Placid lakes with beautiful and luxurious houseboats, lush green-fringed palms rippling on the emerald green waters and Chinese fishing nets, all make Kollam an ideal destination for the tourists.
Kollam, formerly known as Quilon, is an old seaport town on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake with places mired deep in history. It was regarded by Ibn Batuta as one of the finest five ports he had ever seen. Quilon has maintained a commercial reputation from ancient times. Phoenicians, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese traded with this port. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading centre at Kollam, followed by the Dutch and the English. Velu Thampy, the Dalawa of Travancore, did much for the improvement of Kollam town. He built new bazaars and invited merchants from Madras and Thirunelveli to settle there. Kollam later became the capital of the enlightened and liberal rulers of Desinganadu.
Considering the ever increasing demand of 'Backwater Tourism', the Kollam District Tourism Council has introduced several steps to promote Kollam as a gateway to the languid backwaters of Kerala. Places of interest include Thangassery, a fishing port, 5 km away from Kollam. Palaruvi, 5 km from Ariankavu has a beautiful 300 feet silver cascade. Ochira temple is an important pilgrim centre.
The Matha Amruthanandamayi Ashram at Vallikkavu, the residence and headquarters of Sri Matha Amrithanandamayi Devi, one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of India also offers solace to the spiritually-inclined travelers.
Mayyanad, 10 km south of Quilon, is also noted for its shrines and temples. There are about nine temples here and the most noted among them is the one at Umayanalloor, dedicated to Lord Subramanya. The shrine is said to have been consecrated by Sree Sankaracharya. The Ananda Valleswaram temple attracts people on almost all days.
There are also several churches and mosques in and around Kollam. One of the oldest and most important mosques in the town is the Chirmakkada Palli.
Mahatma Gandhi beach and park, Thirumullavaram beach and Ashramam Picnic Village are some of the most important spots for sightseeing. The Sasthankotta Lake, the only freshwater lake in the state, is here. It is estimated that around 45,000 tourists visit Kollam every season to enjoy the backwater cruises.