Among the towns of Kerala, Kollam is second, only to Kodungallore in historic antiquity and was a renowned international emporium of trade of the ancient world. It was the capital of the powerful kingdom called ” VENAD” which came into prominence in the 9th century A.D. According to some historians, the Malayalam era called the “Kollam era” was established by King Udaya Marthanda Varma, King of Kollam in 825. A.D. In the earliest days Phoenicians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Chinese used to frequent the port. The descriptions by famed travellers like Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta, Sulyman of Siraf and others clearly highlighted the historical importance of Kollam as a commercial town
Kollam maintains this tradition even today and it is one the major industrial and commercial centres of Kerala. It is the nervecentre of Kerala’s cashew industry.
The sheltered recess of the calm Arbian sea “THIRUMULLAVARAM”, is an ideal place for swimming and bathing, and attracts domestic as well as international tourists. It is situated 5 K.M. from the town. Five Kilometres north of Kollam lies “THANKASSERY ” which was an enclave of the Portuguese, Dutch and British in succession. The remnants of the Portugese and Dutch forts still exist. The place is also well known for its 45 metre high light house. The centre of various tourism development activities is located in the “GUEST HOUSE COMPLEX” Asharam, where the District Tourism Promotion Council functions. The Government Guest House which was built by the Divan of erstwhile Travancore State CI.Munroe, in 1812, is even now a major attraction for its elegance and architectural beauty. This 48 acre complex on the banks of Ashtamudi lake is a naturalist’s delight with a variety of rare trees and shrubs. The Children’s Traffic Park, designed by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre ( NATPAC) is located in this complex and is the largest Traffic park In Kerala. Adventure Park which is also in this complex is a novel experiment. The young and the adventurous can try out their skills in various arts of physical prowess.
A full day onboard journey through the backwaters provide a unique opportunity to experience the natural life of Keralites and the scenic beauty of God’s own country. A large number of foreign tourists arrive at Kollam during the season ( November-March) for this 8 hrs long backwater cruise. Luxury boats of Government as well as private parties are operated from the main boat jetty during the season. Usually the trip starts at 10.30 am. and reaches Alleppy at 6.00 PM. A tourist information centre of District Tourism Promotion Council is functioning at the boat jetty area from 9 am. to 6 pm on all days except Sundays, to assist the tourists who arrive at the bus station and boat jetty area. Another Tourist Information Counter is also functioning at the Kollam Railway Station from 8.30 AM to 5 PM on all days except Sundays.
Seventy kms. away from Kollam on the Shencotta road is the pilgrim centre in the mountains “ARYANKAVU” . A temple dedicated to Lord Sastha which has some fine sculptures and mural paintings.
“PALARUVI” – Meaning River of Milk – One of the well known water falls in south India, is situated 66 kms. away from Kollam. The scenic beauty, complete with hills, valleys and cascades, covered with dense tropical forest, is breath taking.
“SASTHAMKOTTA” another beauty spot of Kerala, is situated 29 kms. from Kollam. With the vast fresh water lake spreading over the valleys of several hills, Sasthamkotta lake can truly be called the Queen of Lakes”.
A unique pilgrim centre “OACHIRA”, 32 kms from Kollam on the national high way, has a deep stamp of Advaita Philosophy. The presiding deity is the “Parabrahma”, the absolute reality, the great source of all forms and phenomena which cannot be symbolised by an idol or housed in a temple. Hence there is no temple or idol for the presiding deity here. The temple festival “Oachira Kali” held in June, is a crow pulling festival.
“JATAYUPAPRA” in Chadayamangalam on the M.C. road is a huge rock where, Jatayu, the giant bird in Ramayana fell after failing in its attempt to stop Ravana from taking Sita away. It attracts the adventure- loving and offers excellent prospects of an exhilarating hang-gliding experience. “KULATHUPUZHA” – Temple- on the banks of Kulathupuzha river has a large number of fish considered as sacred by the local people. “THENMALA DAM” which offers exciting opportunities for boating is 68 Kms east of Kollam.