Kollam, located 71kms to the north of Thiruvanathapuram is another coastal district of Kerala. It is one of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast. Once Kollam was the port of international spice trade. Ashtamudi Lake, which covers one third of this place makes it gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala.
Kollam is an area, which is well known for the cashew plantation and cashew processing units. It is the main center of trading of this cash crop. It is also an important hub for the state's marine products industry, with Neendakara being the center of Trawlers and Ice Plants. For all its natural gifts of wide rivers, dominant hills and forests, lakes and plains, there is a throb of vibrant industrial activity that combines with equanimity, the wonders of modern age with the traces of bygone era.
Many a foreign traveller has visited Kollam in the early midieval period. It
was one of the early centres of Christian activity in Kerala.It is said that the present town of Kollam was built by the Syrian Merchant; Sapir Iso, in the 9th Century A.D. The popularity of Kollam has been established by the time honoured proverb once you see Kollam, you will not need your home any more. Kollam is an important commercial, industrial and trading centre. It is also the headquarters of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation.
Thangasseri - 5 km from Kollam
This seaside village of historic importance has the ruins of an Old Portuguese fort and churches built in the 18th century. The Thangasseri Lighthouse which is 144 , Feet high, is open to visitors from 1530 - I730 hrs. There are buses at 15 minute intervals from Kollam town.
Thirumullavaram Beach - 6km north of Kollam
This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic center and has frequent bus connections to the town.
Mayyanad - 10 km south of Kollam town.
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. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Mayyanad.
Sasthamkotta - 29 km from Kollam town.
This vast fresh water lake surrounded by hills on three sides is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha Temple which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. There are frequent bus services from Kollam. Accommodation is available at the PWD Rest House.
Ochira - 34 km north of Kollam town.
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. Ochira Kali in mid June and the twelve day Panthrandu vilakku (Twelve lamp festival) in November / December are the two main annual festivals. Ochira Kali is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the padanilam (battle field). They perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields, and splashing water in every direction. There are frequent buses from Kollam and Alappuzha.
Kulathupuzha - 64km from Kollam town.
Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram - Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha temple. The vishu 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.
Thenmala - 66 km east of Kollam.
The area is covered by dense forest, rubber and tea plantations. An Eco Tourism Development Project is under implementation here. Thenmala is also a dam site.
Ariankavu - 70km.from Kollam town.
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. There are frequent buses to Ariankavu from Kollam.
Palaruvi waterfalls - 75 km from Kollam town.
Palaruvi which means stream of milk makes its way down the rocks, from a height of 300 feet. The Palaruvi woods is a beautiful picnic spot. The PWD Inspection Bungalow and the KTDC Motel offer comfortable accommodation.
This temple which shows 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.
Matha Amrithanandamayi Ashram, Vallikavu
The residence and headquarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi Devi, is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu. The ashram is accessible both by road and boat.
This village located at Ashramam, along the backwater front, is the main centre of recreational activities in Kollam. A 200-year-old Government Guest House, an Adventure Park, a Tourist Boat Club, a Children's Traffic Park and a Yatri Nivas are all housed in this vast tourist complex.
Kottukal Rock Cut Cave Temple -11 km from
This temple situated on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam MC Road is an idyllic 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.
Situated 13 kms. south of Punalur, Anchal is known for its cattle market twice a month. The Mudi festival of the Bhagavathy temple here, conducted once every 12 years, attract huge gatherings.
Situated about 73 kms. east of Kollam, Aryankavu is one of the important pilgrim centres of the district. From every early days, it was an important trade route for merchants from either sides of the Western Ghats. The chief attraction of Aryankavu is the Shrine dedicated to Lord Sastha. The temple has some fine sculptures and mural paintings. Thousands of pilgrims flock to this temple during the mandala pooja and Thrikalyanam festivals in December. All trains towards Shencottah have a stop at Aryankavu. Buses plying between Kollam & Shencottah, also pass through this place. About 5 kms. away from Aryankavu there is a big waterfall known as palaruvi meaning river of milk. It is one of the well-known waterfalls in south India, falling from a height of 300 feet. It is sittuated 66 kms. from Kollam on Kollam-Shancottah road. The scenic beauty, with the hills, valleys and cascades, covered with dense tropical forests, is breath taking. Season to visit the place is June-January.
Kundara, a small town in the Kollam District, has bagged a seat for itself in the history of Indian Freedom Struggle, by being the Head Office of Veluthambi Dalawa.
