Exploring the Ashtamudi Backwaters, Kollam/Quilon, Kerala, India

By Prabhith Prabakaran

INCREDIBLE INDIA 

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”

– Sir Richard Burton

ROUTE MAP

Kollam (formerly known as Quilon), the coastal city located in the southern part of Kerala, is not a place flooded by tourists, and that is the precise reason why I decided to go for this trip.

It’s a great place to get off Kerala’s beaten tourist path for a couple of days if you want something a bit different.

Located 80 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam is famous for its beach, temples, backwaters and fishing harbours. 

This is one of the oldest port in the Arabian Sea. Once Kollam was a major commercial hub for Romans, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, British and so on. The Chinese connection gave the market place the name ”Chinnakada”. The Dutch and Portuguese left the remains of the forts and the churches. Kollam have a sizable Anglo-Indian population and these centers still maintain a unique culture and identity. I visited Kollam along with my Family in April 2018.

Allapuzha and Kumarakom is the most famous destinations for House boats, but over a period of time these 2 backwaters have been flooded with houseboats. In my personal opinion, these places have reached the saturation level.

That is where the importance of Kollam comes in. It’s indeed a great idea for the state to promote tourism in Kollam as this place already have all what the tourists demands.

There are beautiful beaches, Ashtamudi Backwaters house boat ride, Canoe ride (Mundrothuruthu) , Boating harbour and the list continues.

I can very well see that the Kollam district tourism is also doing a lot of steps to attract tourists. ‘Experience Kollam’, was the first of the district-level promotional campaign by state tourism department, which aimed to highlight the tourist destinations in Kollam.  This type of moves from districts are quite welcoming. Along with this, another major thing is to ensure the cleanliness of the tourist destinations. This is very important to bring in Tourists.

House Boat (Locally known as Kettuvallom):

House boats are boats that are authentic floating cottages offering all modern amenities, regardless of whether you choose a luxury boat. You can select a house boat according to your need and budget.

If you choose a one-day trip, the main attractions are the Panmana Beach, the yard for building houseboats at Alumkadavu, and a coir-making sector. You can even go for an 8-hour trip to Alappuzha through a cruise of the Kollam Boat Club. On this trip, you can explore water-bound hamlets, canals, and lakes; all exposing the backwaters’ charm in full sunlight.

Another alternative is a houseboat trip to Munroe island in the backwaters. We had personally gone for this package. We had hired a 2 Bedroom house boat for this service. For House boat enquiries, you can contact Jijo James @ +91 94472 11244

You will be taken from the Starting point and they will drop your near Mundrothuruthu(on request basis). They will also arrange a vehicle like Autorickshaw (Auto) to take you near Canoe. Once the canoe ride is completed, you will be dropped back to the same point from where it started. Again, you can take an Auto back to the house boat. The advantage here is that you can complete both Canoe ride and house boat on the same day (good for people who have only limited time in their itinerary)

Cruising along the tranquil waters of Ashtamudi Lake is definitely a memorable experience and one you shouldn’t miss!!!!

As we cruised along, we saw several water birds and plenty of kingfisher, many of them sitting in solitary contemplation, and what a sight they made.

On the banks of the river we saw people indulging in toddy tapping, coir making, fishing and even a couple of boats loaded with sands, probably headed to some construction site. There were also boats which were carrying smaller boats from one region to another.

Afternoon Lunch and Evening Snacks are prepared and served in the House Boat itself. On a typical scenario there will be 3 staffs in such a house boat. One person will be driving, the second will be the Cook and the Third would take of the services for the guests (like serving food)

Neendakara Port/Fishing Harbour:

The Neendakara is a famous fishing port, located 9 km north of Kollam district in Kerela. This major sea port is one of the biggest in the region, with the capacity to contain over 500 fishing boats at a time. The Neendakara Port offers an excellent view of the surroundings, from where the visitors can even watch the delightful sight of Ashtamudi Lake, converging into the vast sea.

Canoe Ride:

The Canoe ride in Mundrothuruthu was excellent. For people who have not experienced this type of rides, please try to include this in your itinerary. It’s worth the money.

Accomodation:

We stayed in Raviz Kollam.

There are many other options suiting all budgets available in Kollam and nearby places.

Nearby Places:

Paravur

Thangassery / Kollam Light House

Chavara

Kappil

Pallaruvi Water falls

Jatayu Earth center

Thenmala

Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary

How to Reach:

Flight ->  Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest

Railway -> Kollam Railway stand

Bus ->   KSRTC or the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has buses plying to and from Kollam at a regular frequency, connecting it to several places within Kerala

Route that we followed:

Instead of NH47, we decided to take the coastal highway to Trivandrum/Kazhakuttom.

Some stretch of road is not that great, but this journey takes you through some famous destinations in south Kerala like Kollam Beach, Paravur, Kappil, Varkala, Anchuthengu Fort/light house, Muthalapozhi Bridge, Maryanad Fishing harbour, Kovalam and so on.

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