Kerala, the land of spices!

Pepper plantations Kerala- Keala Travel Centre

Kerala is the land of spices, as someone rightly observed on their holiday to this beautiful state. Nestled in the lush green highlands of Periyar, these spice plantations never failed to attract visitors and admirers- be it Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, the Arabs, or the British. An urge to own the vast property, to grow a variety of spices for export and domestic sale has been the desire of many. Now, these spice plantations attract visitors and tourists by the dozen- everyone is curious to know why the food in Kerala is so tasty!

Spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, pepper, bay leaves are grown on these vast expansions of land. Often, an elephant ride is offered to visitors for a tour of the entire plantation.  Walking tours are also an option, and are a better opportunity to know more about spices. The knowledgeable and friendly tour guides continuously interact with visitors and provide them with a lot of information. Visitors are given a chance to feel the growing spices with their own hands. The rich aroma of the spices, especially of cardamom, makes certain that the walking tour is a memorable one.
Spices- Kerala Travel Centre

Kerala cuisine uses a significant variety of spices in different dishes. Pepper, also known as the ‘King of the Spices’ is grown on a large scale across Kerala. Black pepper in particular is considered the richest amongst all the spices and was also called ‘Black Gold’ by foreign traders and sellers in the olden days. Pepper was considered as a symbol of status and success, according to history. People paid in peppercorns to pay off their debts in the olden days and rent and dowry was also measured and paid in appropriate amounts of peppercorns.

Another spice broadly cultivated in Periyar, Kerala is cardamom. Famously called the ‘Queen of Spices’ because of its delightful aroma and taste, cardamom is used as a flavouring element in most Indian dishes. Cardamom is also used in a variety of preparations across the world, such as baked products and confectionaries, sausages and curry powder. India is the second largest exporter and producer of cardamom, after Guatemala. Cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice by weight and market value, preceded only by vanilla and saffron. The Queen of Spices also has a reputation of having several health benefits. According to the wise words of Ayurveda, cardamom aids digestion and helps those suffering from stomach cramps. It has detoxifying properties and is said to be beneficial for people suffering from asthma or bronchitis if taken in small quantities since it improves blood circulation to the lungs.

Spice Store- Kerala Travel Centre

Other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and bay leaves are also cultivated on a large scale here, and play a big part in the exports of the country. The spice plantations in Periyar often have shops that sell some of their best spices, which are their pride and joy, to admiring visitors. The spices bought here are much larger in size, and have an excellent taste and aroma, which make the sale worth it. There are a number of good options to stay in Periyar who also organise tours to spice plantations and are always ready to assist visitors if need be. Some excellent places to stay near the spice plantations include Spice Village, which offers 52 cottages, which are split into standard and deluxe cottages, Aanavilasm Luxury Plantation House which is a farm house that stands right in the middle of a huge seven acre pepper and cardamom plantation and the Periyar Reserve Bungalow which is a stunning jungle lodge set amidst six hundred acres of leafy green tea and cardamom plantations to name a few.

BBC presenter and traveller Kate Humble embarked on a journey along India’s ‘Spice Coast’, Kerala to uncover the story of pepper, a spice once known as ‘black gold’. Sought after across the world, few know of its real story and origins. As Kate went from one region to another in Kerala following the spice trail, she discovered the history of this amazing spice and how it enticed European invaders to come to the shores of Kerala. Amongst other things Kate discovered the pepper dance used to shake the berries from the stalk, saw first hand, the use of the spice in cooking and learnt the old secret language of pepper traders while at the same time discovering Kerala. Kerala Travel Centre has a special ‘Spice Trail tour’ which gives you the opportunity to follow in the foot steps of the presenter and go on a fascinating journey of discovery.

Plan your visit to the land of spices today. Click here to know more about discovery tours to Kerala organised by Kerala Travel Centre. You may call up on Freephone 0808 178 9799 and talk to one of our experts who will design a wonderful tour for you, or simply visit www.keralatravelcentre.com and handpick your tour!