Kollam (Quilon)

66 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam is an old sea port town on the Arabian Coast and stands on the banks of Ashtuamudi Lake - a lake with 8 creeks. Kollam has maintained commercial relations since ancient times: Phoenicians, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese have traded at this port. The town's commercial importance led the Portuguese to set up a factory here in 1502. This passed into the hands of the Dutch in 1661 and later, in 1795, to the British. Today the red-tiled roofs that dot the low skyline of Kollam are a reminder of the architectural influences of the Dutch and British villas. Kollam is fairly important for the state's trade and commerce and is the center of the country's cashew trading and processing industry. It is also an important hub for the state's marine products industry.

Kollam's primary reason for fame now is as the gateway to Kerala's exceedingly beautiful backwaters. The 8-hour-long boat trip from Kollam to Alappuzha is the best and most comprehensive introduction to the delights of Kerala's backwaters, as the journey meanders through lakes, canals, and waterbound villages. The famous `Cheena Vala' or Chinese fishing nets dot the waterline along the trip.

As a typical southern Kerala town, Kollam offers a tranquil, rural atmosphere, punctuated by the bustle of trade and commerce in its many busy and crowded market streets and junctions.

Sightseeing/Excursions

Thangassery: 5 km from Kollam lies Thangassery. A place of historical importance with ancient churches built in the 18th century. It also contains ruins of a Portuguese/Dutch fort. There is a lighthouse and visitors are permitted to visit it between 3.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. Frequent bus service is available from Kollam.

Thirumullavaram: About 6 km north of Kollam, the beach here is very beautiful and quiet - ideal for swimming and sunbathing. It is connected by bus services.

Ariankavu, Palaruvi: 70 km on the Kollam-Shenkottai road, is Ariankavu. The main attraction is a shrine dedicated to Lord Sastha. The main festivals at this temple are the "Mandala Pooja" and "Trikalyanam", celebrated in December. 5 km from Ariankavu is a waterfall known as Palaruvi, with a height of 300 feet. There are frequent buses to Ariankavu from Kollam.

Sasthamkotta: 29 km from Kollam, there is an extensive fresh water lake here - the largest of its kind in Kerala. There is also an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Sastha here. There are frequent bus services and the journey takes an hour. Accommodation is available in a PWD Rest House.

Kulathupuzha: 64 km on the Thiruvananthapuram-Shenkotta road, on a forest range, there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Sastha here. The most important temple festival is the Vishnu Mahotsava in April/May. There are buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha and the railway station at Thenmala is 10 km away.

Mayyanad: A small town, about 10 km south of Kollam, is noted for its shrines and temples. There are nine temples and the most important is the one at Umayanallor. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Mayyanad.

Boat Cruises

The Kollam District Tourism Promotion Council, which functions from the Government Guest House at Asramam, 3 km from the Central Bus Station, arranges on request, a one-day city tour by coach for a group of ten or more persons.

For a group of 20 persons or more, the Council will arrange on request, a backwater cruise to Alappuzha. The council also provides motor, row and pedal boats on hire. An adventure park is maintained by the Council. It is open from 5.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. on all days.

Rice boats, similar to house boats ply from Kollam Kochi to Cochin and Kottayam. It provides 2 double rooms, a kitchen and a bath in each boat.

Access

Air: The nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram.

Rail: Kollam Junction is an important railway station in the Southern Railways network in Kerala and connects to almost all important centers in the country.

Road: Kollam is connected by good motorable roads on NH 47.

Accomodation

Checkmate Gardens
Thirumullavaram
Tel: (0474) 204731

Hotel Lake View
Thoppilkadavu
Tel: (0474) 204669

Hotel Karthika
Chinnakkada
Tel: (0474) 76240

Hotel Sea Bee
Jetty Road
Tel: (0474) 75371

Shah International
T.B. Road
Tel: (0474) 75362

Sudarshan
Parmeswar Nagar
Hospital Road
Tel: (0474) 75322

Kerala