KollamBackwaters, Wildlife & History
About thirty percent of this historic town is embraced by Ashtamudi Lake. This lake, which has eight channels or arms is the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala.
An emporium of international trade in the Old World, a land extolled by Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta, Quilon or Kollam as it is known today, is much more than just a land. Kollam has had a strong history of commerce since the days of the Phoenicians and Romans. Rich with tales of a bygone era of the Dutch, Portuguese and British, Kollam is today the heart of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry and the Ashtamudi Lake here is the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala.
Kollam is situated about 71 Kms. north of Thiruvavanathapuram (Trivandrum) and is linked by rail, road and backwater transport. The town edges with the famous Ashtamudi lake. Many a foreign traveler has visited Kollam in early medieval period. It was one of the early centres of Christian activity in Kerala. It is said that the present town of Kollam was built by the Syrian Merchant; Sapir Iso, in the 9th Century A.D. The 144 ft. Thangassery Light House, built in 1902, is a centre of attraction. Other attractions are the Pullichira Church established in 1700 A.D. and the oldest and most important Mosques in the Chinnakkada Palli.
ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND KOLLAM
Thenmala is the meeting point of Kollam-Shencottah road and Trivandrum-Shencottah road, surrounded by dense forest, 66 kms east of Kollam. There are a large number of rubber and tea plantations in Thenmala. Timber of all varieties are exported from here to all parts of the country.
India’s first planned eco-tourism destination, Thenmala gained popularity owing to its unique vistas, bio-diversity and functioning. Thenmala shares its resources with the famous Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Trekking, mountain biking, camping etc. are the highlights here.
Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary
A part of the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve, the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary is a valley of green splendor. A tropical semi-evergreen forest, the sanctuary is home to animals like elephants, leopards, bisons, sambar, wild boar, Lion-tailed macaques, langurs, deer etc.
Palaruvi Water Falls
Palaruvi is one of Kerala’s most picturesque waterfalls, cascading down a height of 300 feet. Literally meaning a stream of milk, the waterfalls is a favourite picnic spot for visitors from all over south India. The trek to Palaruvi through dense tropical forests is an awe inspiring experience. Season to visit the places is from June to January.
Parappar Dam Site
Located at about 1km from Thenmala Eco-tourism area, the Parappar Dam site is renowned as Southern Thekkady.
Manalar – Kumbavurutti Waterfalls
An ideal destination for trekking and bird watching, the Kumbavurutti waterfalls is located 4km from Manalar. The charm and beauty of this destination is comparable to both the Palaruvi and Athirapalli waterfalls.
Achenkoil is an important pilgrim center. The Sastha temple here, situated amidst dense forest. The idol of Sastha is supposed to have been installed several centuries before the Christian Era. The two important festivals of this temple are Mandala Pooja (December-January) and the festival held at ‘Revathi'(January-February). The two notable features of the festival are the Therotam (chariot festival) and Pushpabhishekam (offering of flowers). In no other temple of the South India are flowers offered to the deity so lavishly as at Achencoil.
One of the two main points bordering Alappad, a narrow strip of land in between the Arabian Sea and T.S. Canal, Azheekkal is a treat of visual beauty. Fishing and mineral sand mining are the two major activities here
Ayiramthengu- Mangrove Forest
The Portuguese church established during ancient days is another aspect of interest for travelers to these mangroves.
Renowned for its historically important church constructed in the year 1840 by the Portuguese, Clappana is located 5km from Vallikavu. Clappana is also famous for its rich vegetation of mangroves and the thriving coir industry here.
Created by the backwaters of the Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River is a small island christened the Munroe Island. Named after Col. Munroe, the British Resident of erstwhile Travancore State, this island is located 27km from Kollam. The peculiar Village Backwater tours on offer here are so spectacular that they have earned international recognition in the magazine, Lonely Planet.
Paravoor – Pozhikkara
Located barely 20km from Kollam City, Paravoor offers a spellbinding view of the backwaters as well as the sea that are located on both sides of the land. One of the most enchanting places in South Kerala, the destination is located close to the famous Varkala Beach.
Pozhikkara, yet another popular picnic destination in Kollam, attract hordes of tourists every year. It is a must visit destination and an ideal locale for spending the evenings.
Thangassery is a place of historical importance situated 5 kms. away from Kollam town. The churches here are pretty old, having been established in the 18th century. The chief attraction of the place is the light house, built in 1902. The 144 ft. light house stands as a sentinel, warning seamen of the treacherous reefs of Thangassery. Thangassery was an enclave of the Portuguese, Dutch and British in succession. The remnants of the Portuguese and Dutch forts still exits.
The southern gateway to the alluring backwaters of Kerala, Ashtamudi derives its name from its eight branches or channels. With a unique wetland ecosystem, Ashtamudi is second only to the Vembanad in terms of its size and beauty. The backwater cruise from Kollam to Alappuzha along the 61km long lake is regarded to be the best backwater cruise in Kerala.
Alumkadavu located at 26 Kms from Kollam City and on the lakeside of Kollam-Alappuzha National Water Way. The scenic beauty of blue green stretches of serene back water and rambling gardens of hundreds of coconut palms give the Green Channel Resort an incomparable beauty. Alumkadavu is where the first houseboats in India were built.
Amritapuri is the realisation of the ancient Indian ideal “the whole world is one family” (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). Amritapuri Ashram as it is known is an international pilgrimage centre for those searching for solace, inspiration and inner peace.