The beautiful Mountains, Luxurious Forests and roadways boarded by plain trees make Punalur a Dram World. People say the Punalur owes its name to the "Funnel" is called "Punel" in Malayalam. Others say that Punnal's (water) "Uru' (place), Punalur derived its name from the rivers that Punalur is blessed with, Vettipuzha, Vattapudaharappan, Vellimanoor etc., to name a few.
Matherumannu, 15km away from Punalur was once famous as a mine of Mica. It was believed that the Mica got from this place was much better than the mica got from Assam.
The Punalur Bharanikavu Temple and Pattazhi Devi built hundreds of years age still reflect the traditional style of architecture, pomp and glory of their past. The Puthiyedath Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, Vazhamon Sive Temple and Punalur Thrikotheshwaram Siva Temple are the other places of worship in Punalur.
Chavara is situated 14 kms. north of Kollam om the
Kollam-Alappuzha road. Thousands of tonnes of mineral sand are exported from Chavara to various countries. The Koilthottam port is situated within the limits of Chavara panchayat. Four major industrial establishments - Indian Rare Earths, The Kerala Premopipe factory, Kerala Minerals and Metals and the Titanium complex - are at Chavara.
Karunagappally is situated 27 kms. north of Kollam. It is linked with Kollam by rail and road. There is a mini civil station at Karunagappally. Padayanarkulangara, which forms part of the town, was once the military station of the Kayamkulam Rajas. An idol of Buddha, recovered from a local tank here, is now preserved in the Krishnapuram Palace, situated north of Oachira. The town has a temple dedicated to Lord Siva, two old mosques and a Mar Thoma Church.
Kulathuppuzha is situated on the Thiruvananthapuram_Shancottah road and is 10 kms. south of Thenmala Railway Station. Kulathuppuzha is an importane forest range, well known for its elephants. Reed, an essential raw material for paper manufacture at Punalur Paper Mill, is partly supplied from Kulathuppuzha Valley. One of the renowned shrines dedicated to Lord Sastha, is found here and large crowds of pilgrims come for worship during festival seasons. The Vishnu Mahotsava in April-May is the most important festival here. Besides this shrine, there are also three mosques.
Situated about 8 kms. north of Kollam, Neendakara is the headquarters of the Indo-Norweigian Fisheries Community Project, which was established in 1953. The important institutions under this project are the boat building yard at Sakthikulangara, the Fisherman's Training Institute, the ice factory and the refrigeration plant. Improvements have been made to Neendakara Port, which has been thrown open to traffic.
Situated32 kms. north of Kollam-Alappuzha National Highway and on the boundary of Kollam district, Oachira is a unique pilgrim centre. The peculiarity of the template here is that there is no temple building as such nor is there any idol. All classes of people worship the presiding deity the Parabrahmam. Oachira drawns thousands of pilgrims for Oachirakkali, a festival held annualy in June. Another festival held here is Panthrandu Vilakku in November-December, which lasts for 12 days. The festival is also followed by a fair which attracts thousands of pilgrims from all walk of life. Oachira is also an important handicraft centre where fancy articles of screwpine mats are manufactured. Known also as Dekshina Kasi, buses passing through N.H. 47 stop at Oachira. Passenger trains stop at Oachira Railway Station.
Paravur is an important fishing and coir production centre. It is situated 13 kms. South of Kollam and is connected with Kollam town by road and rail. It is the birthplace of K.C. Kesava Pillai (1865-1913) and Kesava Asan (1869-1917), two leading literary men of eminence.
An important trading centre on the banks of the Kallada river, Pathanapuram is 13 kms. away from Punalur. The Chandanakkudam mahotsava of the mosque there, celebrated every year in February-March, attracts thousands of devotees.
Sasthamcottah is an attractive village situated about 19 kms. from Kollam town. It is a beauty spot, a health resort and a centre of pilgrimage. The extensive fresh water lake here, is said to be the biggest of its kind in Kerala. Water supply to the Kollam town is met by purifying the water from this lake. Buses are freqently operated to Sasthamcottah, which can truely be called as Queen of Lakes.
Thazhava in Oachira Block, is an important centre of screw-pine mat industry. An image of the Buddha, discovered from a tank known as Pallikkulam near Maruthookulangara, is one of the interesting archaeological, associated with Kollam district.
Jetayu Para, a huge rock, is another attraction in Kollam district. The huge rock is in the Chandayamangalam village on the M.C. road. The name comes from the epic Ramayana. It is believed that Jatayu, the giant bird in the epic, fell after failing in its attemt to stop Ravana from taking Sita away. The rock is ideal for trekking by the lover of adventure. The rock can be seen from the Chadayamangalam Jn. itself.