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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.


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


“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


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
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.

Kollam Tourism : Zone 1

Visit Krishnapuram Palace

Krishnapuram-Palace1-KeralaToursGlobalThe Krishnapuram Palace is an ancient palace and museum. It was built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1729–1758 AD), the Travancore kingdom. It is built in the architectural style of Kerala with gabled roof, narrow corridor and dormer windows, near the Krishnaswamy Temple at Krishnapuram.

Visit Ayiram Thengu Mangroves Forest

Ayiramthengu is a small Village in Kollam. The mangrove forest at Ayiramthengu is now home to a variety of flora and fauna. It is the habitat of a number of creatures, marine and terrestrial. In between the red mangroves, the rare Lumnitzera racemosa species of mangroves can also be seen. The trunks and roots of these trees are the habitat of a number of creatures. The Mangroves are a nursery for a wide variety of fish species. The forest is also home to a colony of otters. The glittering, waxy green canopy of the forest provides a nesting place for a wide variety of migratory birds. We visit the Mangroves forest on a traditional boat.

Visit to Azheekal Beach

20111110-S2_D-0134It is one of the most unknown and untouched beaches on the coast of Arabian Sea. In Malayalam, Aazhee means place where the Back Waters and the Sea confluence. The Beach is famous for its White Sands. The evening views of the Sunset are worth lingering over. One of the main attractions is the small island near the Beach. Some of the islands are filled with Mangrove forests. A Pulimuttu, which is 0.5 km, extended in to the Sea. The Beach is also 8189922939_ba9aa222e7_ba good spot for flying Kites. The presence of Cheenavala adds to the scenic beauty of the Beach. Uniqueness about this beach is you can see dolphins at a very close distance, which is amazing. Wonder is very few know that there are dolphins here.

Visit to Kattil Mekathil Temple

The Temple at Ponmana near Chavara has the Arabian Sea on one side and the backwater on the other. Thousands of devotees from all over the country come to the tree to tie the sacred bells given to them from the temple. The devotees go round the tree seven times before they tie the bell onto it. At the seventh round, they make a wish and it will be fulfilled. The Banyan tree is covered with such bells tied by the devotees. The bells are blessed by the temple priest and given to the devotees for Rs 30 per piece. The temple also holds a “12 vilakku utsavam”, a festival lasting 12 days during which time devotees live on the temple premises in makeshift huts. The land on which the temple is located is filled with black sand rich in minerals like titanium dioxide. You need to take a ferryboat service to reach the temple.

Visit to Neendakara Fishing Harbor

Neendakara is a famous fishing harbor located around 8 km from Kollam district of Kerala, India. From here you can see the Ashtamudi Lake joining the sea from the Neendakara Bridge and also the Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against the sky.

A Mangrove-Lined waterway for Kollam

If things move as planned by the Kollam district unit of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB), sailing through the Kollam course of the TS Canal, which forms part of the larger 168-km Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway-3, will soon give the traveller a feel of passing through rich mangrove forests. The project is being initiated under the People’s Mangrove Reforestation Programme (PMRP) conceived by the district coordinator of the KSBB, P. Radhakrishna Kurup, a retired botany professor.After securing the nod from the State government, the project is now under implementation.Prof. Kurup said that the PMRP was being taken forward in association with the respective local bodies and the KSBB.Since some portions of the canal banks were under private ownership, a campaign to earn the cooperation of the private landowners had also been launched, he said.A good part of the canal’s course used to be mangrove forests in the past. Later, without realising the environmental importance of the mangroves, these were wantonly cut down.If the programme was successfully implemented, the district course of canal, by itself, would become a major tourist attraction, in addition to complementing environment protection and rejuvenating marine life. But the PMRP was not restricted to Kollam district alone, he said. “My goal is to revive the mangrove forests of the State from wherever they were eradicated,” he said. Prof. Kurup said that the seeds of love for mangroves were sown in his mind by his guru N. Ravi, a retired botany professor of Kollam SN College, who is known as ‘a champion of the rights of plants.’


