Kollam – The Gateway of Kerala Backwaters
Introducing Kollam (Quilon)
Kollam (known to the Portuguese as Quilon and pronounced Koy-Lon) is a municipal corporation in the district of Kollam in the Indian state of Kerala. It lies 71 kilometers north of the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram (originally Trivandrum), with Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta its north. Tamil Nadu is in the east and Arabian Sea to its west. The city is very famous for coir manufacturing and cashew processing. It is Southern Gateway to Kerala Backwaters. It is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in South India.
Former name of the city was “Desinganadu”. Kollam was the main center of trade during the Travancore Kingdom. Extolled by Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo in glowing terms, Kollam, as a famous post of Malabar Coast, was once an international center of the spice trade. 30% of the city is covered by Ashtamudi Lake.
History of Kollam
Kollam is known by several names that frequently changed with the time such as Desinganadu, Quilon, Mahlai, Kollam, and Caulao. From the days of Romans and the Phoenicians, this seaport city has had a great commercial reputation. According to Ibn Battuta, Quilon was one of the 5 main seaports dealing in trade with China.
The Malayalam Era named after Kollam began in 824 AD. It was called “Kolla Varsham” due to the significance of Kollam in 9th century AD. It signified the independence of Malabar from Cheraman Perumals. Merchant Soleyman of Persia visited Quilon in the middle of 9th century. He found the city to be the only harbor touched by huge ships from China on their way from the Persian Gulf to Canton.
According to the Tang Dynasty’s record, Kollam was their main port of trade and was known as “Mahlai”. Marco Polo, who visited the court of Kublai Khan in China, travelled through Kollam on his return journey to Venice and gave an interesting explanation of the thriving port of Kollam and its trade with China. Chinnakada or China-Kada was the city center and named after the merchants from China. The increase in trade resulted in the establishment of prosperous Chinese settlement at Quilon.
Portuguese were the first Europeans who established their trading center at Thangasseri in Kollam in 1502. Then came the Dutch followed by the British in 1795. British stationed their garrisons in Kollam in pursuance of an agreement between the British and Travancore.
During the rule of Velu Thampi Dalawa, the town experienced many changes. Several new bazaars were built that invited the traders from Thirunelveli and Madras to settle here. Later on, Kollam became the capital city of the liberal and enlightened rulers of Desinganadu.
Kollam’s later history is interwoven with the English, Dutch and Portuguese rivalry for the control of trade routes of Indian Ocean and the adjacent commodities.
Geographical Location of Kollam
The geographical coordinates for Kollam are 9.28'45° N Latitude and 76.28'0° E Longitude. The district covers an area of 2,492 km². It ranks 7th in the state of Kerala with respect to area. The two main rivers that flow through the district of Kollam are Ithikkara and Kallada. The district, physiographically, comprises of 3 natural divisions namely the lowland (bordering the sea coast), the midland (consist of low hills and valleys) and the highland (mainly forests). The total elevation of Kollam is 19.2 meter (63 ft).
Climate of the City
Kollam has a tropical humid climate with seasonal rainfall, cool winter, and oppressive summer. The location of Arabian Sea to the west influences the climate of Kollam. The average temperature of the district is 28.5oC. Summers begin in March and remain until May. Kollam receives an average rainfall of 2555 mm annually. On average, June is the wettest month whereas February is the driest month. The best time to visit Kollam is from November to March.
Demographics, People, and Culture of Kollam
Kollam has the total population of 2,635,375 with 1,246,968 males and 1,388,407 females. 9.65% of the total population is between 0-6 years of age.
Kollam has a sex ratio of 1113 females per 1000 males. Literacy rate of the district is 93.77%. The male literacy rate is 96.09% and the female literacy rate is 92.31%.
