A tourist heaven famous for its Ashtamudi Lake, cashew & coir industries, surrounded by backwaters and lakes, mentioned in Greek literature from the first century, Kollam has been a thriving trading port for centuries best Known for Ashtamudi Lake. The surrounding region produces pepper (after which the city is named), cashews, coir and other agricultural products. Local communities include Christian, Muslim and Hindu peoples. A historical Chinese population is known to exist, and the town’s market is still named after them. Fishing occurs right along the coast as in other parts of Kerala. West and slightly north of the town some 5 kilometres lies a beach, on the north end of which are various European colonial-era relics, including the ruins of a fort and a few churches. There are also some old colonial buildings scattered about the town proper.

Ashtamudi Lake in the Kollam is the most visited backwater and lake in the state. It possesses a unique wetland ecosystem and a large palm-shaped (also described as octopus-shaped) water body, second only in size to the Vembanad estuary ecosystem of the state. Ashtamudi means ‘eight coned’ in the local Malayalam language. The name is indicative of the lake’s topography with its multiple branches. The lake is also called the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala and is well known for its houseboat and backwater resorts. Ashtamudi Wetland was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands. Luxury houseboat in the backwaters Along both banks of the lake and its backwater canals, coconut groves and palm trees interspersed with towns and villages are seen. Kollam, (formerly Quilon) is an important historic port city located on the right bank of the lake. Boat cruises are operated by the Kollam Boat Club from Kollam to Alappuzha providing transport access to many other towns and villages along this route. Luxury houseboats also operate on the lake. The boat journey is an 8-hour trip, winds through lakes, canals and water bound villages, and gives complete exposure to the beauty of the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake. Chinese fishing nets, called cheena vala in Malayalam, are used by local fisherman and are a common sight along the waterway. The lake and the city of Kollam on its banks and the Neendakara port at the confluence offer a means of transport for the state’s trade and commerce in the cashew trading and processing industry as well as the marine products industry. The lake is the source of livelihood for people living close by from fishing, coconut husk retting for coir production and inland navigation services. The lake and the life on its shores have inspired many artists and writers. It has been the subject of many poems by the renowned poet Thirunalloor Karunakaran who was born and brought up on its banks.

Amritapuri Ashram Amma was born in a poor fishing village in Kerala, Southern India, in 1953. Her father sold fish to make a living. Her mother relates that the child wasn’t born crying as babies usually are, but with a beaming smile on Her face. She was given the name Sudhamani (Ambrosial Jewel). Even as a small child, it was clear that She was unique. At six months She could walk and talk, and by the age of three, She was constantly singing. By the age of five, She was composing beautiful, extraordinarily profound hymns to Her beloved Krishna. Sudhamani charmed and delighted everyone around Her. But as She grew, Her divine moods, including frequent meditative states, singing, and ecstatic dancing beside the seashore, began to annoy Her family. At the early age of five Sudhamani was already subjected to severe scoldings. When Sudhamani was nine, Her mother became ill. Although Sudhamani was the brightest girl in Her class, She had to leave school and take care of Her entire family. It was a gruelling task, with seven brothers and sisters to feed and clothe, and animals to tend. She virtually became the family servant, working from before dawn till midnight. As part of Her work, She had to collect food for the family cows. She would roam the local villages, gathering grass and visiting neighbourhood homes to ask for vegetable peels and leftover rice gruel for the cows. At times like these, She saw many things that troubled Her. She saw how some people were starving, while others had more than enough. She saw that many people were sick and suffering from intense pain, unable to afford a single painkiller. And She noticed that many of the elderly were neglected and treated harshly by their own families. Her empathy was such that the pain of others was unbearable to Her. Though just a child, She began to contemplate the question of suffering. She asked Herself, why do people suffer? What is the underlying cause of suffering? And so powerfully did She feel the presence of God within Her that She wanted to reach out and comfort and uplift those who were less fortunate than She. In many ways, it was then that Amma’s mission began. She would share Her food with the starving, and She would bathe and clothe the elderly who had no one to look after them. She was punished when She gave away the family’s food and belongings to the poor, but Sudhamani would not stop Her acts of kindness. She took refuge in the solitude of the night, spending hours meditating and fervently praying to Lord Krishna.

