When God was making the district of Kollam, he must have been in a particularly good mood! This is because Kollam is one of the most beautifully endowed districts in Kerala, the state of India that’s often referred to as “Gods own Country’! Sapphire skies, blue-green seas, dense emerald vegetation, plantation covered hills, enthralling lakes and rivers, serene backwaters and palms gracefully swaying to the mystical music of some ancient dance, that’s what captures the minds of the person traveling to Kerala for the very first time.
In Kollam, the sprawling Ashtamudi Lake is one of the main centers of attraction for the tourists; it is supplied by eight channels and stretches for almost 16km. It has numerous backwater channels that connect it to Alappuzha, also known as the Venice of India. A houseboat ride (known as ‘Kettuvalam’) is a must to really experience close hand all that the lake has to offer. The numerous islands in the lake, the exotic birds and butterflies and the beautiful greenery as you gently glide by on the boat make for an unforgettable memory. And then there are the amazing sunsets over the placid lake waters that leave a person with a hole in their soul, pining for some distant dream. Kollam city is based on the right bank of this lake. Kollam is considered one of the cleanest and most peaceful cities of India; this is aside from its centuries-old history of being an ancient trading port during the Phoenician and Roman era. It’s even believed that it was here that seafarers first set foot in India! Today, it is a major exporter of Cashews, fishes, coconuts, coir products and spices. The National Geographic Traveler has assigned Kerala as India’s most verdant state and one of the world's 50 ‘must see’ destinations.
Another lake that should be on the itinerary for those visiting the Ashtamudi Lake is the remarkably beautiful Paravur Lake with its splendid estuary. Paravur town is located just about 20km away from Kollam city and offers an enchanting view of the backwaters as well as the sea, which are located on both sides of the land. This narrow strip of land placed in between the languid backwaters and the sapphire sea, is one of the most enchanting and peaceful places in southern Kerala, attracting a large number of tourists. Paravur is also famous for its large concentration of ancient temples.
Paravur is a land of beaches, backwaters, and estuaries. Its landmass is surrounded on three sides by water bodies, by the Paravur Lake, Nadayara Lake, and the Arabian Sea. It makes for an enchanting sight and you end up thinking how lucky the inhabitants of Paravur are to be living in the lap of nature’s best luxuries.
Poothakulam Poothakulam is a beautiful backwater village located near Paravur in Kollam district and is blessed with a vast expanse of backwaters and lush greenery. A boat ride in these scenic backwaters will lead you back to Ashtamudi Lake as they are all interconnected by channels. This village has a rich cultural heritage of producing countless Kathakali dancers. It’s also famous for its elephant rides.
Though the Paravur Lake is small, with an area of just 6.62km, it is the draining point of the Ithikkara river and finally ends up as an estuary. The Paravur estuaries are a group of scenic and eye-catching estuaries in Paravur town. The varieties of water birds here make it a birders paradise. Almost 600 hectares of land is considered as Wetland area and rich in flora and fauna. During the summer season, a sand bar forms along the coast, separating the sea from the backwaters; however, come monsoon season and the sand bar gets eroded away again. An artificial tidal regulator was built in 1957 to control saltwater intrusion into the Paravur Lake as its waters are used by the inhabitants living in its surroundings.
The estuaries can be reached by the Kollam-Paravur coastal road and also by the railway station in Paravur for those coming by train. Trivandrum International Airport, which is just about 70km from Kollam city, is an ideal way for those coming by air. Though there are many hotels in this area, the only five-star hotel available here is the Raviz hotel, and it’s located on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake.