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Spice Market in Fort Kochi

It is a known fact among each and every Indian that the Europeans came to India for spice trade.

Every European had an assumption about a fantasy land of spices, the land ruled by the Maharajas. Many sailors tried to reach this land of spices but was unsuccessful.

Their assumptions came into reality when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da gama embarked his journey via ocean route and set his foot in Calicut on 20 May 1498. This Cape route established a link between India and Europe.

Portugal became rich in the global market with cardamom, pepper and other spices exported from Indian soils.

The French, Dutch and British followed the path of Portuguese into the land of this third world country, India, eventually taking control not only over the trade but the nation as a whole.

How did Fort Kochi become the centre of spice trade? Kodungallur harbour was initially the port that connected the native land with foreign sailors, thus was the centre of all spice trading.

This harbour was completely closed due to a flood and the traders panicked. They decided to shift their goods and trading to a harbour in Kozhikode 170 km north of Kodungallur. But suddenly one of the sailors discovered  the origin of a new harbour, caused by the same flood that shut Kodungallur harbour.

Since the new port was only 40 km south of the old one, traders decided to shift there. Subsequently, all of Kodungallur’s spice trades were shifted to the new harbour of Fort Kochi.

This made Fort Kochi, one of the major centres of spice trade with Chinese, Arabian and European traders. 

From Portuguese in 1500 to Dutch in 1653 and to British traders in 1795, each one of these European powers took control of the spice trade in Fort Kochi. Thus, the spice market in Fort Kochi is a relic of the bygone era of foreign influences and settlements.

Since Fort Kochi was the hub of many commercial activities then and now, it still remains as a European colony in the midst of native Kerala lifestyle.

Fort Kochi still stands with grandeur as an epitome of European structures, architectures, churches, trading streets etc. 

With all the Portuguese museums, galleries, Jew synagogues, Dutch palaces, British islands, Fort Kochi is distant in its culture.

On Fort Kochi beach one can see Chinese fishing nets hanging down the water on teak or bamboo poles, upon walking inside there are buildings constructed in European style for the settlement of these foreign traders, European style churches and Synagogues made for the Christian and Jewish settlers to pray and worship, European style palaces made for the foreign royalties later converted to museums or galleries by the State or District tourism departments etc.

Each of the streets in Fort Kochi are named by the British, that still remains as Princess Street, Napier Street, Rose Street, Peter Celli Street etc. There also exists a Jew street dating back before the British, where the Jewish conducted sales and trades. 

Till now all these streets have different kinds of trading happening like wooden carvings, crockery, curios, handicraft items, jewellery, metal statuettes etc. Even in the present stage the most famous of all trades in Fort Kochi is its spices.

While walking through the streets among these colourful shops and hanging ornaments, the strong aroma of finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, pepper etc draws your attention to the spice warehouses in Fort Kochi

A variety of exotic spices are being sold in the warehouses as per loose and bulk orders. A visit to the spice market here is an exciting experience as you can get to see numerous workers packing and sealing spices for sales.

The strong aroma of golden spices prevailing in the atmosphere is a pleasure to your nostrils beyond imagination.

You can also purchase these Kerala spices online with high quality for aromatic food delights.

Fort Kochi being a slice of European colony and a hub of Indian spices is a blend of different cultures and heritages in communion with the centuries gone by. 

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