Few of us can resist the fun and flavours of local souvenir hunting in a new city we have travelled to. And, you don’t need to have a lot of money to experience this. Picking up that gift for family and friends is actually a loaded cultural takeaway from a place which now holds many fresh memories in our hearts and in our minds. The port city of Kochi for retail therapy has to be an item on your wish list if you are headed here on your tour of Kerala.
Having buzzed your way all over Kochi, seen the sights, gobbled up local eats, chatted up kids and priests, vendors and business owners, the time we set aside for retail therapy in the city allows us to peel away another exciting layer of history, culture and commercial endeavour. Kochi’s vibrant collective of local markets, ritzy malls and boutique shops offers a wonderment of treasures that cater nicely to your thirst for some really satisfying retail therapy.
The textiles of the South India have long become legend the world over. What’s lovely is that Kochi has some great outlets where you can pick up fabric, saris and made-ups that are distinctive to the different regions of the southern states. Abandon yourself to the joys of retail therapy while textile viewing and buying at the five-tiered Jayalakshmi Silks, one of the largest textile stores in Kochi. Ramachandran Handloom offers covetable products from its own looms in the weaving centre of Balaramapuram.
Kochi’s spice box alluringly combines colours, fragrances and texture, sourced from the famed spice plantations scattered around Kerala. Spices Board in Palarivattom, is a government initiative which works for fair prices to farmers with its incredible mix of spices like black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. An excellent spot to check out these aromatic delights is the Cotton Spice Market with its grand display of pepper, cardamom, anise, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, et al. Another good place for spice hunting is the street market, fancily called Broadway, but is a higgledy-piggledy line-up of hole-in-the wall shops adjoining Ernakulam Market. The 2km-line-up of shops which takes you from Fort Kochi to Mattancherry with its old buildings and old riverfront views. Is an excellent spot for spices, Nilgiri tea, coffee and traditional Kerala handicrafts. In Fort Kochi, L’atelier Des Souvenirs offers traditional southern handmade items in jewellery.
The shopaholic in you will just love Kochi’s Jew Town. The area around the synagogue offers a gaggle of outlets primed up with decorative items created from wood, bamboo, coir, seashells, brass, and sandalwood, tempting even the most conservative retail therapy seeker. Check out the items made from various parts of the coconut, including rugs, wall hangings, pure coconut oil, mats etc. Have fun drooling over prized antiques and curiosities, window shopping and bargaining for coveted items you can’t resist in this area. At Crafters, which sells and showcases antique household items, carved doors, furniture etc, pick up an iconic urlis.
Having been blown away by the classic Kathakali performance of dance, pantomime, and storytelling at the Kerala Kathakali Dance Centre in Kochi, pick up a lovely memory catcher–one of the beautifully made Kathakali masks available in various at the Kairali Emporium. This emporium is an irresistible treasure trove of authentic southern handicrafts, textiles, decorative items etc–all under one roof–and so convenient for some no-time-to-be–wasted retail therapy!
Well, there are other rich pickings to be had across Kochi, which may not have found mention here. But without doubt, you can be assured several fresh forays into Kochi’s teeming local markets and shops will unearth many fresh treasures for a lovely retail therapy session every time!