Ah! How well prepared we go for this! Every time. Shopping. It’s with a missionaries’ zeal that we like to bring back local items, handicrafts, food items, every day things for the house or things for the garden from any new place, state or country. Upon finalising our Kerala roadtrip, I had particularly jumped. And made a mental list of things – coconut husks for the garden, some new varieties of plants maybe since the weather in coastal Kerala is similar to what we have in Mumbai, coir products, spices of course, sarees (!!) and a definite sortie to Joy Allukas (the famous jeweller in Kerala), buy or no buy 😉
Well, the Lord be praised, we managed most of them! And so, here’s our recommendation of what you should not miss buying when in Kerala –
Coir Products: They abound along the countryside and most tourist places. By virtue of being a coconut-rich state, Kerala produces a whole lot of coir products be it for everyday use such as rugs, mats, or decorative items such as masks, birdhouses etc. If you are the type of person who likes natural products, you will love these products. We bought quite a few things such as rugs, table mats, dinner mats, baskets for the house and as gifts. Look out for the government shops along the Alleppy expressway. They are extremely good quality and reasonably priced.
Plants: Well, I found them selling orchids along the Alleppy expressway and jumped! No way I’d leave Kerala without a few of them for my garden back home. They weren’t all that cheap though – some INR 350 per plant and extremely unwilling to negotiate.
Sarees: Want to buy those graceful Kasavu sarees? Kochi is your destination. We had time to hop into only two big stores – Jayalakshmi and Kalyan. Of these two, Kalyan has a better collection and is better priced than Jayalakshmi. We got some lovely Kasavu skirts for our daughter and kurta for our 2-yr old nephew. Both the store are 3-4 floors and remind you of the saree shops in Chennai. Some serious business here. You get sarees across price range and variety here.
Jewellery: Well, I can’t hop into a store and not buy a piece. Joy Allukas in Kochi has a very good collection of temple jewellery. Their rates here are better than the rest of the country. No way you can resist your temptation if you love traditional gold pieces…
Spices and Cashews: Well, that’s what Kerala is famous for, isn’t it? Head to Broadway in Kochi and simply enter any spice shop you see in its by-lanes. You will get all your cardamoms, cloves, cinnamons, pepper, cashews under one roof! Rates are good…don’t worry about getting fleeced!
Tea: We’d advice you to buy tea only from Munnar. There are a number of Kanan Devan Hill Plantation (KDHP) stores in Munnar, including a big one inside the Munnar Tea Museum. Best place for your stock back home..
Happy shopping! 🙂
P.S: Need help to plan a roadtrip in Kerala? Read this post for itinerary, food and shopping tips — A Kerala Roadtrip to Discover God’s Own Country