Eulogised by travellers such as Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta (who called it one of the leading trade capitals of the Old World), Kollam is where the famed network of waterways begins. The Ashtamudi Lake, known as the gateway to the backwaters, covers about 30 per cent of Kollam. From here, a 130 km long system of interlinked canals and lakes snakes up all the way to the north. Kollam is also regarded as the hub of cashew processing and the centre of the fisheries industry in Kerala. Moreover, over 2,000 factories and industrial units churning out products as diverse as coir, chemicals, ceramics, minerals and seafood make it the most industrialised district of the State.
Located on the northern backwater Kollam,near Karunagapally ,the famous kettuvalloms,or houseboats,are crafted here.Known as a boat building and Repairing centre,Alumkadavu is also popular as the ideal location to watch coir being made.
Mata Amritanadamayi Ashram:
Vallikavu,the birth place of the famous spiritual guru,mata Amritanandamayi,is now known as Amritapuri and is a beehive of activity as the Headquaters of the Amritanandamayi Trust.The 5- a cre plot holds a self-contained township that includes a post office, bank, library and charitable dispensary.
The many cruises organised by DTPC is t he finest way to explore these backwaters. The highlights of a one-day houseboat trip could include visits to Panmana Beach, a coir-making unit, and the houseboat-building yard at Alumkadavu. A day-night cruise entails a night stay on t he Ashtamudi Lake.
This temple has neither a structure to house an idol, nor an idol to worship. Ochira is dedicated to the formless, infinite ‘Para Brahma’, the Absolute and Supreme Principle.
The annual festival, Ochirakali, held during june-July, commemorates the historic battle between ..the Kayamkulam and Chempakasseri rajas.
This is one among the many temples in Kollam dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Theme pageantry or ocniraKaii monkeys that once colonised the surrounding woods were believed to be loyal followers of the ruling deity, Dharmasastha, and hence, are revered by devotees. A 10-day annual festival includes the colourful Kettukazhcha procession, various folk art performances and an elephant procession.
Located south of Kollam, Thangasseri, or `gold village’, was once the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency, thanks to the early European traders. This picturesque settlement has a chequered history, dating back to the 14″ century. The town’s 144-ft lighthouse, built by the British, dates back to 1519. Thangasseri celebrated its 500th anniversary in 1999.
Standing on a promontory in central Kollam, this palace overlooks the scenic Ashtamudi Lake and is best viewed from the lake itself. Built during the reign of Gauri Parvathi Bai, between 1811 and 1819, it was the residence of the erstwhile Maharaja during his visits to Kollam to meet the British Resident.
In Kerala, houseboats are known as kettuvalloms. Boats in a variety of shapes and sizes have traditionally been the chief mode of transport in the backwaters for men and I material since olden days. Thatched roof covers over wooden hulls, 100 ft in length, provided protection
from the elements. Over time, simple facilities were added to the boats used exclusively for travel. For the royalty, these boats even became comfortable living quarters. Later, tourism provided the necessary fillip in transforming the age-old kettuvalloms into veritable floating cottages with all the modern amenities. A day’s trip for a family with lunch and snacks would
cost about Rs 3,000.
Located in the midst of the backwaters of Ashramam, this village has an adventure park, boating club, children’s traffic park and a Yatri Nivas, all in its sprawling campus. The stately 200-year-old residence, once used by Lord Munroe, is now a government guest house. The Paaramparya Museum in the premises is also worth a look. On display are paintings from different parts of the country.
This green, palm-covered little island is tucked away in the backwaters of Kollam. The Stone Age tools and megaliths discovered here prove the island’s antiquity. Formed by the backwaters of the Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada River, it has been named after Colonel Munroe, the British resident of the erstwhile Travancore State. He is credited with having integrated several backwater regions through the construction of canals. Cruising along in a country-made craft, criss-crossing the mazelike canals, offers a glimpse of village life in all its pristine purity.
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