Quilon (also Kollam) is situated in the southwest corner of India in the state of Kerala. The district is encircled by Alappuzha in the north, Pathanamthitta in the northeast, Thiruvananthapuram in the south, Tirunelveli (Tamilnadu) in the east, and the Arabian Sea in the west. It extends latitude 9°28' and longitude 76°17' north.
Quilon is an old seaport town on the Arabian coast and a great trade center of Kerala. It stands on the Ashtamudi Lake. The city has changed its name frequently and known as Desinganadu, Kollam, and Quilon at various points of time. It has sustained commercial reputation from the days of Phoenicians and the Romans. Ibn Batuta identified it as one of the five ports he saw in the time span of 24 years during his travel in India. The rulers of Quilon and China had diplomatic relations in the 14th century and they exchanged embassies with each other. There was a flourishing Chinese settlement at Quilon during that period. Great Venetian traveler Marco Polo visited the city in 1275 in his capacity as a Chinese Mandarin. From the beginning of 16th century, the Portuguese, Dutch, and British came in quick succession to establish trading centers at Quilon. British stationed a garrison at Quilon in pursuance of a treaty between Travancore and British in the 18th century.
Ashtamudi Craft and Art Festival of India is organized from December 26 to January 10 every year. The festival involves artists from all over the country. Different kinds of workshops, exhibitions, and demonstrations are organized during the festival to highlight the talent of the artists. The festival is organized at Asraman Maidan and the entry is free.
The climate is of tropical humid type with an oppressive summer and plenty of seasonal rainfall. The summer, lasting from March to May, is followed by the southwest monsoon from June to September. The northeast monsoon occurs from October to November. The rest of the year is generally dry.
Situated 71 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, the town of Quilon is a prosperous commercial hub. The town edges with the famous Ashtamudi Lake. It was one of the early centers of Christian activity in Kerala.
Thirteen kilometers south of Punalur is Anchal, known for its cattle market held twice a month. The Mudi festival of the Bhagavathy temple here, conducted once every 12 years, attract huge gatherings.
Achencoil is famous for its Sastha temple, which is situated amidst dense forests. The idol of Sastha is supposed to have been installed several centuries before the Christian era. The two important festivals of this temple are Mandala Puja (December-January) and the festival held at Ravathi (January-February). The most important features of the festival are the Therotam (Chariot festival) and Pushpabhishekam (offering of flowers). In no other temple of South India are flowers offered to the deity so lavishly as at Achencoil.
Aryankavu, situated about 73 km east of Kollam, is an important pilgrim center. The chief attraction of Aryankavu is the shrine dedicated to Lord Sastha. The temple has some fine sculptures and mural paintings. Thousands of pilgrims flock to this temple during the Mandala puja and Thrikalyanam festivals in December. The place is connected with trains and buses from the city of Quilon. A big waterfall, falling from a height of 300 feet, is situated around 5 km from Aryankavu. The fall is known as Palaruvi, which means river of milk. The scenic beauty, with the hills, valleys and cascades, covered with dense tropical forests, is breathtaking.
The town of Karunagappally, which has an idol of Buddha recovered from a local tank (now preserved in the Krishnapuram Palace), is situated 27 km north of Kollam. The city has a civil railway station at Karunagappally. Padayanarkulangara, which forms part of the town, was once the military station of the Kayamkulam Rajas. The town has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, two old mosques and a Mar Thomas Church.
Situated 27 km away from Quilon, Kottarakkara is linked with the former both by road and rail. The city that gave birth to the internationally renowned dance form of Kathakali was once the capital of Elayadathu Swarupam, a principality ruled by a branch of the Travancore royal family. Kottarakkara has a very old temple dedicated to Lord Ganapathy and a 700-year-old church belonging to Mar Thomas.
Ten kilometers south of Quilon is situated Mayyanad, noted for its shrines and temples. It is said that Shankaracharya of Kaladi constructed the most important temple of Mayyanad at Unayanalloor, dedicated to Lord Subramaniya. The city also takes pride in its three churches and a mosque. Mayyanad is the birthplace of C. V. Kunjuraman, one of the leading literary, social and political figures of modern Kerala.
A historical city, Thangassery is situated 5 km away from Quilon town. The city has old churches constructed in 18th century, a lighthouse built in 1902 with a height of 144 ft., and remnants of Portuguese and Dutch forts.
Sasthamcottah boasts of the largest fresh water lake in the whole of Kerala. Situated 19 km away from Quilon, Sasthamcottah is an attractive village, a beauty spot, a health resort, and a center of pilgrimage. Water supply to Quilon town is met by purifying the water from this lake.
Known also as Daksina Kashi, Oachira is situated 32 km north of the Quilon-Alappuzha National Highway and touches the boundary of Quilon district. Oachira is a unique pilgrim center. The peculiar template of the city has no temple buildings as such nor does any idols. All classes of people worship the presiding deity, the Parabrahmam. Oachira draws thousands of pilgrims for Oachirakkali, a festival held annually in June. Another festival held here is Panthrandu Vilakku in November-December, which lasts for 12 days. The festival is also followed by a fair that attracts thousands of pilgrims from all walks of life. Oachira is also an important handicraft center, where fancy articles of screw pine mats are manufactured