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Kollam

Kollam at a Glance

 Area 2579 sq km

Population 23,98,285

Factories

Kerala Ceramics Kundara

Aluminium Industries

Travancore Chemicals

Kerala Minerals and Metals

No. of   Panchayaths 71

                 An ancient seaport town dating back to the 9th century A.D., Kollam (the Malayalam name for Quilon) has given its name to the Malayalam era Kollavarsham, which began in 825 A.D. and is said to be calculated from the date of the founding of this town. That year Persian immigrants set up a township in Quilon and built a church there, having received a charter of privileges from the Raja of Venad.According to one historical view, in that year King Udaya Marthanda Varma of Venad convened at Kollam a grand assembly of Kerala’s learned men in order to introduce a new era which, the assembly resolved, would be adopted from the first Chingam (Malayalam month) of the year.

              In Quilon, over the centuries, merchants from all over the world gathered and contributed to the city’s reputation as a centre of a flourishing mercantile community. This is borne out by the testimonies of Arab, Chinese Jewish and European travellers (Marco Polo, amongst others). It was also in Quilon that in 1330 A.D. Friar Jordams was consecrated Bishop of the first Roman Catholic See in India.

               The town’s commercial importance led the Portuguese to set up a factory here in 1502. This passed into the hands of the Dutch in 1661 and later, in 1795, to the British. Today the red-tiled roofs that dot Quilon’s low skyline is a reminder of the architectural influences of the Dutch and British villas. Further, the Chinese fishing nets along the Ashtamudi Lake are testimony to trade links with China.

              Today this town, which is 71 km from Trivandrum, is fairly important for the state’s trade and commerce and is the centre of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry. It is also an important hub for the state’s marine products industry, with the port of Neendakara being the centre for travellers and ice plants.

                  A particularly picturesque town standing on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake ("the lake with eight creeks"), Quilon’s contemporary fame among today’s travellers is as the inviting gateway to Kerala’s exceedingly beautiful backwaters. The long 8-hour boat trip from Quilon to Alleppey is the best and most comprehensive introduction to the delights of Kerala’s backwaters, as the journey meanders through lakes, canals and waterbound villages. The famous ‘Cheen Vala’ or Chinese fishing nets can also be seen along the backwaters.

                 As a typical southern Kerala town, Quilon offers a tranquil, rural atmosphere, punctuated by the bustle of trade and commerce in its many busy and crowded market streets and junctions. On the outskirts of the town are cashewnut processing factories. Next to the Government Guest House at Asramam, 3 km away from the central bus stand, is an Adventure Park which delights children. The Quilon District Tourism Promotion Council organises backwater cruises from there and, during the season, conducted cruises to Alleppey.

                There is a beach with a small park at Quilon, popular as an evening retreat for the locals.

                On the route to Shenkottah, 70 km from Quilon, is Ariankavu which holds a shrine devoted to Lord Sastha. The main festival of this temple is in December. Five km from Ariankavu is the waterfall at Palaruvi at a height of 300 feet. There are frequent buses to Ariankavu and at Palaruvi there is a PWD Inspection Bunglaw where rooms are sometimes available.

                On the same route, 64 km from Quilon, Kulathupuzha is in the forest range and is famous for a similar shrine. The most important temple festival here is the Vishu Mahotsava in April/May.

               Mayyanad, a small town about 10 km south of Quilon, is known for its 9 temples, the most famous of which is the shrine of Lord Subramanya, said to have been consecrated by Sri Sankaracharya.

               A very important pilgrim centre 34 km north of Quilon, Oachira is famed for its ‘Oachira Kalli’ festival in mid-June.

               Sasthamkotta, Kerala’s largest freshwater lake, is 29 km from Quilon and on the right bank of the Kallada river. This is a small town with a temple dedicated to Lord Sastha. An hour’s bus ride from Quilon, Sasthamkotta has a PWD Rest House where accomodation is available.

               Five km and a 15 minute bus trip from Quilon town, Thangassery is historically important, as becomes evident by the ruins of the Portuguese/Dutch fort there as well as the 18th Century church. The 3-km long beach has a lighthouse which is open to visitors between 3.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.

               Thirumullavaram, just 6 km north of the town centre and easily reached by bus, is a beautiful and quiet little beach ideal for swimming or lying in the sun.

               The Quilon District Tourism Promotion Council, which functions from the Government Guest House at Asramam, arranges on request a one-day city tour by coach for a group of ten or more persons. For larger groups the Council will arrange a backwater cruise to Alleppey.    

             The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport, 71 km away. From Trivandrum there are several KSRTC buses which go to Quilon and beyond. Quilon Junction is an important railway station in the Southern Railways network in Kerala and connects the city to almost all important centres in the rest of the country. Cochin is about 156 km north of Quilon and takes 3 to 4 hours by train. There are also metre-guage trains from Quilon to Madras via Madurai which offer a rather different and interestingly scenic journey. A Tourist Information Counter functions at the railway station. Quilon is also an important transit point for buses on the NH 47 highway from Trivandrum to the northern towns of Kerala. Buses are frequent and fares reasonable. The trip to Trivandrum takes under two hours and to Cochin, about 4 hours. The boat jetty is adjacent to the KSRTC central bus stand, about 3 km away from the Railway Station. There are daily ferry services through the scenic backwaters to Alleppey (10.30 a.m. departure for the 8-hour trip) and more frequent ones to smaller destinations, viz, Guhanadapuram (one-hour journey) and Muthiraparamb (2 hour journey). For local transport one can use private and KSRTC buses, tourist taxis and autorickshaws.

Distances to some important destinations

Bangalore : 657 km

Calicut : 372 km

Cochin : 150 km

Coimbatore : 364 km

Idukki : 239 km

Kanyakumari : 160 km

Kodaikkanal : 331 km

Kottayam : 106 km

Madras : 663 km

Mysore : 574 km

Ooty : 449 km

Sabarimala : 177 km

Trivandrum : 71 km 

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