Catholic History of Quilon

1. Bishop House of the Diocese of Quilon


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The Diocese of Quilon, the first diocese in India and the cradle of Indian Christianity is proud to welcome you to this web portal. The vibrant catholic community of Quilon (Kollam) cherishes its unique history of being founded by St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus, nurtured by the great apostle St. Francis Xavier and fostered by the saintly martyr Archbishop JordanusCatalani de Severac

The Diocese of Quilon was one of the oldest Dioceses of Kerala. Quilon (Now Kollam) was one of the seven churches founded by the Apostle St. Thomas. Two Bishops were also appointed by the Apostle himself one at Quilon and the other either at Cranganore (Kodungallur) or Angamaly. Quilon was one of the major settlements of Syrian Christian immigrants from Persia in the 4th Century. Since the latter half of the 12th Century Quilon became the chief center of Franciscan and Dominican missionaries.

Till 1838, the territory of the existing Diocese of Quilon was governed by the Diocese of Goa and afterwards it became a part of the Diocese of Verapoly. The Diocese of Quilon was erected on September 1, 1886. In 1930 certain parts in the south was transferred to the Diocese of Kottar. Again in 1937 and in 1986 the diocese was again divided to form Dioceses of Trivandrum and Punalur respectively. The Diocese is comprised a major portion of Kollam revenue district, KarthikapallyTaluk and portions of Mavelikkara and ChengannurTaluk of Alappuzha district. The Patron of the Diocese is Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The headquarters of the Diocese is Thangassery at Kollam.

2. St Andrew’s Church, Kovilthottam


St Andrew’s Church, Kovilthottam is an historic Roman Catholic church situated in the Panmana–Chavarapanchayat, Karunagappallitaluk, Kollam district, Kerala, India. Built in 1398, it was reconstructed in 1779 by the Franciscan missionary Father Yovakim de Santiago. The church is also a parish church, part of the Diocese of Quilon, established in the 14th century. Masses are held in English and follow the Roman Rite liturgy.

Built in Portuguese colonial architecture style and dedicated to St Andrew,the church was recently renovated and subsequently consecrated by Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Quilon, Stanley Roman on January 20, 2006.

Kovilthottam is a small coastal village and a port, between Chavara T.S. canal part of the Kerala backwaters and Arabian sea to its west, it is approachable from Chavara from the iron footbridge. The Church is a popular pilgrimage and tourist destination of Chavara.

3. St. Antony’s church Vaddy Kollam

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The Vaddy St. Antony’s church in the city will celebrate its centenary with a year-long festival beginning November 13 with various programmes. The parish has a 700-year recorded history and the present structure is 100 years old. According to records available with the Kollam diocese, the present structure of the Vaddy church is the third one during its 700-year history. The earlier structures had been washed away by the sea.

The history of the parish is linked with the ancient port in Kollam and the community consisted of Christians from Syria and Armenia who are believed to have enriched the Christian life here in those days. But they got a definite identity only with the arrival of Dominican and Franciscan missionaries in the 14th Century. In 1329, Kollam was made the first diocese of the Catholic Church in Asia through a decree by the then Pope John XX11 and the Dominican friar JordanusCatalani the first bishop through a separate papal bull the same year.

Cathalani had been in Kollam since 1323 and had built the first church at Vaddy, then named St. George church. When Cathalani became bishop, the Vaddy church was elevated to the status of a cathedral. Diocesan records show that the papal legate John Marignoli had stayed at the church for 16 months. With the arrival of the Portuguese in Kollam in 1503, Franciscan missionaries took over the church and the administration of the local Christian community. They changed the name of the church to St. Antony’s church.

In 1699, Bishop Dom Peters Pachao built a new church for the parish, but that too got destroyed some years later. The present church was built between 1910 and 1913 by Ambrose Kompadi, a Goan priest. Seven years ago, the façade of the church was given a facelift, but the structure was retained. The archives of the church preserve marriage registers in Portuguese from the year 1700 to 1850. M. Marcelus, secretary of the centenary festival committee, said the programme schedule is under preparation. Monsignor George Mathew is the chairman of the committee.

4. St. Mary’s Church, Pullichira


The history of Pullichira Marian devotion dates back to the 16th century A. D. The sailors of a Portuguese ship, who were saved from a perilous sea storm through the intercession of our lady had put the statue of Virgin Mary in their possession in a box and floated it on the Arabian sea with a resolve to build a church where the box with the statue was washed ashore. It was this miraculous statue that reached the shores of Pullichira around 1520 A.D.

The faithful followers of Pullichira gladly placed the statue in the then existing small church. Later the Portuguese arrived here and built a church in 1572 A.D. with a beautifully carved wooden altar, at the top of which they installed the miraculous statue of Our Lady. The statue is preserved intact in this new church built in 1974. The Parish was established in 1627 A.D.

