Unravelling the Spice routes of Kerala: Shopping, Trails & Stays

Indus Holidays

Explorer Team

Spices have always been an important part of Keralan Life. Historically, people from all over the world came to Kerala in search of spices and ended up sharing their culture and religion with the Keralites. We became the masters of ayurveda by discovering the uses of spices for medicinal purposes and what more we even fashioned a tasty cuisine with our crafty usage of spices.

This article is primarily about the spice experience Kerala offers for travellers. Kerala’s spice tours showcase plantations and production processes amidst the natural surroundings. For history buffs, Kerala’s offering is the spice heritage trail – a journey through the history of spice trade and port Muziris. Shopping for spices is another experience, aroma filled stalls and lots of interesting products. Ever tried chilly-flavoured chocolate?  We’ll tell you where to get it!

Where are spices produced in Kerala?

It is the geographical and climatic peculiarities of the lower mountains of Kerala that makes it ideal for spice cultivation. The Periyar (Thekkady) region in the east, Alleppey in centre (turmeric) and Wayanad in the north are famous for spice production. Kerala produces 70% of India’s cardamom and a majority of ‘Black Gold’- Pepper. Kerala also leads in the production of nutmeg and cloves. Other famous spices like chilli and coriander are mostly grown outside Kerala. It is essentially the range of spices produced that gave Kerala the sobriquet ‘Spice capital of the world’.

Before we take you to the world of spice plantations and the pleasures of spice shopping, we would like to introduce you to spice trade of the ancient world. It is a fascinating story starting with explorers like Vasco Da Gama discovering Kerala in 1498 in search of spices. Would you be interested in a journey in time through the spice trade? Read on.

Kerala’s Spice trail – The Muziris Heritage circuit 

Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Centuries since the first traveller landed on the Keralan shores, the world’s fascination with Indian spices still continues.

Many a modern traveller has come to India’s ‘Spice coast’- Kerala to uncover the story of ‘black gold’ or pepper. How did ancient spice trade happen? How did Europeans gain entry to India finally colonising the land? It all began with desire to control the spices trade from Kerala.

History is replete with mentions of an ancient port Muziris, the epicentre of Indian trade which apparently flourished for two millennia before it mysteriously disappeared. It was a spice city where traders of the world: Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Chinese- thronged to buy and sell everything from spices to precious stone. It was the doorway to India for varied cultures. Archaeologists rediscovered the port to a zone north of Kochi on the central Keralan coast tipping off the largest heritage conservation project in India – Muziris Heritage.


The whole area is a living museum, rich in heritage. Imagine how interesting it would be if we could pick up on the pieces of history and recreate life at the days of the flourishing port? The markets, forts, the monuments and backwaters once navigated by the spice traders more than a century before the Christian era. Did a journey through the historic Muziris catch your fancy? You might be interested in our Muziris heritage tour.

Muziris Heritage Project



Muziris Heritage Tour

All visitors to PTR must purchase entry tickets at the check post at the entrance of the reserve. This is valid for a day only.

Good For: History Buffs, HeritageLovers

Timings: All days of the week 6:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Duration:min One day (depending on activity)

A journey into life and times of a port city which was amongst the earliest of its kind in the ancient world. Today, the story is retold through monuments, sites and museums

Chief Attractions

  • A visit to Cheraman masjid, the first mosque in India built in 629 AD by a Hindu King who embraced Islam.
  • Among the oldest European monuments in India, the Portuguese fort built in 1509 was designed to challenge free passage and give trade advantage
  • A visit to Kottapuram market & fort, a heritage trade centre which still bears the stamp of foreign influence.
  • Discover the ‘Cradle of Christianity’ in India where St. Thomas established India’s first church in 52 AD
  • Visit excavation sites on the Kerala coasts which tell a fascinating transition story of the Iron Age or the Early Historic period.

