Kollam, often referred to as Quilon, is a picturesque coastal town in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Nestled along the serene Arabian Sea and embraced by the majestic Western Ghats, Kollam is renowned for its stunning backwaters. These backwaters are an integral part of Kerala’s natural beauty, offering travelers a tranquil and immersive experience in “God’s Own Country.” In this article, we will delve into the charm of Kollam Backwaters, their location, attractions, and why they are a must-visit destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst nature.
Location and Geography
Kollam Backwaters are situated in the Kollam district of Kerala, approximately 70 kilometers north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The backwaters encompass a vast network of interconnected lakes, rivers, canals, and lagoons. The most prominent water bodies within the Kollam Backwaters include Ashtamudi Lake, Munroe Island, Sasthamkotta Lake, and Paravur Lake. Ashtamudi Lake, in particular, is the second-largest lake in Kerala and forms the heart of the Kollam Backwaters.
Attractions and Activities
Houseboat Cruises: Houseboat tours are the most popular way to explore the Kollam Backwaters. These traditional Kettuvallams are well-equipped with modern amenities, offering a comfortable and immersive experience. Cruising along the serene waters allows you to witness the picturesque landscapes, lush greenery, and local life along the banks.
Ashtamudi Lake: Ashtamudi Lake is the centerpiece of Kollam Backwaters. The lake’s name, which means “eight coned,” refers to its complex network of channels. It is a haven for birdwatchers, offering opportunities to spot various avian species, including kingfishers, egrets, and cormorants.
Munroe Island: Munroe Island is an enchanting destination within the Kollam Backwaters. It is named after Colonel John Munroe, the British Resident of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. The island is known for its lush mangrove forests, narrow canals, and scenic beauty. Visitors can explore Munroe Island by canoe or kayak, witnessing the tranquility of its waterways.
Sasthamkotta Lake: Sasthamkotta Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Kerala, is situated just a short distance from Kollam. The lake is known for its pristine waters, and it is a sacred site for Hindus. Boating and picnicking are popular activities at Sasthamkotta Lake.
Paravur Lake: Paravur Lake is another significant water body in the region. It is an ideal spot for birdwatching and boating. The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation and is home to a variety of aquatic life.
Fishing and Village Life: The backwaters play a vital role in the daily life of the local communities in Kollam. You can witness traditional fishing practices and the vibrant village life along the waterways. Many villages maintain their traditional customs and cultural heritage.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Kollam Backwaters is during the winter months, from October to March, when the weather is mild and dry. This period ensures a comfortable and enjoyable experience for outdoor activities and houseboat cruises. The monsoon season (June to September) may not be suitable for travel due to heavy rains.
Book Houseboats in Advance: If you plan to stay on a houseboat, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to secure your preferred accommodations.
Local Cuisine: Relish the local Kerala cuisine, especially fresh seafood and coconut-based dishes, at the numerous restaurants and eateries in Kollam.
Respect the Environment: To preserve the pristine beauty of Kollam Backwaters, dispose of waste responsibly and avoid disturbing the local flora and fauna.
Kollam Backwaters offer a serene and immersive experience amidst the natural beauty of Kerala. The picturesque landscapes, tranquil waters, and vibrant local life make this destination an essential stop for travelers exploring “God’s Own Country.” Whether you’re cruising on a houseboat, exploring Munroe Island, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the waterways, Kollam Backwaters promise an unforgettable journey through the heart of Kerala’s backwater wonders.