This church is located in MayyanadPanchayath, Kollam District. It has been built at a place of scenic beauty on the banks of Pullichira Lake. This Church is accessible from Kottiyam (2 km), from Mayyanad (2 km), and from Kollam town (12 km). Annual pilgrimage, rituals and celebration of festivals are routine here

5. St. John Baptist Church, Thirumullavaram

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6. Edachal Matha Church, Pattamthuruth


This is an old beautiful church built by the Dutch in 1878. The red church, a classic beauty of Dutch-Kerala architecture, occupies pride of place on Munroe island. this church has survived the test of time and looks like a stoic witness to the different moods of the Ashtamudi Lake along the Church to take a look at the huge white pillars, a typical form of Dutch architecture.

There are no regular masses here and the dust that has gathered is evidence.. On the western side of Munroe Island flows the majestic Kallada River. From the Kadavu, to cross the river in a country boat that ferries people to West Kallada and back. This is the best way to enjoy the beauty of rain in a river. where a boat race was conducted during Onam. Munroe Island got its name from Colonel Munroe, the British Resident of erstwhile Travancore. He was elevated to the post of Dewan. He held the post till 1914 and was instrumental in connecting Munroe Island to the other islands by digging navigable canals.

Malamel: Of hills and stories

These hills were once under the threat of being destroyed by the quarry lobby. The local people raised their voices against it and over time, their perseverance paid off. The quarry lobby had to step down and that perhaps is the reason why we are able to see Malamel as it is now. We take a trip through this hilly terrain to see what makes Malamel special. There is a narrow cave-like divide that separates Nadappara and Nadukanippara. A trek between these rocks will make you hold your breath for a second. Apart from the stunning view, the cold breeze that flows in from the dense sandalwood trees brings with it the fragrance of sandalwood and lemon grass that grows in the meadows. Beyond it is Malamel, a tiny hamlet where the skies are kissing the land, eternally. Malamel comes under Arakkal Village of Edamulakkal Grama Panchayat in Pathanapuram Taluk of Kollam district. The place is bordered by a series of hillocks – the Ayiravallippara, Pullakkampara, Ambalampara, Kombukuthipara, Kudappara, Golandarappara, Nadappara, Kochunadukanippara, Nadukanippara and Shankoothupara. When you visit the place, don’t forget to visit the Arakkal Devi Temple and Sankaranarayana Temple, which are now managed by Travancore Devaswom Board. These temples, they believe, bring prosperity to the land. The trekking starts from near the Arakkal Devi Temple. It is a steep road with sandalwood and other wild trees on either side. After a 200-meter walk, you reach Ayiravallippara. Climb on the rocks, look down and you see Anchal, Kulathupuzha, Chanappetta and Kudukkathupara at a distance. When you stand here, you will get to realise why the locals took up a stir. The crusher units, now abandoned, jar the beauty of the rocks.

Malamel Sankaranarayana Temple is the next destination. The temple is situated on a huge rock, which is also called the Ambalappara or a (Temple on a rock). The view from here; that of a nature wrapped in a green blanket blended with the beauty of the village, is a beautiful sight. Here too, you see signs of destruction. Long cracks are visible on the rocks as an impact caused by the activities of crusher units in the area. You can walk over to the Nadappara, which is covered by sweet-smelling lemon grasses. The journey to Nadukanippara is a bit adventurous. Once you get there, you get a beautiful view of the Thankassery Light. While standing on the summit, you can see Chadayamangalam, Jadayuppara and Maruthimala – the rocky hills under the blanket of trees. No wonder Nadukanippara is also called as the ‘oxygen hub’ of Arakkal Village. The now deserted building of the Forest Wireless station, which was burned down in a lightening stands out. The journey continues through the paths, which had seen the pythons and porcupines come and go. It ends with Kudappara, which has one rock over the other giving it the shape of an umbrella. Under the rock, there is ample space for visitors to protect themselves from rain and sun. After Kudappara, comes Golarantharappara, which is in the shape of a globe fixed on the edge of a needle. It is disheartening to know that a place blessed with such beauty has never gained the attention of State Tourism Department. Even though the District Tourism Council had taken some decisions to promote the place, unfortunately, those advancements remained only in papers.

