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Glory of Kollam Port

The artefacts dredged up at the Tangasseri harbour lend credence to historians’ claims of a thriving port centuries ago

Despite little archaeological evidence in hand, it was claimed by historians that Kollam used to be a flourishing port city of yore where ships from ancient empires used to call regularly for trade. Now, antique Chinese coins and other artefacts surfacing at the Tangasseri harbour complex are backing those claims. The artefacts, lying on the seabed probably for centuries, are being brought up through the suction dredging under way to increase the draft of the newly constructed Kollam cargo port within the harbour complex, and have triggered interest in the history of the ancient port of Kollam. The pottery and the ceramic ware, likely remaining intact in the deep, are in bits and pieces now after being sucked by the dredgers and passing about 300 meters through metal pipes before being deposited in the harbour yard. These are being collected by the Archaeological Department for studies.

Travellers’ accounts

The historians based their claims about the ancient Kollam port on the written accounts of famous travellers and explorers who had been to Kollam and had seen the good old days of the port. They include Fa-Hien from China (337 to 422 CE), Hsuan Tsang from China (602 to 664), the Arab geographer Al Kazwini (1203 to 1283), Italian Marco Polo (1254-1324), Moroccan Ibn Battuta (1304-1369) and Arab traveller Suleiman (date disputed). Those were the days when Kollam was the global capital of the spices trade, especially of that in cardamom, pepper, and ginger. Teak and indigo were the other products. An old English translation of Marco Polo’s description about Kollam reads as follows: When you quit Maabar (for Malabar) and go 500 miles towards the south-west you come to the kingdom of Coilum (for Kollam). The people are idolaters, but there are also some Christians and some Jews. The natives have a language of their own, and a king of their own, and are tributary to no one. A great deal of brazil is got here which is called brazil Coilumin from the country which produces it; ’tis of very fine quality. Good ginger also grows here, and it is known by the same name of Coilumin after the country. Pepper too grows in great abundance throughout this country, and I will tell you how. You must know that the pepper-trees are (not wild but) cultivated, being regularly planted and watered; and the pepper is gathered in the months of May, June, and July. They have also abundance of very fine indigo. This is made of a certain herb which is gathered, and [after the roots have been removed] is put into great vessels upon which they pour water and then leave it till the whole of the plant is decomposed. They then put this liquid in the sun, which is tremendously hot there, so that it boils and coagulates, and becomes such as we see it.

 

Traders
The merchants from Manzi (for South China), and from Arabia, and from the Levant (eastern Mediterranean countries) come thither with their ships and their merchandise and make great profits both by what they import and by what they export.

There are in this country many and diverse beasts quite different from those of other parts of the world. Thus there are lions black all over (could be the description on seeing a caged lion tailed macaque), with no mixture of any other colour. In short, everything they have is different from ours, and finer and better… Corn they have none but rice. So also their wine (for toddy) they make from palm-sugar; capital drink it is, and very speedily it makes a man drunk. All other necessaries of man’s life they have in great plenty and cheapness. They have very good astrologers and physicians. Man and woman, they are all black, and go naked, all save a fine cloth worn about the middle. They look not on any sin of the flesh as a sin. They marry their cousins and a man takes his brother’s wife after the brother’s death; and all the people of India have this custom.

It is said that Ibn Battuta reached Kollam from Kozhikode through the inland waterways after his ship sank in a storm. A translation of Battuta’s Kollam experience reads as follows: I decided to travel thither, it being a ten days’ journey either by land or by the river, if anyone prefers that route. I set out therefore by the river, and hired one of the Muslims to carry the carpet for me. Their custom when travelling on that river is to disembark in the evening and pass the night in the villages on its banks, returning to the boat in the morning. We used to do this too. There was no Muslim on the boat except the man I had hired, and he used to drink wine with the infidels when we went ashore and annoy me with his brawling, which made things all the worse for me. On the fifth day of our journey we came to Kunji-Kari, which is on top of a hill there; it is inhabited by Jews, who have one of their own number as their governor, and pay a poll-tax to the Sultan of Kawlam (Kollam).

Al Kazwini in 1263 described Kollam as one with magnificent markets and wealthy traders, and another Arab traveller, Suleiman, observed that Kollam was the only port in the Indian subcontinent touched by huge Chinese ships on their homeward voyage from Persia. Later, during the early 1500s, Vasco Da Gama and Saint Francis Xavier also arrived at the Kollam port.

