The most defining moment in the history of Spice Route was Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's eventful journey to Malabar. It opened the doors to the New World, laid the foundation for colonization and caused the rise and fall of mighty empires. Traversed by explorers and traders of yore, the Spice Route is one of History's most significant and enigmatic trade routes.
Along the historic Spice Route, several places emerged as bustling centres of trade including the ancient port of Muziris and some of the today's tourist hotspots like Fort Kochi and Kozhikode. These spots stood witness to civilisations being shaped, wars being fought, vast riches being exchanged and history being rewritten. Historical records reveal that 31 countries in Europe, Asia and Far East had spice trade with ancient Kerala, including Afghanistan, Burma, China, Denmark, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mozambique, Netherlands, Oman, Portugal and Spain. A journey along the Spice Route is a journey to rediscover some of history's magnificent stopovers.
When Kerala established itself as a major center for spice, it was the ancient port of Muziris that emerged as its hub. Sangam literature describes Roman ships coming to Muziris laden with gold to be exchanged for pepper. According to the first century annals of Pliny, the Elder and the author of Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, Muziris could be reached in 14 days' time from the Red Sea ports in Egyptian coast purely depending on the monsoon winds. However, tragedy struck in 1341, when the profile of the water bodies in the Periyar River basin on the Malabar Coast underwent a major transformation - and Muziris dropped off the map due to flood and earthquake. However, the remnants of the port and its erstwhile glory still remain as reminders of an eventful past. They are being conserved and preserved for future generations through one of India's largest conservation projects - the Muziris Heritage Project. Supplementing the Muziris heritage sites are 21 museums and other landmarks that aim to educate people about 2000 years of Kerala history.