Calicut was a major transshipment port for a wide range of products, and pepper in particular. It was the first port of call in India for Vasco da Gama when he arrived on the subcontinent in 1498. Here too the Dutch encountered the Zamorin of Calicut

the most powerful Hindu ruler on the Malabar Coast

for the first time. During the time that the VOC enforced its monopoly of the pepper trade Calicut served as a smugglers' haven, with local dealers transporting their pepper via inland waterways.