Kollam is a coastal city on the banks of the Ashtamudi lake that took on the title God’s Own Country. AshtamudiLake is the southern gateway to the backwaters of Kerala and is a prominent tourist destination at Kollam.
The braids ofAshtamudiLake makes Kollam a haven of backwaters and was a prominent city of trade for the state. An ancient trading town, with historical citations of trade dating back to Biblical history and the reign of Solomon , the city supported internal trade which occurred through the Punalur Pass connecting the ancient town to Tamil Nadu on road and over waterways connecting Allepey and Cochin. The rail links established to Tamil Nadu supported firmer trade links. The marine exports processing factories and the processing and packaging of cashewnuts took the produce of these shores across the globe.
About 37 km south-west of Kollam city, is Varkala is a coastal town and the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is also referred by geologists as the Varkala Formation. Varkala is also famous for the Janardana Swami Temple, 2,000-year old and an important Vaishnavaite shrine, often referred to as Dakshin Kashi . The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre.
Kollam is also known for cashew processing and coir manufacturing. Kollam appears as Palombe in Mandeville’s Travels, where he claimed it contained a Fountain of Youth. During later stages of the rule of the Chera monarchy in Kerala, Kollam emerged as the focal point of trade and politics. Kollam continues to be a major business and commercial centre in the central Travancore region of Kerala.
Two major rivers in the district are Kallada and Ithikkara. Kallada River empties into Ashtamudi lake while Ithikkara River to Paravur Kayal. Jadayuppara, Palaruvi waterfalls are also important geographical attractions of the Kollam district.