Kollam: The City of Cashewnuts and Houseboats
The port city of Quilon or Kollam on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake has emerged as the centre of the cashew industry in the country. But Kollam has always been a major trading town. The Phoenicians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Chinese were regular visitors to the port and the descriptions by Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta and other bear testimony to Kollam's importance in the trading community of the world. Traces of its once-prosperous trade with China can be seen from the Chinese fishing nets, huge Chinese water pots, blue and white porcelain and sampan-like boats.
Kollam is often regarded as the gateway to Kerala's backwaters. All you need to do is take the regular ferry to Alappuzha from Kollam, and you will be able to see the backwaters in full glory.
If you are holidaying with children at Kollam, take a trip to the Adventure Park at Asramam, next to the Government Guest House. At Asramam, there is the Sri Krishna Swami Temple festival and the main festival there is the Kollam Pooram or the Asramam Festival, which attracts tourists.
If history is your subject of interest, the Kollam Police Museum, India's first and only police museum, is a must on your itinerary. The other important historical place is Thangasseri, just five km from Kollam city. Thangasseri was an enclave of the Portuguese, Dutch and British and the remnants of the Portuguese and Dutch forts still exist. The place also has a 45-metre high lighthouse A bit away from the city on the backwaters route is another bit of history: the Thevalli Palace located on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake. The hub of Kerala's houseboat industry is located at Karunagappalli in Alumkadavu, 35 km from Kollam. And if you seem to be missing the beach at Kollam, there is the Thirumullavaram Beach, located 6 km away from the city and an ideal place for swimming and bathing.
Further down at Sasthamkotta, 26 km away from Kollam city and on the banks of the Kallada river is the temple of Lord Sastha. A Ganapathi Temple, 25 km away from the city at Kottarakkara is a must-visit for Kathakali enthusiasts for it is believed that the dance form was born at this place. The temple is also famous for Kottarakkara Unniappam, a sweet which is dedicated to the deity and later served to devotees. At Kottarakkara, there is the Kottarakkara Thamburan Kathakali Museum, a memorial to Kottarakkara Thamburan, the father of Kathakali. In addition, the museum has a varied collection of ornaments worn for the dance, rare musical instruments, sculptures, models depicting the other classical dance forms and a lot more.
At Kottukkal, on the Kollam-Kottarakkara-Anchal-Kottukkal route, stop by to see the Kottukkal Rock Temple. The place is also famous for Ayurveda and the Kottukkal Farm, a short distance from Anchal town, has huge coconut plantation, medicinal herbs and rare medicinal plants in its gardens.
Kollam also has a small hill station in Thenmala, 70 km from the city, where tourists can trek and boat in the lake. Nearby is the Thenmala Deer Park and the 5000-year-old Rock Shelters near the Thenmala Police Station. The Shendaruni Wildlife Sanctuary is also 70 km away from Kollam and provides ample scope for trekking in the forests. Further away is Ariyankavu, another pleasant hill station, and home of the Bordilon Teak Plantation, which was the first to start using a teak stump instead of a teak plant in1891. Near Ariyankavu is the Palaruvi Waterfall, which looks like flowing milk.
Reaching Kollam: The nearest airport is the Thiruvananthapuram International and Domestic Airport 76 km away from the city. Kollam is connected to most Indian cities and is on the railway routes. The city's main station is Kollam Junction.
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