Ancient Spice Route And Its Significance

Recently, Kerala Tourism receiving support from UNESCO for its initiative to tap into the tourism sector’s potential in the ancient spice route was in the news. We all have heard about this ancient trade route and as Indians, we can be proud that we share this heritage with 31 other countries.

What are the Spice Routes?

So what is the spice route and why was it important? Would you have ever thought that the spices sitting in a glass jar in your kitchen cabinet were costlier than gold? Will you believe that numerous battles were fought over the little flowers, barks, and seeds of plants that were once considered a luxury? That was the case until a hundred years ago. The spice route was a maritime route that connected the major ports that traded spices. The spice route got its name because the most important item that was traded in this route was spices. This is also known as Maritime Silk Road because unlike the silk road that was through the land, this route was through the sea. The main countries in the spice route are spread over Asia, Africa, and Europe. This route starts from Japan to Europe through India, the middle east, and so on.

Spice Route and its significance in world history

As said earlier, spice routes started as a trade route connecting ports that traded in spices. A lot of goods were exchanged along with these ports such as ivory, precious stones, and so on. But the most important was the exchange of knowledge happening along this route. That is why it is significant. According to UNESCO, this is what gives these trade routes a crucial role in the history of the world. Before Vasco Da Gama found the sea route to India, the spice route was controlled by Arabs and North African traders. These middlemen became insignificant when the sea route was discovered and Europeans were trading directly with the country in the East. The Spice trade played a major role in developing new naval technology, diplomatic relations with the countries of Asia, and a lot more. Colonialism was a major outcome of the spice trade along with many other significant reasons. Many wars were fought as well in the name of spices, as stated earlier. Thus, the spice route has a major place in the world’s history book.

Spice Route and the Kerala Connection

Before delving deep into the spice route’s Kerala connection, let’s take a look at a port that is in the central part of Kerala. This legendary port was the heart of the spice route. But it disappeared around 3000 years ago. This was the port of Muziris, which was one of the busiest ports in the world during its prime. Trades were done even with the Greeks and the Romans at this port. Kerala Tourism is now reviving this lost legacy through its dream project, Muziris Heritage. The history of the spice route took a defining turn when Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama stepped foot on the Malabar coast which is in Kerala. This led way to a vibrant spice trade, deleterious colonization, major wars and so many other historic events. Places in Kerala such as Kozhikode and Kochi became famous because of the spice trade.

The Future

Kerala Tourism has already started implementing plans to bring back the lost charm of the port city with its heritage project. Hopefully, it will attract a lot of tourists in the post-COVID era which will give a boost to the sales of authentic Kerala spices and other tourism-based industries. As Indians, we can be proud that our country was a melting pot of culture with vibrant trading ports that were linked to the whole world.

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