Mukkada Bazaar is a series of parallel streets with spice warehouses, metal merchants, rope makers... all busy loading and unloading their goods on brilliantly decorated trucks. It's a hive of activity and well worth exploring.
This colourful market is just to the west of the Mukkada Bazaar and features shops with nicely organised and colourful fruit and veg displays plus trucks (and even auto-rickshaws) fully laden with bananas. Well worth a visit.
This is an unusual shaped building with a small shrine in the middle that embraces a Hindu style of worship within a Christian setting. This is because it is dedicated to a patron saint from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
As we neared Kollam, and so neared the end of our Backwaters Tour, we passed by this rather surprising and revealing statue of the Goddess of Light on Ashtamudi Lake. She's bearing quite a lot to the world!
I had seen these Chinese fishing nets in Kochi and thought they were only to be found there, so it was a big surprise to see them along the river in the Backwaters. We went past a whole load of them, in a line either side of us, as we passed by some kind of power station (great place to put one, by the way!) and then there were more as we neared Kollam which were being used as it was early evening and the sun was going down. Here, they seem to leave the nets in for a long time before raising them which is different to how they fish in Kochi as, there, they drop and raise the nets between 250 and 350 times a day!
I did my Backwaters Tour from Alappuzha (Alleppey) to Kollam and it was a fabulous day out. We left Alappuzha at about 10am and made our way south past lush vegetation of coconut trees and palm trees and people crossing the river on small ferries and coracles. Daily life all revolves around water as there's so much of it so you get to see people washing clothes and themselves, fishing, and transporting goods. We stopped for lunch at a very simple looking place where we were served veg curry, rice, samosa and fish on a banana leaf and then set off again passing by more of the same.
We then came to a series of Chinese fishing nets which were in a line either side of us, as we passed by some kind of power station (great place to put one, by the way!) and then there were more as we neared Kollam which were being used as it was early evening and the sun was going down. Here, they seem to leave the nets in for a long time before raising them which is different to how they fish in Kochi as, there, they drop and raise the nets between 250 and 350 times a day! We then reached Kollam, past the rather revealing Goddess of Light statue, at about 6:30pm. The trip cost Rs300 in February 2007.
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.
(6 km north of Kollam town): This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre and has frequent bus connections to the town.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(64 km 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.
( 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 damsite.
(70 km 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 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.
(5 km from Kollam town): 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 - 1730 hrs. There are buses at 15 minute intervals from Kollam town.
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.
Kottukal Rock Cut Cave Temple (11 km from Chadayamangalam):
This temple situated on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam MC Road is an idyllic example of rock cut temple architecture.
Ashtamudi Lake :
Ashtamudi Lake (Ashtamudi Kayal) in the is the second largest and deepest wetland ecosystem, a palm-shaped (also called octopus-shaped) large water body, next only to the Vembanad estuary ecosystem of the state. Ashtamudi means 'eight branches' (Ashta = 'eight'; mudi = 'branch') in the local language of Malayalam. This name is indicative of the lake's topography: a lake with multiple branches. The lake is also called the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Ashtamudi Wetland was included in the list of wetlands of international importance.
Ashtamudi lake is fresh water lake having eigh channels.There are boats to cruise on the lake which is provided by Kollam boat club. Kollam was once the port of internationall spice trade so famous chinese fishing (cheena vala) nets are seen here.
Kerala is the land of Coconuts, and they have central role in Hindu religious practices. They are offered to the gods, and, for example, smashed on the ground as part of launching building projects, facilities or ship.
Kerala's ancient, extra-ordinary geographical situation has remained unchanged for many centuries. It is a labyrinth of waterways and lagoons, surrounded by palm trees and friendly people who live there.
You'll probably pass by this small cemetery with a small chapel when you get off/on the tour boat to go along the Backwaters as it's along the small road that leads to the lake.
We watched peddlers in small canoes moving from canal to lake, to lagoon, to canal, vending their wares from house to house.
Our little boat whispers through calm waters, along shallow lakes with shorelines thickly wooded with coconut palms.