Travelling from the forested region of Wayanad in Kerala towards the northeast of the southern Indian state is breathtakingly scenic. But just before entering the coastal city of Kozhikode, something about the nondescript highway hits with a jolt.
There’s an inescapable tinge of yellow that reflects from both sides of the road. It is the small, dusty town of Koduvally, also known as the golden city of Kerala.
With more than 100 gold shops lining a 500-metre stretch of road, Koduvally is home to one of India’s densest jewellery hubs and is one of the largest markets for gold in India.
What sets apart Koduvally from Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar, where the majority of India’s gold trade happens, is that the jewellers in the south Indian town focus on individual buyers.
“There are less than 50,000 people in this town. In fact, I call it a village. But there are so many gold shops which have been around for decades,” said K Surendran, the owner of Archana Jewellers, who also heads the local gold association in Koduvally. “Most people who come here are looking for jewellery for themselves or their family and not for trading etc.”