There comes a point in everyone’s life, when the mind says enough is enough, time to cut loose from the daily routine of four walls and take a break. And what could be more rejuvenating to the mind than the balmy touch of Mother Nature herself. Immerse yourself in healing colors of blues and greens, back up with the mesmerizing colors of golden sunsets out in the open. Welcome to Ashtamudi Lake in Gods own Country!
Kollam, or Quilon as its old name goes, is a city settled on the banks of this huge lake, second only to Vembanad Lake in Kerala. Ashtamudi Lake is shaped like a palm leaf and supplied by 8 creeks, and with a surface area of 61.4 sq km and a maximum depth of 21 feet, this spectacular lake is the most visited lake and backwaters in Kerala. With the increasing tourist footfalls, both local and international, the number of hotels in Kollam has gone up, with The Raviz topping the list of being one of the best hotels to enjoy the lake at close range.
This lake is also known as the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala and famous for its houseboat cruises amid the backwater canals lined by towering coconut groves with tiny villages and towns peeping through. A visit to Ashtamudi is incomplete without a boat ride to enjoy its true essence; you can opt for the 2hours, 4hours or the romantic overnight houseboat cruises that take you all the way to the city of Alappuzha. There are numerous mysterious–looking islands strewn amid the lake that beckon you to come take a closer look. Munroe Island is the largest and is made up of 8 islands that are worth exploring. Others include the rustic Thekkumbhagom Island which has an ancient 1000-year-old temple as well as a 200-year-old church set amidst its enchanting natural beauty.
The lake empties out into the Neendakara estuary that is a paradise for water birds and birders alike. There are numerous beaches around to relax and enjoy the rising or setting sun in; the Mahatma Gandhi Beach as well as the Thirumullavaram beach located nearby makes great getaways from the daily humdrum of life. The Ashramam Picnic village located on the edge of the backwaters is a must-visit with its park, museum as well as a 200-year-old guest house that was used by Lord Munroe, is great for recreational activities for the whole family.
Other places to visit include Thangasseri village where you will find the ancient ruins of a Portuguese Fort built in 1517, churches built in the 18nth century and a 144 feet high lighthouse built in 1902. The 300 feet high Palaruvi waterfalls (also known as ‘milky stream’), Parappara dam as well as the Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary are a short drive away into the greenery. It’s hard to believe, but Shenduruny was one of the oldest river village civilizations dating back to 4,400-3,700 BC, even older the Indus valley civilization.
Getting to Ashtamudi is easy as there is an airport located a 75km breezy drive away on the newly constructed highway as well as great interconnecting roads and a railway junction in Kollam. The best times to visit are in the beginning and ending months of the year.