 

Research scientist and archaeologist of the University of Kerala, P Rajendran, who had been exploring this area for the past four decades, told Express about a few of his magnificent findings from the coast.“Since 1974, at the initial days of my career, I started exploring the shores of Thangassery. Travel accounts of traders to Thangassery from China, Europe and Arab had mentioned about the coast.“But now, we are getting more material evidence,” said Rajendran, who did his post graduation and PhD in Archaeology from the Deccan College of Pune University. When the news on Chinese coins and artefacts spread, Rajendran showed two exquisite testaments of lower Paleolithic period which he found along Thangassery coast.“The chopping tools which I found dates back to over 1.5 lakh years to one million. They are prehistoric cultural remains,” Rajendran said.“This is the first such recovery of tools, from below the sea level, in India”, he claims.He discounts the chance of these tools coming from other main lands to the shore since their edges are too sharp.“This substantiates the fact that they were left here as such by the users”.Rajendran pointed out the uniqueness of a coin in his collection.“It was a shocking sight for me to see this coin with Chinese script on one side and Arabic scriptures on its back. It is absolutely a rare discovery. This might be the remnants of a rare trading system exclusively between the Arabs and the Chinese,” Rajendran said.The previous experiences of finding a white celadon ware in 1991 and red ceramic supports the claim of Chinese settlement there long back. He said a trained eye would detect more historic material. Rajendran is planning to move ahead to explore more wonders from his “favourite coast” in his home town.

Kollam Tourism : Zone 2

 Visit to Kollam Beach

It is situated right at the City Centre overlooking harbor and seaport. The beach also features a park of international standard, called the Mahatma Gandhi Park. It is an ideal location to enjoy the sunrise and sunset; it offers a mesmerizing view of the Arabian Sea. The view of the sea will keep you in trance for long. In the night thousands of fishing boats hovers the ocean with twinkling lights like a galaxy of stars. You can also enjoy street food, beach soccer, beach volley, kite flying and much more at the beach. Kollam is a port city and one time active harbor for Chinese ships and trade, Kollam Beach is home to Chinese fishing nets, Chinese water pots and sampan-like boats seen even today. Kollam Beach is the first ‘Beach Wedding Destination’ in Kerala.

St.Thomas Fort (Dutch Fort) at Tangasseri

 Portuguese-fort-Thangassery

“Thangasseri” literally means “Gold village” in Malayalam language. The place was named as Thangasseri because this was the place where trade was done using gold as the currency. Thangasseri Fort was the favorite spot of the Dutch and the Portuguese. The Thangasseri Fort was constructed in the 16th century and right now only the ruins are left behind. The fort was about 20 feet tall. In olden times, Thangasseri was of strategic importance to the colonial powers that were constantly trying to establish their control of trade on the Malabar Coast. As per records, the Portuguese initially approached the Rani of Quilon in 1517 to construct a factory at Thangasseri for trade purposes, which was granted. However, it is believed that the locals subsequently burned down the factory. Although the Portuguese were given permission to rebuild the factory, they decided to build a fort instead. In 1519, the Thangassery Fort was constructed strategically on a promontory overlooking the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea. Thangasseri was sequentially under the Dutch who defeated the Portuguese in 1761 and then passed into British hands with the rout of the Dutch at Kochi in 1795.

 Visit the Portuguese Cemetery at Tangasseri

Tangasseri-or-Thangassery-Kerala-India.-Author-and-Copyright-Prof-Rahul-Basu.

The Portuguese Cemetery (after the invasion of Dutch, it became Dutch Cemetery) of Tangasseri in Kollam city, India, was constructed around 1519 as part of the Portuguese invasion of the city. Buckingham Canal, a small canal between Tangasseri Lighthouse and the cemetery, is situated very close to the Portuguese Cemetery. A group of pirates known as the Pirates of Tangasseri formerly lived at the Cemetery. The remnants of St. Thomas Fort and Portuguese Cemetery still exist at Tangasseri.

Visit to Tangasseri Light House
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Thangaserri Light House

Thangasseri or ‘Dutch Quilon’ as it was called, was once a British enclave. Meaning ‘gold village’ in local parlance, this was the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency. This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an Old Portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century. It is situated 5 km away from Kollam town in the state of Kerala. In operation since 1902, the cylindrical lighthouse tower painted with white and red oblique bands has a height of 41 metres (135 ft), making it the tallest lighthouse on the Kerala Coast. The beacon can be seen up to 13 miles out at sea. Check out the lighthouse at Thangasseri, which is open to visitors from 1530 – 1730 hrs. Get to see the sun setting and the moon rising simultaneously at Thangasseri on the drive down the Lighthouse Road, which gives you a breathtaking view of the sea as well. Lift facility has been installed at the lighthouse to help everyone reach the top of the lighthouse with ease.

 Visit to the Fishing Harbor and Breakwater

The fishery harbour at Tangasseri is a basin for traditional fishermen, achieved by the construction of two breakwaters. The length of the main breakwater is 2100 m and the leeward breakwater 550 m. This provides sufficient beach length for landing facilities for all operational craft.

 Visit to 8 point Art Café

It is an art gallery and café situated on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake. This is the first international standard art café in the city of Kollam. It’s a place were Art, Literature and Nature blends. It is a very calm and quiet place to enjoy a cup of Coffee or Tea. You can find many species of plants, birds and butterflies around the place.

