Surrounded by coconut palm and cashew plantations, the market town of Kollam, or Quilon, is situated on the edge of Ashtamudi Lake. As one of the gateways to the waterways of Kerala, Kollam was an important trading city which colonial powers tried to control. Some of its old, red tiled wooden houses still line the narrow, winding streets.
Known to Marco Polo as Koilum, it traded with Europe, the Middle East and China, and evidence of Chinese connections still survives in its ceramic and in the style of fishing nets lining the backwaters.
In the 9th century, Kollam was the capital of the Venadu Dynasty; today it is known as a convenient staging post for boat trips on the backwaters. Kollam is 60km north west of Trivandrum, 120km from Kochi and 280km from Calicut, with good road and rail connections.
Mukkada Bazaar is south of Main Road. The series of parallel streets that make up the bazaar are teeming with spice warehouses, metal merchants and rope makers plying their trade. The best time to go is late afternoon.
Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni
One of the landmark building of Kollam, this is an unusual-looking Christian shrine, in the shape of a pyramid and topped by a golden Madonna. The shrine is situated near Alappuzha Road
Telephone access code: +91 474
Tourist Information Offices:
DTPC Tourist Information Centre
KSRTC Bus Stand
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Guest House Complex
Department of Tourism
Thenmala Ecotourism Promotion Society
Places to Visit
Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. The Kollam Boat Club provides boat rides as well as houseboat cruises on this lake which is the second largest in Kerala. The longest and most popular backwater cruise stretch in Kerala is from Kollam to Alappuzha, lasting about 8 hrs.
Literally 'seven creeks', Ashtamudi Lake extends north from Kollam. It is an attractive lake with palm-fringed banks and promontories extending into the water, where dugouts carry coir, copra, cashew and fish. Boat tours on the canals of Ashtamudi provide a good way of experiencing village life, coir weaving, copra drying, fish and shrimp farming, matchstick making and agriculture.
Ashtamudi is 5km north west of central Kollam. Boats leave from the KSRTC bus stand at the south end of the lake.
(5 km from Kollam) Once a British enclave, this seaside village shelters the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built in the 18th century. The Thangasseri lighthouse which is 144 ft high, constructed in 1519 by the British, is open to visitors from 3.30-5.30pm.
(6km north of Kollam) This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre and has frequent bus connections to the town.
(27 kin from Kollam) Formed by the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River, this inland shelters a quaint little village.
Some 33km north of Kollam, Alumkadavu is a centre of the construction of Kerala's rice boats, called Kettuvallams.
Alumkadavu is where the first houseboats in India were built. Even' day except Sundays, from 8am to 5pm, you can see the crafting of Kettuvallams at the houseboat building yard. Alumkadavu is also a coir-making centre.
Krishnapuram Palace Kayamkulam
Raja Marthanda Varma built this palace near Kayamkulam in the 18th century, probably expanding older royal residences that existed here. Renovated in 1999, the two-storey palace is a good example of Kerala architecture, with gabled roofs and wood carvings, and it still has its original bathing tank inside.
The palace contains the mural of Gajendra Moksha, one of the largest wall paintings in Kerala, depicting the Bhagawad story of the deliverance of the elephant chief by Lord Vishnu.
Now a museum, the palace exhibits sculptures and paintings from various archaeological sites and copies of murals from Mattancherry Palace, as well as some from other temples and churches. One of the prized exhibits is a palanquin used by the married women of the royal family, and an ancient Buddha statue stands in the landscaped garden.
40km north of Kollam
(66 km east of Kollam) Covered by dense forests, rubber and tea plantations, Thenmala is home to lndia's first planned ecotourism project.
It has a leisure zone that includes winding pathways, a sway bridge, a sculpture garden and a boardwalk; a culture zone with an amphitheatre and a musical fountain; an adventure zone with trekking trails, rock climbing,etc..
Other attractions are the Deer Rehabilitation Centre and the adjacent Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary.
(75 km from Kollam Open 8am - 6.30pm) Palaruvi which means stream of milk makes its way down the rocks, from a height of 300 ft. The Palaruvi woods are a beautiful picnic spot.
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