Quaint Quilon Calls
Kerala’s famed backwaters and houseboats enjoy a great deal of stardom. But whenever you think of backwaters, it’s Alleppey that comes to your mind right? Ask a few more people and they will also tell you about Kumarakom, an island on Vembanad lake just opposite to Alleppey. But I may not be in the mind of most travel lovers. My backwaters are much less polluted and much more serene. I am Quilon and let me take you on a short trip to my place.
I lie on the banks of Ashtamudi lake in Kerala. I’m now better known by the name Kollam. People make me a pitstop to enjoy an 8-hour long boat ride through the backwaters to Alleppey. There are government-operated boats between Alleppey and me. Your 8-hour journey will be packed with lively scenes of the coconut groves, fishermen at work, birds – lots of them from all over the world. It will start at 10:30 am and have two breaks – for lunch and for evening tea. Imagine slowly gliding through the animated backwaters of Kerala. The slow pace of the boat will give you the real experience of the laid-back life here. People here are so close to nature. They wake up early in the morning, go fishing at the dawn, and unwind after the sunset. Just like the birds.
While that’s a beautiful experience, there are many things to do in and around me. Let me share some highlights with you in my letter.
Sail to Munroe island
Okay, my star neighbor may not like it, but why don’t you just ditch Alleppey on this trip. Instead, sail to Munroe island. The tranquil island is a hidden pearl of the Kallada River. Colonel John Munroe of the former princely state of Travancore discovered this island he then supervised the digging of canals leading to it. The best time to visit Munroe island is during the Onam festivities in September. You can experience the famous Kallada boat race here then.
Also known as the Mahatma Gandhi Beach, Kollam beach is located right across the city. There is a beautiful park across the beach beside the Tangassari lighthouse, clocktower, and also a marine aquarium here. Families will love spending time at my beach.
Explore the Tangasseri village
Just 5 km off the city center lies a beach village called Tangasseri. When you enter the village today you may not realize that it was a modern trade center long before the Europeans invaded India. Tangasseri was always a town of importance because of its trade association with China. The Portuguese came here, then the Dutch, then the British. They all left, but the original inhabitant remained and continued with their simple lives. You will love the sight of churches, and beaches, and ruins of the 16th century in the village.
Also known as St. Thomas Fort was built long ago in 1518 by the Portuguese. After the Portuguese, the Dutch conquered this fort in 1661. They made it the capital of the Dutch Malabar. Then came the British East India company in the late 18th century. In 1795, they defeated them all and captured the fort. The royals of Travancore had leased the fort in the 19th century from the British.
Well, it’s now a mere shadow of what it used to be, a feeble one at that. What you see are ruins but ruins are of great beauty sometimes. The ruins of Tangasseri Fort overlooking the Arabian sea is a sight to cherish.
So that was a small tour of Quilon for you. Did you enjoy it? If you did, don’t forget to save the postcard so that you can plan a trip later. For now, just share this letter with your friends so that they too can come to me on their next trip to Kerala. Stay home and take care of yourself – the storm will be over soon.
This is not a travel guide. This is just an introduction to the pristine natural beauty of Quilon. This post is a part of the series “Postcards from India“, written for the A2Z Blogging Challenge by Blogchatter for April 2020. I am writing about offbeat destinations in India, which you can visit once the lockdown is over. The historical information of Tangasseri is from Wikipedia.