Shopping in Kerala | What to buy | Where to shop | Complete Guide

Who doesn't love shopping? Well, don't answer that because, without doubt, that was a rhetorical question. The three golden words, "fifty percent off" have the power to lift up anyone's mood, and I'm sure you are no exception. Kerala, being a hot tourist destination, encounters countless visitors who have long lists of 'to visit' places but are clueless about shopping there. To make life simple, here is a list of a few markets where one can get their desired products at unbelievable prices. Though online shopping has gained a lot of prominence in recent times, traditional marketplaces have their own charm which stands unchallenged till date. Purchasing items relax one, though it may pinch the pocket of another. Stereotyped as being a 'girly' pursuit, there is definitely no harm in having a knowledge and being economic and smart. This is one thing that doesn't need any specific festival or season. Shopping fulfills both wants and needs, and there is no such thing as extra shopping since none of it ever goes waste. Also, read about How to plan a Kerala Trip here.


Tea and Coffee: 

These two qualify as the most consumed beverages all over the world. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why passionate masses flock to purchase these two and keep stock. The Nilgiri Tea of Kerala, Kerala Kapi, and Monsooned Malabar Coffee are abundant in fragrance, taste, and tint. These can be bought from local stores and certified counters of tea and coffee estates. Tea estates can be found in Munnar, Kolukkumalai, Wayanad, and Vagamon while coffee estates can also be located in Gavi, Nenmara, and Idukki. Sipping tea/coffee from a tumbler while being immersed in nature is pure bliss and spending a little on comfort, never harmed anyone. Categorised as a classy buy, tea and coffee, both, are usually purchased by those who really have an understanding of what quality stands for. If even the name of these two, make you drool, you must definitely know the places mentioned and visit them, come what may. 


Spices:

Shopping in Kerala.

Image Credits: Franx' .

 As popularly stated, Kerala has a number of spice gardens which produce the world's best spices for everyone to absorb and enjoy and that too at economic prices, so one's pocket isn't pinched too hard. Though it is essential to be careful while carrying spices that they do not spoil other commodities in the bag, they can be really useful if stored properly in airtight jars. Fresh spices include black pepper, cloves, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise, with vast plantations and variety, that no one can afford to miss out. Hotspots for picking these are sellers in Kumily, that is close to Thekaddy, and the vicinity of Fort Kochi.


Banana Chips and Cashew Nuts: 

Locally known as Nenthra-Kaya Ooperi or Upperi, banana chips (made from raw as well as ripe bananas)  and cashew nuts are amongst the most popular dry snacks consumed and savored by the population of not only Kerala but on a global scale.  The banana that has the potential of being the second most grown plant in Kerala, after coconut has numerous types in demand and the chips can be sweet, salted, hot, etc. The cashew plant that was brought by the Portuguese from Brazil has also not been far behind in the race and rapidly become a favorite of many. Crunchy banana chips and a well-curved cashew are pure delights. They can be shopped from stalls near Fort Kochi. An important note to Globetrotters is that they must ensure and remember to taste and bargain before placing bulk orders.


Kavasu Mundu (Sarees, Drapes, and Dresses): 

Being the conventional fabric of Kerala, Kavasu Mundu is a pure, handmade cotton material which has a classic zari border. Though is it viewed as a typical Malayali traditional dress, people, with changing times, have adopted to new parameters and also put it on during functions, religious temple visits, and marriage ceremonies. While the mundu is to men, sarees are to women. ‘Ghagra-cholis’ of the same are also available. Price is greatly influenced by the contrast in handwork and place of purchase and usually ranges from 350 rupees to a few thousand. Branded stores, as well as local markets with inexpensive items, fit into everyone’s budget. The venue for these would also be Fort Kochi.


Handicrafts: 

These significantly include craft objects for the decoration of the home that are hand-made.


