Kollam, as opposed to Kovalam and Varkala, is quite the un-touristy town with an access to the famous backwaters of Kerala, Alleppey. One of the oldest ports of the Arabian Sea, Kollam was once a major trading hub for Roma, Chinese, Arab, and even the Portuguese, who came here lured by the area’s richness in spices and cashew crops. The central bit of the town is usually hectic like any other town but what surrounds the town is the beautiful and calm waterways of Ashtamudi Lake, decorated with coconut palms, cashew plantations, and traditional villages.
The best attraction or activity in the town is to explore the backwaters of Munroe Island. Although Alleppey is the winner hands down when it comes to attracting the maximum backwater crowd, but this is an equally great yet far from crowd experience for the ones who want to stay on the quitter side of the town.
There is a fish market at Kollam Beach where fishermen, sellers, and customers gather every day to bargain the value for the day’s catch!
Santhigiri Ayurveda Center (www.santhigiriashram.org) , the same as the one in Kovalam, located on Asramam Road provides rejuvenation massages starting INR 1000. They are quite famous for their 7 to 21 day treatment packages and provide accommodation for practitioners for INR 500 a night.
Another great experience to indulge in while you are here is the Canal cruise. DTPC – District Tourism Promotion Council, and a few private agencies as well, organize these wonderful canal tours through the canals of Munroe Island and across the Ashtamudi Lake. It is a 3 hour ride via punted canoe. During these tours, you can observe the daily lives of the villages that you cross – toddy tapping, prawn and fish farming, and coir-making. You can also indulge in some birdwatching experience during the spice-garden visits.
Kollam falls on the Trivandrum-Kollam-Alleppey-Ernakulum bus route. Buses depart frequently throughout the day. The KSRTC bi stand is located conveniently near the boat jetty. There are frequent ferry services across Ashtamudi Lake to Guhanandapuram. There are frequent trains operating between Ernakulum and Trivandrum via Varkala, and couple of trains ply between Alleppey and the town.