There is something about Kerala that draws the eyes; the colors here are more vibrant and alive and everything seems to be colored in jewel hues. A riot of blues and greens is what comes to mind when we think of Ashtamudi. The vast body of blue-green waters that make up the Ashtamudi Lake along which the town of Ashtamudi is settled is a piece of paradise and you wonder whether the local inhabitants know how fortunate they are to be living there!
At the Ashtamudi Lake, the sunrise is a sight to behold as the first golden rays of light filter through the ghostly layers of mist that settle over the lake waters at night. The amazing chirping of a variety of water birds, some which are local and some which are migrant, wake you up to another beautiful morning over the lake. You can watch the birds diving in for their breakfast while the small fishing boats glide over the serene waters starting off their early morning routines. The huge Chinese nets stand out like mystical beacons of old, standing guard over the lakes’ waters.
The best way to enjoy Astamudi is with a houseboat ride where you can get up close to nature in a very personal way, undisturbed by any elements, save the beautiful birds. There are several small islands in this lake most of which are inhabited by farmers and fisher folks; their simple ways of living haven’t changed much over the years and you can get a taste of rural life there as they welcome tourists with open hearts and welcoming smiles.
The lake itself is very interesting as it derives its name from the eight channels through which it is fed; the word ‘ashta’ means eight while ‘mudi’ means head, thus making it the eight tentacles of an octopus or the shape of a palm frond. The lake stretches for about 16km and forms the gateway of the world-famous Kerala backwaters. Mangrove forests as well as numerous fruit trees and the omnipresent coconut trees abound on the banks of this lake. Its waters drain off into the Neendakara estuary, which is home to thousands of water birds throughout the year.
Kollam city is located on the banks of the lake and was a historically significant trading center for over more than a millennium and evidence of the various countries influence through which trade was conducted still exist today. Even the cuisine is an amalgamation of foreign influences on the local diet. A famous dish of this area is the ‘Karimeen polichathu’, which is basically spiced pearl spot fish wrapped in a banana leaf and braised. This taste buds tantalizing delicious dish should be tried out at least once in a lifetime! And once you have tried it, you will never forget it, it’s that awesome! Numerous beautiful palm-fringed beaches surrounding this area add to the allure of making this a must-travel to destination.
Getting to Ashtamudi is very easy as the Trivandrum International airport is just an easy 70km drive away, while the railway station is hardly 3kms away from the lake area. Kollam is well connected by the highway too so getting there is easy. Book into any of the numerous hotels available and enjoy the surrounding beauty!