Coconut and Coir Products: 

Kerala is a state that has been named after coconut (‘kera’ means ‘coconut’ while ‘alam’ means ‘home’) so due to obvious reasons, it is impossible to leave the land of tranquility and development without a coir product in your kitty. The horizon in every direction, till the eyes can see, is marked with trees of the same. The merchandise consists of rugs, carpets, mats and other appealing keepsakes of coconut husk that can be obtained from outlets at every nook and corner.


Kathakali Mask: 

Shopping in Kerala.

Image Credits: Manoj Damodaran.

The eminent form of dance drama from Kerala pulls millions of fascinated backpackers to the state who watch the show in complete awe. A Kathakali token, be it a wall hanging, a showpiece, a fridge magnet, or a mask is a must. The loose, colorful tassels also add to the charisma and these can be chosen from any souvenir store.


Nettur Casket and Chundan Vallam and Uru Models: 

Every traveler and a wise man are aware of the annual boat races organized in Kerala where long snake-boats and other boats participate and compete against each other before one, rowed by innumerable rowers, finally emerges as the winner. Chundan Vallam and Urus (miniature model boats) make outstanding gifts and memories that can be kept to improve the aesthetic and cultural value of one’s home. Though real ones can cost in millions, models one are definitely cheaper. Fine wooden chests that can be employed for storage of coffee, jewelry, etc also make vintage buys.


Nettipattam: 

These are ornamental trinkets for elephants put to use during temple processions. Earlier, they were made of pure gold in royal times, however, imitations one have now gained pace. Nettipattam can also be sued as a decorative wall hanging to enhance the interiors and remind one of their vacation or precious cultural heritage which seems to be degenerating with each passing moment in today’s time of adulteration and corruption.


Nilavilakku: 

Considered an important home décor item, it is necessary to own this one. This is a Malayali oil lamp that comes in all sizes great and small and is used in hotel receptions a well as home courtyards.


Aroma Oils and Perfumes: 

Whenever one thinks of a vacation or a weekend off, relaxing spa massages automatically make way and pop up in one’s mind. Rejuvenating spa sessions, beauty care therapies, and revitalizing manipulation centers are frequently packed with clients. A wide range of aroma oils and essences at competitive rates are also available in Kerala that is an addiction for many. Not just for cosmetic purposes, but also exploited for curing asthma, migraine, back pain, etc., these are deeply probed.


Jewellery:

 A golden rule of purchasing jewelry is to always ask for a proper cash memo and receipt after the transaction. There is junk jewelry that is artificial as well as real gold jewelry which is a prized possession among the Keralites.


Aranmula Kannadi: 

This is a mirror made only in Kerala, only be a certain family which has successfully kept the alloy composition a secret for years. Made from a metallic alloy, it requires tremendous endeavor due to which it is expensive. It is claimed to bring prosperity and growth with good times to those who own one. Aranmula Kannadi can be purchased from the family workshop where it is created.


With a total of 25 shopping malls, Kerala can compete with any international destination when it comes to shopping. However, outside the walls of a mall is where one truly finds unique products that are worth purchasing and will be valuable eternally. The four flea and street markets are Cochin Spice Market, Chalai Bazaar, Kovalam Fish Market and Connemara Market namely. The seven antique stores also appeal to the senses of true admirers of art. Extremely necessary to be careful while out of the house, this is an attempt in summarizing products that are worth it and must be invested in while in Kerala. Covering a wide range of products, it’s time to get over top brands. ‘Cultural Shoppe’ is a hot destination to pick items typical to Kerala. Not being too exorbitant, there is scope for each to buy little happiness. The ones that didn’t make it to the list include sea shell showpieces, earthen spice grinders, umbrellas from Alleppey which is called the umbrella capital of the world and Kerala theme t-shirts that have boldly printed “Kerala, God’s Own Country’ on them with elephants and coconut palms. 

Let shopping in Kerala not be tiring anymore. Enjoy every moment and leave the research work on us since we too travel virtually to bring the most accurate information to you. Feel free to share your experiences and details of products you purchased on your getaway.