During the day She carried his photo in Her blouse pocket and constantly sang His names. During Her early teens, Sudhamani was sent to the houses of relatives where She laboured for long hours, taking care of their households as well. Throughout all her duties She was incessantly singing and chanting Krishna’s name, and imagined that all the work she did was for him. Sweeping the yard, she imagined that he could arrive at any moment. As she prepared food she imagined that Krishna would appear as a guest at the table. In this way, she never resented her duties, nor the abuse her family gave her, but only prayed to be given more of the Lord’s work.

Thangassery Church Ruins Tangasseri was associated with the Chinese trade from the first millennium AD and later colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British to become the “gold village”. According to Historians, Captain Rodriguez came to Quilon and was appointed as the captain of the factory and trade, with permission from the queen. St.Thomas Fort was built by the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque for the protection of the newly developed trade. In 1505 the Portuguese established a trading port here, and in 1518 established its sovereignty through the construction of Fort St. Thomas. Later in 1661 the town and the fort were handed over to the Dutch who made it the capital of Dutch Malabar. The Dutch occupied the fort for several years. In 1795, the British East India Company took possession of the fort. In 1823 Fort St. Thomas accepted a lease by Travancore from the British Government for a period of twenty years.

Fort St. Thomas was originally around 20 feet (6.1 m) tall. Today, the remains of the fort, popularly known as “Tangasseri fort” remain facing the beach. The government of India has taken over the fort and it is being considered an historical landmark. Restoration of the fort is ongoing. At present, the fort is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Tangassery Cathedral Infant Jesus Cathedral Church stands imposingly tall in the annals of Indian Church history. It dates back to as early as the thirteenth century, when Kollam went through Christian Renaissance, under the able leadership of Fr. Jordanus Catalani, who was helped by both the Franciscan and the Dominican missionaries. They were instrumental in winning back the lay Christians who were influenced by the Nestorian heresy, back to the Roman Latin rite. Eventually, Pope John XXII instituted Asia’s first ever diocese in Kollam in 1329. It was Fr. Jordanus Catalani who built this Church for the first time. Back then, it was called ‘San Salvador’ Church (Church of the Holy Redeemer). It was renovated in 1548 by a Portuguese engineer Hector De La Casa.

13 arch bridge (13 Kannara bridge) Pathimoonnu Kannara Palam” very beautiful sight, The bridge which was constructed during the British regime using surki construction, A period when cement was not in use. The bridge with its 13 arches still holds strong one of India’s oldest mountain rails (Meter Guage) which once used to be the main trade route between Quilon and Tirunelveli. The Rail ride itself is a pleasant experience as the trains passes through dense forests, long tunnels and steeps and slopes.

Paravur The lakes and sea coast of Paravur attract visitors and foreigners with the main attraction the interconnection of Paravur Kayal (lake) and the Arabian Sea. Paravur lies 21 kilometres (13 mi) from Kollam by road and can be reached within 15 minutes 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) by train from Kollam Junction. It is a blessed land of the estuary, beaches and backwaters, Famous for its coir production centre and fishing.

Sasthamcotta The place is naturally beautiful and is surrounded by hills and valleys. In the midst of the hills is the Fresh Water Lake. The extensive freshwater lake here is the biggest of its kind in Kerala. Water supply to the Kollam town is met by purifying the water from this lake.

Thangassery Lighthouse is situated at Tangasseri in Kollam city. It is one of two lighthouses in the Kollam Metropolitan Area and is maintained by the Chennai Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships. In operation since 1902, the cylindrical lighthouse tower painted with white and red oblique bands has a height of 41 metres (135 feet), making it the tallest lighthouse on the Kerala Coast. Tangasseri Lighthouse is one of the most visited lighthouses in Kerala. Prior to construction of the lighthouse, the British East India company had installed a tower with an oil lamp. In 1902 they commissioned Tangasseri Lighthouse, which by 1930 had suffered cracks in the tower that required jacketing masonry to be installed. The light source was modified in 1932, 1940, 1962, 1967, 1990 and 1994.