Did you know? UNESCO has backed the famous spice route project which links 31 countries to Muziris and aims to revive the two millennia old trade route to the west.

Would you like our team to custom-design a tour around the Muziris heritage circuit and spice producing zones of Kerala? Help is a click away

Spice plantation tour in Kerala – a must experience

Photo by: Carmelia Haven Resort

A guided tour in a Keralan spice farm will transform your idea of what spices really taste like

For some, it is the lingering aroma of cloves, cinnamon or a combination of scents in the air; for others, the unpretentious beauty of the tiny cardamom flowers at the base of the plant, the touch of moist soil in your hands or plucking spices straight off the plant. Such are the joys of life on the farm. The cool breeze as you negotiate the winding pathways of the plantation evokes similar emotions.

For what it’s worth, Keralan spice tours are immensely educative experiences. Our guests say that tours of spice gardens will transform your idea of what spices really taste like. Experienced guides escort you around gardens keeping you excited along the way with bits of information and even some demonstrations on the healing powers of the various spices. By the time you are done (two hours typically), you will have discovered some Keralan culinary secrets, spice farming practises and got introduced to the world of Ayurvedic medical preparations. 

Spice plantation tours are also your best chance to purchase good quality fresh spices, spice powders and herbal oils directly from the farm outlets at reasonable prices. In other words, a spice tour is a highly recommended activity when you come to Kerala. The only catch is to avoid shallow touristy gardens and choose genuine plantations with passionate guides. Leave that trouble to us!

Add some aroma to your holiday @ Carmelia Haven



Carmelia Haven Plantation

A stylish eco-friendly resort set amidst tea and cardamom plantations where travellers will be in communion with many of nature’s splendored charms

Good For: Nature Lovers, Adventure Seekers

Timings: All days of the week 6:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Duration:min Two days (depending on activity)

Isn’t it a great feeling to get up at dawn in the lap of nature? At Vandanmedu (near Periyar), in the largest cardamom producing belt in the world, we present a charming hospitality experience related to the spices. Care to check out the feel of a plantation resort? 


  • A large pond stocked with fish affords the traveller a chance to indulge in spot fishing
  • At the end of the day guests may opt have a plantation barbeque with planter and family
  • For the adventurous lot, a jeep safari through the plantations and into the mountains could be a memorable experience
  • Tour the cardamom processing factory located near the planters bungalow
  • Bird watching will be nice with migratory birds like hawk eagles, hornbills, owlets visiting the property
  • A tree house stay could be a unique experience you could consider here

Looking forward to a memorable plantation stay experience with loads of fun activities? We can help you book one at the right price.

How to buy good quality spices in Kerala

Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Shopping for spices itself is a fascinating experience for the aroma and shop setting besides being really educative

Being a typical Kerala shopping item, spices are commonly available but getting your hands on good quality spices requires some walking around. Here are some tips from our side:

If you go for a spice plantation tour in Wayanad or Thekkady, you can purchase the product directly from the farm at reasonable prices. 

The Spice board of India sells premium spices through its flagship brand ‘Flavourit’. The tastefully designed showroom at LuLu Mall, Kochi (biggest Mall in India) is an educative experience. Besides you can check out some of their unique products like spice flavoured chocolate (you read that right!) and spice book  (handicraft assorted spice box).

If Fort Kochi is where you are spending time, then head to bazaar road where most of the tea and spice merchants have set shop. With the help of locals you could head to one of the go-downs and purchase good quality spices. Jew town also has a few shops which sell good spices. Broadway in Kochi is another place to bargain and get a deal for your spices shopping.

That’s it from us I guess. Hope we have been able to take you one step closer to your dream Kerala holiday. Whether it is a plantation tour, heritage trail or shopping, don’t miss out on the spice experience in Kerala. I think an observation from a client of ours sums things up best – “The black pepper you buy from Kerala will transform your idea of what it really tastes like.” Same is true for other spices.

Spice up your holiday in Kerala!

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