The village is filled with fragrance of sandalwood trees. Apart from the famous Marayoor in Idukki, which is also a tourist spot, this could be the only place where sandalwood trees are grown naturally. Furthermore, Malamel could also be the one and only place where sandalwood trees are grown naturally in the non-forest areas as well. The fertile soil and suitable climate must be the contributing factors for the profuse growth of sandalwood trees. Interestingly, the stories of Puranas and myths of this place are also intertwined with the heady scent of sandalwood.

History of Kollam

Quilon or Coulão (Malayalam: ക്വയ്ലോണ്‍), officially Kollam (Malayalam: കൊല്ലം) is one of the ancient civilizations in India. Kollam is the oldest port city in the Malabar Coast and was the capital city of historic Venad Kingdom and Travancore Kingdom. Quilon was once one of the most important trading ports in India. It was also known as Desinganadu. Kollam is world-famous for its historic importance and business culture. It is now known as the “Cashew Capital of the World”. Since the ancient times, city of Kollam(Quilon) has played a vital role in the business, economical, cultural, religious and political history of Asia and Indian sub continent. Even the Malayalam calendar(Kollavarsham) is also known so with the name of the city Kollam. City of Quilon is mentioned in historical citations dating back to Biblical times and the reign of King Solomon, connecting with Red Sea ports of the Arabian Sea (supported by a find of ancient Roman coins). The teak wood used in building King Solomon’s throne was taken from Kollam. Desinganadu, old name of Kollam, had a sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians, Chinese, Arabs, Dutch and the Romans. It is closely related with the ancient and modern life of Keralites through Kollavarsham, Tharisapalli plates, arrival of Christianity in Kerala etc.

The history of the district of Kollam as an administrative unit can be traced back to 1835, when the Travancore state consisted of two revenue divisions with headquarters at Kollam and Kottayam. During the integration of Travancore and Cochin states in Kerala in 1949, Kollam was one among the three revenue divisions in the state. Later, those revenue divisions were converted as the first districts in the state. The city name “Kollam” is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit word Kollam (Sanskrit: कोल्लं), which means Pepper. During the ancient times, Kollam was world-famous for its trade culture, especially for the availability and export of fine quality Pepper. The sole motive of all the Portuguese, Dutch and British who have arrived the Port of Kollam that time was Pepper and other spices available at Kollam.

Kollam is the most historic and ancient settlement in Kerala, probably in South India. Ingots excavated from Kollam city, Port, Umayanallur, Mayyanad, Sasthamcotta, Kulathupuzha and Kadakkal proved that the whole district and city were human settlements since Stone Age. Teams of archaeologists and anthropologist have conducted visits to Kollam city and Port many times for treasure hunts and researches. The period between 1000 BC and 500 AD is referred to as the Megalithic Culture in South India and is similar to the culture in Africa and Europe. In January 2009, the Department of Archaeology discovered a Megalithic age cist burial ground at Thazhuthala in Kollam Metropolitan Area, which had thrown lights to the past glory and ancient human settlements in Kollam area. Similar cists had been earlier discovered from the south east of Kollam. The team discovered three burial chambers, iron weapons, earthen vessels in black and red and remains of molten iron after their first major excavation in Kollam. They found a cairn circle in 1990 during their first major excavation. In August 2009, a team of archaeologists led by Dr P.Rajendran, UGC research scientist and archaeologist at the Department of History of Kerala University, had discovered Lower Paleolithic tools along with the Chinese coins and potteries from the seabed of Tangasseri in the city. This is for the first time that prehistoric cupules and Lower Paleolithic tools were discovered from below the seabed in India.  These tools prove that the Stone Age people lived in present Kollam area and surroundings had moved to the coastal areas during the glacial period in the Pleistocene, when the sea-level was almost 300 feet below the present sea-level.Those tools are made of chert and quartzite rocks.

