Muziris Project should spread message of Indian cosmopolitanism: President Pranab Mukherjee

The Kerala Tourism’s ambitious Muziris Heritage Project, a mammoth conservation undertaking based on archaeological findings on the ancient Spice Route linking India’s maritime contacts with contemporary ancient civilizations, was inaugurated by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India at Koungalloor recently

 The project should spread the message of Indian cosmopolitanism far and wide adding to the country’s soft power across the world, Shri Mukherjee said.

“Kerala has through the ages demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to new traditions and values in every sphere of human thought and endeavour. Participation of people in planning and implementation of the project will further ensure full utilization of the economic and employment prospects that growth in tourism will bring to the region,” he noted. 

The project is an effort to conserve and showcase a culture that had existed for over 3000 years, when Kerala had established itself as a major centre of spice trade with the ancient port of Muziris as its hub. The port was the centre of trade between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean regions.

Pepper, precious stones, silk, beads, Ivory and pottery were exported from here to West Asia and Rome in exchange of gold coins, glass, wine and wheat. For centuries, the land of Kerala mesmerised Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Arabs, Chinese, Roman and Greeks, welcoming them to come and do trade and even settle.

Realizing the cultural significance of this ancient maritime trade route, Kerala Tourism has launched the ‘Spice Route’ tourism initiative linking 41 countries in Asia and Europe with India, particularly Kerala.

The President also released a coffee table book on the Spice Route, which in first-ever by a tourism board, is also available on Kindle.

Delivering the Presidential address, Justice Shri. P Sathasivam, Governor of Kerala said through the Spice Route project, Kerala Tourism is opening new opportunities to researchers and students in reinventing the rich cultural history of Kerala as a major hub of spice trade in the world.

In his address, Shri Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala  said the project, implemented with active support from the Central government, would define the state’s tradition of accepting and absorbing other cultures from around the world.

Shri A P Anilkumar, Minister for Tourism, Kerala said the Muziris project would open doors to the immense opportunities in educational tourism, which is a growing industry across the world.  

The port of Muziris is mentioned in the 1st century travelogues, ancient Sangam texts and Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder's encyclopaedic work, Natural History. Muziris mysteriously disappeared and researches point to the port's location as the mouth of the Periyar river in Kodungalloor.

To reinstate the historical and cultural significance of Muziris, the Kerala Government had initiated the Muziris Heritage Project with active support of the Central Government.

The Muziris Heritage Project includes built heritage like markets, forts, religious structures, palatial residences, archaeological sites and landmarks that represent over 3000 years of world history. After a lot of research, excavation works and consistent efforts to restore a lost heritage, the state has planned to open 29 museums. A hop on-hop-off boat tour of the Muziris Museums has also been developed as a unique way to experience this remarkable heritage.

The history of Muziris has drawn attention to the ancient spice trade especially along the ‘Spice Route’’, which was one of the most significant trading routes that shaped the world trade, economy and balance of power. This initiative aims to revive cultural and academic exchange between these nations for the development of a multi-national cultural corridor.

 Kerala Tourism’s efforts to protect heritage and promote peace through the Spice Route initiative have been lauded by both UNWTO and UNESCO, which  have agreed to extend all support in effective promotion and implementation of the same.

Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had applauded the Kerala Government’s initiative, saying it will not only revive India’s glorious heritage as a destination for travellers and traders but would also give a larger foothold for garnering world tourism revenue. The Ministry of Culture, Government of India is also keen on the idea of promoting the ancient Sea Route used for trade and commerce.  

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