2 important aspects of the culture of Kollam are dance and music, due to which musical and dance events are organized throughout the year. Kathakali and Kaiottikali, ancient dance forms are very popular here. Other dance forms popular in the region are, Ottamthullal and Koothu. Folk music performances such as Vadakkan Pattukal, Kalyana Pattukal, Thekkan Pattukal and Mappila Pattukal are commonly practiced in Kollam. Sopanasangeetham, a classical form of singing is very popular in the city. Kollam was once a prominent center for culture and learning. It attracted notable scholars from several parts of South India. Unnuneeli Sandesam and Leelathilakam are the 2 literary works of historical importance.
Economic Status of Kollam
The economy of Kollam is mainly dependent on agriculture. About 70% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture. Paddy, coconut, pepper, tapioca, and rubber are some of the major crops grown here. Coconut gardens extend to about 75,500 hectares. About 343 million coconuts are produced every year. There is a Palm Oil Plantation at Bharatheepuram, in an area of about 4000 hectares. It is a state government undertaking. The Rehabilitation Plantations is another State Government undertaking located at Kulathupuzha in Thenmala.
Kollam is quite important for business and trade in Kerala. It is the center for cashew trading and processing industry in India. Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) is the largest producer of cashew nuts in the world. KSCDC has 34 factories in the region and provides employment to over 26,000 people. The district is an important hub for the marine product industry as well. Fishing has a prominent place in the economy. Sakthikulangara and Neendakara villages thrive in fishing.
Many commercial institutions in Kollam include:
Transportation in the district includes an elaborate network of paved and well-maintained roads, railway tracks including meter gauge, broad gauge and navigable waterways. Public transport systems in Kollam comprises of yellow top taxi, auto cars, and private cars.
A well-organized transport system in the district makes it easy for tourists to travel here with ease.
Kollam is well connected to other cities in the state via national highways. These are-
The State Highway viz., Main Central Road and Main Eastern Highway namelyPunalur-Pathanamthitta-Muvattupuzha connects Kollam to other districts. Transport is provided by KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) and private transport bus operators.
Kollam Junction is the main railway station is considered to be one of the biggest and busiest railway stations in Kerala after Palakkad and Shoranur. The district is covered by 132 kilometers of railway tracks. 81 km of the track is meter gauge and 51 km is the broad gauge. Kollam is the terminal junction for Kollam - Chenkotta meter gauge line.
Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest international airport located approximately 71 km from Kollam city.
Water transport in the city is a viable means of commuting. State Water Transport Department (SWTD) operates the boat services to Alappuzha, West Kallada, and Munroe Island. Alappuzha boat service attracts a lot of tourist.
Kollam and Sports
Kollam is represented by cricket, hockey and football teams in the district, state and zonal level tournaments. Several sports stadiums are there in the city that host events like Santosh Trophy, Ranji Trophy, and National Games.
Some sports stadiums and clubs are mentioned below:
Prominent Marketplaces in Kollam
Kollam is a delightful place for shopping. Apart from scenic beauty, the city is renowned for its vibrant markets and plush malls. It has wonderful streets lined-up with the glitter of local production. Weekends are the best time to visit markets and local streets for shopping. People do beach shopping around Kollam. The famous markets in the city are-
Popular Shopping Malls in the City-
Places of Tourist Interest in Kollam
Kollam is heaven for the tourists as the place is adorned with natural beauty and heritage. It has several beaches, backwaters, brackish lagoons and serene lakes, temples, architectures etc. Kollam is among the most famous Ayurveda centers in the southern regions of the India.
Some of the places of tourist interest are mentioned here:
Beaches in Kollam
Healthcare and Medical Facilities in Kollam
The city is occupied with several super specialty and multispecialty hospitals and medical centers that offer quality treatment facilities.
Ayurvedic Hospitals and Medical Centers
Education Facilities in Kollam
The educational institutes in Kollam are capable of providing quality education to students and prepare them to compete at any level.
List of Notable Schools
List of Colleges in Kollam
Employment Opportunities in Kollam
Kollam offers plenty of job opportunities in public and private sectors.
Public Sector Units in Kollam
Private Sector Units in Kollam
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