26th April 2014
Great explorers such as Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta set foot in Kollam, the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala, India. It was a major port of the international spice trade. And it’s a major destination in Kerala for those who want to immerse even deeper in the backwaters.
From Varkala, we proceeded to Lake Ashtamudi for a lunch cruise around the lake and more views of the famous backwaters of Kerala. We saw some traditional fishing villages along the way.
Our lunch cruise was hosted by WelcomHotel Raviz Kollam, a fantastic resort by the shores of the lake. We were welcomed upon our arrival by drums, Kathakali performers and an elephant! Our boat was a larger version of the kettuvallam boat with an air-conditioned function room plus an upper deck for beautiful views of Lake Ashtamudi and the local color and culture.
Waiting for us on the upper deck was a sumptuous spread of local dishes which they served with Indian beers and wines. Yes, India has its own red and white wine.
The backwaters are a cultural landscape filled with coconut trees. Every now and then, colorful fishing boats jump out of the continuous fabric of trees, sky and water.
As our boat moved around the lake, we were also introduced to cheena vala or Chinese fishing nets brought in by Chinese merchants. They were all over the place and are a common sight in Kerala.
Different species of birds are also seen around the lake.
We made our way back at the resort to catch a Vallam Kali, a traditional Kerala boat race that was happening right in front of the hotel.
From the lake, we proceeded to Kollam Beach. We spent the night at the Quilon Beach Hotel. The next morning, I was too tired to get up to take photos of the fishermen pulling their nets. But I got a great view from my room anyway.