Kollam is an old sea port town that had a sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Pliny (23-79 AD) mentions about Greek ships anchored at Nelkanda identified with Quilon or Kollam (then under the Pandyan rule). The rulers of Kollam (Desinganadu) had trade relations with China and exchanged embassies. According to the records of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD to 913 AD) (Reference: Travancore Manual, page 244), Quilon was their chief port of call and was given the name ‘Mahlai’ by them. The Chinese trade decreased about 900 AD and was again revived in the 13th century. Chinnakada, (China-kada), the city center, was so named after the Chinese merchants. The increase in commercial activity resulted in establishment of flourishing Chinese settlement at Kollam.
Merchant Soleyman of Siraf in Persia visited Malabar in the middle of the 9th century and found Quilon to be the only port in India touched by the huge Chinese ships on their way from Canton to the Persian Gulf.
Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller, who was in Chinese service under Kublai Khan visited Kollam in 1293 A.D. on his return trip from China to Venice. He found Christians and Jews living in Coilum (Kollam). He also found merchants from China and Arabia. He has given a detailed account of Kollam in his writings which are reproduced in the Travancore Manual.
According to Ibn Batuta, Kollam was one of the five ports, which he had seen in the course of his travels, in the 14th century.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading center at Kollam in 1502. Then came the Dutch followed by the British in 1795. The remnants of the Dutch forts can be found at Thangasseri. Velu Thampi Dalawa of Travancore, worked towards the improvement of the Kollam town. He helped build new markets and invited merchants and traders from Madras (now Chennai) and Tirunelveli to set up trade in Kollam. Kollam, to this day has a thriving business in cashewnuts, coir and spices.
How to reach
Railway : The district is covered by 132 kms of railway line, of which 51 kms are broad gauge and 81 kms, metre gauge. There are 22 railway stations of which 9 are on broad gauge line and 13 on the metre gauge line. Kollam is an important railway junction. The Trivandrum – Ernakulam (via Kottayam and Alappuzha) line passes through Kollam. Kollam is the terminal junction of Madras – Egmore – Kollam metre gauge line.
Roads: Kollam has a total 1552.096 kms of roads. The National Highway 47 covers a distance of 57.4 kms in the district. The State Highway consists of Main Central Road, Kollam-Shencottah Road and Punalur-Pala-Muvattupuzha (Main Eastern Highway) with a total length of 266.52 kms networking the district.
Kottarakkara kathakali Museum-24km
Matha Amritananda Mayi Mutt-38 km
Punalur Hanging Bridge-46km
Kollam is a charming old seaport town in Kerala, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, renowned for the natural beauty of its lakes, backwaters, beaches, mountains, planes, forests, places of historical importance and the tempting tastes of its naturally grown and organically processed cashew nuts. Kollam. The Cashew City is dotted with traditional and modern cashew processing plants all over the district and it exports cashew worth Rs.15, 000 million every year. Kollam is linked by rail, road and backwater transport is situated just 65kms from international airport in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, and is only 140kms from Kochi from where it is also accessible by backwaters. The entire trip from Cochin to Thiruvananthapuram via Kollam can now be conducted by waterways. Enjoy a ride on the tusker at Paravoor or Konni
Meet the most interactive society in Kerala, mix with them, experience the culture of traditional Kerala society, visit the most hospitable families in Kollam and enjoy lunch or dinner served in banana leaf in the typical Kerala style. You will take back with you warm memories that will live with you as long as you do and your grand children would be thrilled to learn how you spent time in an exotic land called Kollam on the southern most tip of the Hemisphere
The place is known to the world for its famous Cashew processing industry, spices and marine products. Accommodation facility at Kollam ranges from budget hotels to house boats and from home stays to the luxury hotels.
The society at Kollam is interactive from top to bottom and has historically been welcoming to tourists. You are encouraged to visit the traditional households in Kollam and share a classy meal served on banana leaf in the typical Kerala style with them. When you are in Kollam, never miss your chance to make friends with the traditional fishermen who venture out into the high seas every day in their catamaran. Or share some happy moments with the people who are born and brought up deep inside the forest and live with the nature in the jungle even today. Also know the people who have preserved their tradition of folklore and folk arts intact even to this day. To have a pleasant break, have a sojourn inside tropical rain forest at Thenmala range in Western Ghats. Or take a cruise to an all new experience at the ever welcoming Ashtamudi Backwaters. Meet a bunch of interesting people who are made for nature and love a rustic life. Or just sit back and savour a performance of classical Kathakali all night through. Kollam is a kaleidoscope of remarkable places and people to keep your spirits high. The reasons to visit Kollam are many.
At Thenmala mountain region there are the following adventure activities available between 9.00am to 5.30pm on all days to pep up your visit to Kollam:
NATURE TRAIL, TREKKING,MOUNTAIN BIKING, RECREATIONAL ROCK CLIMBING, RAPPELLING, RIVER CROSSING, VALLEY CROSSING, TRUST FALL, SPIDER NET, PEDAL BOATING, JUNGLE CAMPING, BIRD WATCHING,AND BOATING IN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY.
