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Cochin (Kochi) Shopping

Where to Shop and What to Buy in Cochin (Kochi)

Unusually for the subcontinent, fixed-price shopping does exist in Cochin but, except for supermarkets and other obvious fixed-price establishments, this is at the Kerala government emporium which sells local handicrafts and artifacts. In the rather basically-named Jew Town the biggest draw is spices of every shape, smell and pungency at the Pepper Exchange and here your bargaining skills will be needed.

Another great thing about shopping in Cochin is that this is where many, many cotton items of clothing that would fetch high prices in Western shops are manufactured. This means that a lot of them make it onto market stalls in Cochin and with a bit of clever bargaining and 'bundling' you will get some great buys for a fraction of what they would cost back home.

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Antiques and Reproductions

There is a line of shops dealing in antiques and reproductions here. The artifacts include miniatures of snake boats, spice boxes, wooden temples, wall hangings - all carved out of wood. There are also replications which will be much cheaper. Tiny bronze images and boxes are also available.

Make sure that you don’t pick up anything which they claim is more than 100 years old, as legally these antiques are not allowed to leave the country. If they insist it is over a century old and are still trying to sell it to you beware as it is most likely a reproduction. Just spend some time browsing if you don’t know what you wish to pick up first.

  • Location: A side street in the vicinity of the Synagogue at Fort Cochin and Mattancherry island .

Clothes

This is the region where cotton clothing is manufactured and sold worldwide under multinational brands. T-shirts and shirts are available at unbelievably low prices. The extras from each order and the rejects all make their way onto the local market here but still, you need to bargain for each item you buy.

Plus if you are buying more than one thing from the same shopkeeper you need to haggle even harder for a lower price. Just watch out for the quality.

  • Location: Street shops in Ernakulam.

Kairali

The Kerala government emporium which sells the local handicrafts at fixed rates. It is open from 09:00 to 20:00. The artifacts, clothes and crafts are all typical to the state. A Kathakali mask makes a nice souvenir and comes in small, medium and large sizes.

The furniture is nice as well. If you want to pick out a typical local costume try the white sari with a golden border. A traditional bridal sari will have real gold thread hand woven into it.

  • Location: on MG Road at Ernakul

Spices

With a pepper exchange at Jew Town, spices are a great souvenir from Kochi. Most of them are well packed and compact making them easy to carry. They also make excellent gifts for people back home. Cinnamon, pepper, green cardamom, brown cardamom, cloves, bay leaf are all on offer.

The herbs include holy basil, fenugreek, and coriander. Try and pick well-sealed packets rather than open spices as the vacuum packed spices will keep fresh longer.

  • Location: most emporiums and shops have a section of spices. Also at most of the tourist spots there are spice stalls. There are a line of stores at Bazaar Road at Fort Cochin and Mattancherry Island.
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