market.
Situated at a distance of just eleven kilometers from the main city there is a handloom cotton centre located at Beypore
. Here it is possible to pick up some of the most exquisite weaving sensations in cotton.
For the intrepid book lovers there are a number of little bookshops tucked away on Kallai road whereby the books can be browsed through at leisure and the selections to be shopped can be piled up at leisure. Besides all of the above there are several other curios things of beauty that can be accessed at the several main markets of the city. The Big Bazaar area on SM Street is renowned for buffalo horn carvings, ornate and beautifully carved out models of snake boats besides a number of woven matting from local grasses and other similar locally available materials.
Thus, shopping in Kerala affords a memorable experience for the avid shopper who can find some or the other thing to suit their taste, pocket as well as desire. These exquisite items of sale have been honed for ages to suit the needs of a changing clientele over the years. Different people from different regions have shared their ideas with the craftsmen and have been instrumental in creating artifacts that have a global demand and reach.Click Here to Read About Shopping in Thiruvananthapuram | Kochi | Ernakulam | Alappuzha | Kozhikode | Malappuram | Kottayam | Thrissur