The gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala and center of the country's cashew trading and processing industry, Kollam offers investors lot of potential. The eight hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala.
So called because of its 8 arms or channels, Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. Located in Kollam District, this lake 16 km long and the second largest in Kerala, finds its way into the sea through the Neendakara estuary. The Kollam Boat-Club provides boat rides on the lake as well as houseboat cruises.
(1km from the city. Open 1000- 1800 hrs) Located in the sprawling 200-year-old Guest House campus where Lord Munroe once stayed, this tourist village at Ashramam along the backwater front, is the main center for recreational activities in Kellam. The place has a boat club, a children's traffic park and Yatri Nivas in addition to an adventure park. The Paaramparya Museum in the same premises has on display paintings from different parts of the country including Wadi, Kalamkari and Madhubani as well as Kerala mural art. Ph: 0474 - 2750322
(Open 0900 -1800 bison all days) The only such establishment in the country, it traces the history and development of the police force. On display are police arms of the 18'h and 19'h centuries and various other exhibits. The star attraction of the museum is the Martyr's Gallery. Ph: 0474-2742400
(5 km from Kollam) Thangasseri or 'Dutch Quilon as it was called was once a British enclave. Meaning 'gold village' in local parlance, this was the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency. This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an old portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century, The famed lighthouse ofThangasseri which is 144 ft high, constructed in 1519 by the British, is open to visitors from 1530 - 1730
(6 km north of Kollam. Open 0500 -1130 hrs, 1600 -2030 hrs) This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre. About one and a half kilometre
into the sea is the Nyarazhcha Para, literally Sunday Rock, that can be seen from the shore at low tide. And near the beach is a Mahavishnu Temple.
(8 km from Kollam) A famous fishing harbour, you can see the Ashtamudi Lake joining the sea from the Neendakara Bridge and also the Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against the sky.
(10 km south of Kollam) Mayyanad is noted for its shrines and temples. The most important of the nine temples here is the Subramanya Temple at Umayanallor. The shrine is said to have been consecrated by the great Hindu philosopher Sree Sankaracharya.
(27 km from kollam) Formed by the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River, this island is named after Colonel Munroe, the British Resident of erstwhile Travancore State. He is credited with having tntegrared several backwater regions by digging canals. The discovery of stone age tools and megaliths stand testimony to the antiquity of this islet which shelters a quaint little village. DTPC canal cruise packages: 0900 Hrs and 1400 Hrs - Fare: Rs.300 per head)
(27 km from Alumkadavu) This unique temple is dedicated to the infamous Duryodhana - the anti-hero in the epic Mahabharatha. As the legend goes, Duryodhana who went in pursuit of the Pandavas when tired, was given food and shelter by the kuravas a community of people. To this day, the priest at this temple hails from the kurava community.
(28 km north of Kollam) Located by the north Kollam Backwaters, the village of Alurnkadavu is filled with the earthy scent of coir and wood on water. The beginnings of boat building can be traced back to this place where every day except on Sundays, from 0800 to 1700 hrs, you can watch the kettuvalloms being constructed. One can also visit coir-making units and learn all about how rope is made.
(30 km from - Kollam. Open 0700 - 1900 brs) This church at Kallada dates back several centuries. A beam of wood, believed to be 700 years old, has a Muslim crescent, a Hindu symbol and the sign of the cross on it.
(29 km from Kallam town) The ancient Sastha Temple which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. The monkeys of Sasthamkotta that colonise the towering trees are believed to be the loyal followers of the ruling deity, the Dharma Sastha. Surrounded by hills on three sides is the vast freshwater lake of Sasthamkotta, the largest of its kind in KeraJa. Accommodation is available at the PWD Rest House.
(14km from Alumeadauu) The residence and headquarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu where she was born. Called Amma by devotees all over the world, she is recognised as an extraordinary spiritual leader by the United Nations and was honoured with the Gandhi-King Award for non-violence in 2002. Amrna has various ashrams under her aegis. The main ashram is at Vallikavu and is accessible both by road
and boat. Ph: 0476-2897578
(Open 0400 -1130 hrs, 1700 - 2030 hrs) Known for its twin temples, Cheriazhcekal is steeped in legends. The Sri Kashi Vishwanathar Temple is also known as the Deccan Kashi Temple, after the legend of the priest who installed the Sivalingam that he found in the Ganges at Cheriazheekal. But it is also believed that the place housed a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, built some 2,000 years ago. So today it is a temple for both Siva and Vishnu, and Mahasivaratri is celebrated annually for 10 days as grandly as the festivities that surround Sree Krishna Jayanthi. r
(34km north of Kollam) The unique feature of this famous pilgrim centre is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Parabrahma Temple dedicated to the Universal Consciousness. Also considered a Siva Kshetra, colourfully decorated Ochira bulls that symbolise Nandi - Siva's vehicle, are given as offerings at this temple. Ochi-rakali in mid-June and the twelve-day Panibrandu Vilakku (twelve lamp) festival in November!December are the two main annual festivals. Ochirakali is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the paclani/am (battle field), commemorating the historic battle fought between the Kayarnkularn and Chempakasseri soldiers.
(64km from Kollam) Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha Temple. The vishnu Mahotsavam in April/May is the most important festival. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha. The Thenmala Railway Station is just 10 km from here.
(70 km from Kollam) Situated on the Kollam - Shenkottai Road, Ariankavu is famous for the shrine dedicated to Sree Sastha, Mandala Pooja and Trikalyanam celebrated in the month of December are the main festivals here.
(75 km from Kallam: Open 0800 -1800 hrs) Palaruvi which means str-eam of milk makes its way down the rocks from a height of 300 ft. A much sought-after picnic spot, the scenic beauty of the place is enhanced by hills, valleys and waterfalls. The PWD Inspection Bungalow and the KTDC Motel offer comfortable accommodation. Trekking to the waterfalls and bathing in the river are the two main activities here.
One of the main temples of Lord Ayyappa, it is believed that the idol here is consecrated by Lord Parasurama himself. The temple is similar to the famous shrine at Sabarimala. The Manalar Falls and the Kumbuvurutty Falls, which also has a Nature Interaction Centre, are along the way to this temple.
This temple which shows a Pandyan influence in its design has inscriptions in Tamil, dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries. The Vyala monster sculptures in this temple give one the impression that the creatures are animate and actually climbing up the stairs with their outstretched paws. l
(11 km from Chadayamangalam) Situated on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam MC Road, this temple is a fine example of rock cut temple architecture.
A huge rock at Chadayamangalam takes its name from the mythical bird Jatayu in the epic Ramayana, who is believed to have collapsed on the rock after failing in his attempts to thwart Ravana's kidnapping of Sita.