She was extolled by the great Sir John Mandeville in his Travels as the 'Fountain of Youth.' She was a leading trade capital of the old world from the days of the Phoenicians and Ancient Rome. All her adornments, the captivating backwaters, the cashew trees and spices persuaded explorers like Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta to rave about her in glowing terms. Kollam, anglicised as Quilon, an old sea port town on the Arabian coast is in the Kollam district of Kerala.
About thirty percent of this historic town is embraced by Ashtamudi Lake. This lake, which has eight channels or arms (hence the name Ashtamudi; Ashta means eight and mudi means coned), is the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. One of the most enticing experiences you wouldn't want to miss in Kerala is the eight-hour long extraordinary backwater cruise from Kollam to Alappuzha that will give you an intimate experience of the backwaters of Kerala.
Cashew and coir are the two other names for which Kollam is famous. Both form the major source of employment for the people in rural Kollam. It is the hub of India's cashew trading industry. For the rural womenfolk of Kollam, who manually peel and sort cashews into different categories by size, it is a means for livelihood.
For the people living by the side of the backwater, coir making is the primary occupation. A cruise along the backwaters will give you pleasing visuals of villages engaged in the manufacturing of coir. The womenfolk and the weaving wheels work intimately to fabricate one of the strongest cords in the world. Coconut fibre extracted from coconut husks is used in the making of coir. In the hands of master craftsmen this raw and rough coir is given magical textures and are turned into a number of products like mats and beds.
With all its boons and bounties including the lakes, the sea, plains, mountains, rivers, streams, backwaters, forests, vast green fields and tropical crop of every variety, Kollam can rightly be called a miniature Kerala.