Kollam is a typical small Keralan market town, nestled amongst coconut palms and cashew tree plantations on the edge of the Ashtamudi Lake, with old wooden houses whose red-tiled roofs overhang winding streets. If you are coming up from the south, it is also the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. The trip by boat to Alappuzha (Alleppy) through these backwaters is a unique and fascinating experience. At Thangasseri, only 3 km from the centre of town, stands the ruins of a fort as well as there are a number of churches. In Ashtamudi Lake, there are Chinese fishing nets.



Backwater Boat Trip : This trip to Alappuzha (Alleppey) is one of the highlights of a visit to Kerala. It takes you across shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with cantilevered Chinese fishin nets, and along narrow shady canals where coir, copra and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. It is interesting to see how people live on narrow spits of land only a few metres wide, practically surrounded by water, and still manage to keep cows, ducks and cultivate small vegetable gardens. On the more open stretches of canal, you will see dugouts with huge sails and prows carved into the shape of dragons. There is a normal state ferry from Kollam to Alappuzha. Also from the same jetty is a State Water Transport Tourist Service boat which leaves Kollam daily. There is another tourist boat operated by the Alleppey Tourism Development Co-op. Society which has its office in the Hotel Sea Bee, just up the road from the jetty in Kollam. They have departures from Kollam to Alappuzha and the trip takes 8 hours. One point of interest on the backwater trip is the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission at Amritapuri. VARKALA Only 19 km south of Kollam and 55 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, the seaside resort of Varkala boasts a mineral-water spring on the beach and the Jarnardhana Temple.

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