Visit to Adventure Park

Asramam Adventure Park is an urban park in the core Kollam city of Kerala state. It was opened after 1980, on 48 acres of city-owned land. Located beside the Kerala’s pride, backwaters of Ashtamudi, this place popularly known as Asramam Picnic Village. The mangroves near this park are very famous in all over India. So many endangering species of trees are surviving here in the park. There are some activities for adventure lovers. You can also enjoy a very calm lakeside atmosphere. There is a small entrance fee at the gate. You can also book for boat trips from Kollam to Allepey.

 Explore Ashtamudi Lake 

Ashtamudi Lake is the most visited backwater and lake in the state. It possesses a unique wetland ecosystem and a large palm-shaped water body, second only in size to the Vembanad estuary ecosystem of the state. Ashtamudi means ‘eight coned’ in the local Malayalam language. The name is indicative of the lake’s topography with its multiple branches. The lake is also called the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Along both banks of the lake and its backwater canals, coconut groves and palm trees interspersed with towns and villages are seen. You can have a boat cruise of Ashtamudi Lake with rich Kerala Food. It will be once in a lifetime experience. Ashtamudi is calm and quite with rich flora and fauna.

COYLAN : Kollam ( Quilon )

Coylang [later Quilon,now ‘KOLLAM’ CITY]  MAP 1672 

Title Coylang
Maker Baldaeus
Year Amsterdam, 1672 (published by Jansssonius van Waasberge en van Someren.
Description Antique map of  the city of Coylang ofCoylan, Malabar Coast, India ( copper engraving) printed in 1672.(first Dutch edition )
Location/Subject Antique maps / Asia / India / Malabar Coast /Coylan

The Queen of Coylang [receiving Nieuhof]

The Dutch representative William Van Nieuhoff describes the Rani as:

“… I was introduced into her majesty’s presence. She had a guard of above 700 Nair soldiers about her, all clad after the Malabar fashion; the Queens attire being no more than a piece of callicoe wrapt around her middle, the upper part of her body appearing for the most part naked, with a piece of callicoe hanging carelessly round her shoulders. Her ears, which were very long, her neck and arms were adorned with precious stones, gold rings and bracelets and her head covered with a piece of white callicoe. She was past her middle age, of a brown complexion, with black hair tied in a knot behind, but of majestick mein, she being a princess who shew’d a great deal of good conduct in the management of her affairs ” 

Umayamma Rani
Kulasekhara Dynasty

Born: – Died: 1705

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Rajah Aditya Varma
Rani of Venad, Attingal Mootha Thampuran
1677-1684
Succeeded by
Rajah Ravi Varma




KOLLAM (COYLAUNG) CITY 1600'S

The city of Coylang,” with Dutch East India Company ships in the harbor; from ‘Wouter Schouten’s travels into the East Indies’, 2nd ed., Amsterdam, 1708

https://i1.wp.com/www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/1700_1799/malabar/quilon/schouten1708b.jpg

The Royal Pagoda and Palace Conquerer [by the Dutch, Dec. 1661 ]

 https://i0.wp.com/www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/1700_1799/malabar/quilon/submission.jpg

Quilon surrenders to Dutch :  “Two black kings come to Coulang” [and submit to the Dutch


From a Portuguese atlas, 1630

A plan published by the Van Keulen family in ‘De Zee En Land-Caarten en Gizigeten van steeden en landvertooningen van oost-indien’, 1752


Today, Tangasseri Fort (built by the Dutch in the 1500’s) survives only as a few ruined walls


https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/General_view_north_from_the_bridge%2C_Quilon.jpg

Photograph taken about 1900 by the Government photographer, Zacharias D’Cruz of a general view north from the bridge, Quilon. It is one of 76 prints in an album entitled ‘Album of South Indian Views’ from the Curzon Collection. George Nathaniel Curzon was Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office between 1895-98 and Viceroy of India between 1898-1905. [this photo copyright does not belong to Britain just because they were the rulers in India at that time ;because Travancore was not under British rule and the photos were taken by Travancore official ,not a British man.Britain got the tendency to claim copyright over Indian photos and try to sell it as if they are the owners of India still DUE TO THE PRESENT FINANCIAL CRISIS IN BRITAIN AFTER LOSING THE COLONIES


File:1904-ൽ ഉദ്ഘാടനം ചെയ്ത കൊല്ലം തീവണ്ടി സ്റ്റേഷൻ (1904-05).jpg

Railway station kollam(quilon) 1904


File:Residence of the Maharaja of Travancore at Thevalli in Quilon .jpg

Residence of the Maharaja of Travancore at Thevalli in Quilon-Photograph taken about 1900 by the Government photographer, Zacharias D’Cruz

File:ബ്രിട്ടീഷ് റസിഡൻസിയും ഗസ്റ്റ് ഹൗസും. ആശ്രാമം, കൊല്ലം. (1900).jpg

British residency at Quilon[kollam] 1900-residencies were buildings made for British resident officer who controlled and guided all maharajas ,in their respective kingdoms this was done to prevent the recurrence of revolt against British rule as happened in 1850

Max PAM, Waterway to Quilon, Kerala