NIGHT CAMPING IN TENTS IS ORGANISED BY THE AUTHORITIES AS PER REQUEST
Places of importance
Matha Amritananda Mayi Mutt,Thenmala Ecotourism, Paravoor Elephant Ride, Jatayu Para, Karunagappally, Kottarakkara, Mayyanad, Neendakara, Oachira, Palaruvi Water Falls, Thirumullavaram Beach, Punalur, Sasthamcotta, Thangassery, Achencoil, Alumkadavu
Matha Amrithanathamayi Mutt
The residence and headquarters of Matha Amrithanandmayi Devi is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikkavu which is 25kms from Kollam Town. The ashram is accessible both by road and boat
Thenmala, on NH 208, an eco-tourism centre, 65Kms to the east of Kollam is situated at Aryankavu pass, a thickly wooded mountain pass in Western Ghats with an average elevation of approx. 600Ft above MSL. Explore Thenmala, as you like it, on foot, if you prefer a rendezvous in the arena of nature or in the comfort and security of a motor vehicle or by boat in the Thenmala Reservoir, to see for yourself how one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world sustain one of the richest floral areas of the world. You may go counting the royal trees “Shenduruney”, inside the wild life sanctuary, bearing the same name, to provide your share in forest conservation
Paravoor Elephant Ride
Safely perched on the back of an elephant, have a ride through the verdant country, Paravoor to the South of Kollam,. A local tourism entrepreneur offers opportunities to have fun filled close interactions with tamed elephants under the supervision of trained mahouts. A little bit of boating in the Paravoor backwaters to meet the native inland fishermen and to gain a first hand information on the flourishing cottage industry of coir making is worth while.
The Paravoor Estuary, one of the most beautiful backwater estuaries of the world is where the Paravoor back water rubs shoulder with the Arabian Sea.
A huge rock at Chadayamangalam acquires its name from the mythical bird Jatayu in the epic Ramayana. It is believed that Jatayu, the legendary vulture king of Ramayana fell delimbed here after a stiff fight with Ravana who stole Sita Devi, Rama’s Queen
Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple
Situated in the midst of the Western Ghats, Sabarimala is South India’s largest pilgrim centre. The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is renowned as a symbol of love, equality and devotion. A pilgrimage to the holy place is often combined with visits to Kulathupuzha, Aryancauve and Achencoil Temples in Kollam District.
Much have been said and volumes have been written about the beauty of the world renowned Ashtamudi Back water system, a placid waterscape spread across a large area of Kollam and literally means 8 locks of hair for its eight branches extending deep into the country side making the land very fertile with the aluvial soil and also allowing easy access to the district by inland water ways besides gifting an abundance of tasty fresh water fishes .The eight hour long enchantment offered by the Backwater Boat Cruise from Kollam to Alappuzha is an experience beyond description and is the prime attraction among the International Tourists
A number of green islets cut out by a maze of canals at the place where the Kallada river empties herself into the Ashtamudi lake, Monroe is easily accessible by rail, road and inland water way in less than one hour from Kollam town. The people at Mundroe island create golden fiber out of the coconut husks, a tradition handed down by the generations, besides netting the rich aquatic life from the dug-outs that rule the canals at Mandrothuruthu.
Palaruvi Water Falls
300 ft high cascading Palaruvi waterfalls, 4 Kms deep inside the ever green tropical rain forest, near Aryankavu approx.18Kms from Thenmala, Achancoil/Kottavasal.
Achencoil and Kottavasal ranges, beautifully clad with dense tropical evergreen forest, shola forest and sub-tropical grass lands are truly an awe inspiring sight to any nature lover. At Achencoil one can go for a soft trek to Khumbhavurutty waterfalls through the forest tract. The Sree Sastha temple on the banks of the Achencoil river and surrounded by the woods is visited by thousands of pilgrims from far and near places.
Kottukal Rock-cut Cave Temple and Jadayupara near Chadayamangalam and Kulathupuzha near Thenmala are other attractions at Thenmala.
Thangassery: Just 5 KMs from Kollam town center is where the Portuguese, Dutch and British in succession established their trade centers and colonies. The remnants of the Old Portuguese fort and the century old 144ft tall and still working light house built by British are the chief attractions
Thirumullavaram Beach: one can see sea urchins and other fishes on the rocks in a walkable distance from the shore when the tide is out and can also witness one of the wonders of Nature in the form of a fresh water lake next to the Sea. Sastha temple at Sasthamkottah, Parahbrahma temple at Oachira, Alumkadavu boat building yard, Ayiramthengu Mangroves, Police Museum, Kottarakkara Kathakali Museum etc. are other attractions here. A not-so-crowded serene beach approx. 6kms towards north of Kollam town, offers a safe beach for swimming in shallow waters of a calm sea.
Varkala: It is only a matter of approx. 35kms towards south by road or even less by rail, to the world renowned beautiful beach resort of Varkala; a small but romantic beach bordered with high Warkalite stone cliffs embedded with marine fossils and sourcing out perennial fresh water. Varkala offers good ayurvedic and yoga centers.The ancient Janardhana Swamy temple, one of the oldest temples of Kerala and the Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala, founded by the great philosopher, reformer Sri Narayana Guru Swamy, The Padmatheertham (The holy water) springing out of the cliff near the Janardhana Swamy Temple and flowing into the temple tank believed to have cleansing and healing powers are worth visiting.
Konni: One and a half hour drive by road towards north east from Kollam, is the village of Konni on the foot hills of Western Ghats where you can visit the elephant camp or follow the elephant trail in the forest from Vellamthetti near Pathanapuram to Achencoil on an elephant back to get the feel and elephant’s eye view of the alluring forests. A little further off, Chembanaruvi, awaits you with her excellent camp sites by the river side, with plenty of fire wood around to keep the Bonfire burning all night long. If you prefer a different direction altogether, go for a photo shoot at Karimanthodu in Konni Reserve Forest, where the monsoons are celebrated with much enthusiasm by the inhabitants of the wilderness.