After AD.23, so many merchant travellers, explorers, missionaries, apostles and army commanders visited Quilon, as Quilon was the most important trading port in India. Pliny, Saint Thomas, Mar Sabor and Mar Proth, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta and Zheng He are a few of them. Pliny had mentioned about the port city of Quilon much accurately. By the ninth century AD., Quilon has evolved as political and trade centre of Kulsekhara dynasty of Venad Empire. Tomb of Mar Sabor at Marth Mariam church, Thevalakkara in Quilon. Time Traveller Country from which he/she came to Quilon Name they used to mention Quilon. Roman trade with ancient Coastal South West India according to the Periplus Maris Erythraei 1st century AD. In 822 AD, two East Syrian bishops Mar Sabor and Mar Proth, settled in Quilon with their followers. After the beginning of Kollam Era (824 AD), Quilon became the premier city of the Malabar region ahead of Travancore and Cochin. Kollam Port was founded by Mar Sabor at Thangasseri in 825 as an alternative to reopening the inland Seaport of Kore-ke-ni Kollam near Backare (Thevalakara), which was also known as Nelcynda and Tyndis to the Romans and Greeks and as Thondi to the Tamils.

Migration of East Syrians to Kerala started in 4th century. Their second migration is dated to the year AD 823 and that was to the city of Quilon. The tradition claims that the Christian immigrants rebuilt the city of Quilon in AD 825 from which date the Malayalam era is reckoned. Kollam Era (also known as Malayalam Era or Kollavarsham or Malayalam Calendar or Malabar Era) is a solar and sidereal Hindu calendar used in Kerala, India. The origin of the calendar has been dated as 825 CE (Pothu Varsham) at Kollam(Quilon). It replaced the traditional Hindu calendar used widely else where in India and is now prominently used in Kerala. All temple events, festivals and agricultural events in the state are still decided according to the dates in the Malayalam calendar. There are many theories regarding the origin of the Malayalam calendar – the Kolla Varsham. A major theory is; According to Herman Gundert Kolla Varsham started as part of erecting a new Shiva Temple in Kollam and because of the strictly local and religious background, the other regions did not follow this system at first. Then once the Kollam port emerged as an important trade center the other countries were also started to follow the new system of calendar. This theory backs the remarks of Ibn Battuta as well. The Kingdom of Quilon or Venad was one of the three prominent late medieval Hindu feudal kingdoms on the Malabar Coast in South India. The rulers of Quilon, the Venattadi Kulasekharas, traces their relations back to the Ay kingdom and the Later Cheras. The last Chera ruler, Rama Varma Kulashekhara, was the first ruler of an independent state of Quilon. In the early 14th century, King Ravi Varma established a short-lived supremacy over South India. After his death, Quilon only included most of modern-day Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Marco Polo claimed to have visited his capital at Quilon, a centre of commerce and trade with China and the Levant. Europeans were attracted to the region during the late fifteenth century, primarily in pursuit of the then rare commodity, black pepper. Quilon was the forerunner to Travancore.

In the Sangam age most of the present-day Kerala state was ruled by the Chera dynasty, Ezhimala rulers and the Ay rulers. Venad, ruled by the dynasty of the same name, was in the Ay kingdom. However, the Ays were the vassals of the Pandyas. By the 9th century, Venad became a part of the Later Chera Kingdom as the Pandya power diminished and traded with distant parts of the world. It became a semi-autonomous state within the Later Chera Kingdom. In the 11th century the region fell under the Chola empire. During the 12th century, the Venad dynasty merged the remnants of the old Ay Dynasty to them forming the Chirava Mooppan (the ruling King) and the Thrippappur Mooppan (the Crown Prince). The provincial capital of the local patriarchal dynasty was at port Kollam. The port was visited by Nestorian Christians, Chinese and Arabs. In same century, the capital of the war-torn Later Chera Kingdom was relocated to Kollam and the Kulasekhara dynasty merged with the Venad rulers. The last King of the Kulasekhara dynasty based on Mahodayapuram, Rama Varma Kulashekhara, was the first ruler of an independent Venad. The Hindu kings of Vijayanagar empire ruled Venad briefly in the 16th century.

Tharisapalli plates of AD 849 written at Quilon. The Tharisappalli Copper Plates (849 AD) are a copper-plate grant issued by the King of Venad (Quilon), Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal, to the Saint Thomas Christians on the Malabar Coast in the 5th regnal year of the Chera ruler Sthanu Ravi Varma. The inscription describes the gift of a plot of land to the Syrian Church at Tangasseri near Quilon (now known as Kollam), along with several rights and privileges to the Syrian Christians led by Mar Sapir Iso.The Tharisappalli copper plates are one of the important historical inscriptions of Kerala, the date of which has been accurately determined. The grant was made in the presence of important officers of the state and the representatives of trade corporations or merchant guilds. It also throws light on the system of taxation that prevailed in early Venad, as several taxes such as a profession tax, sales tax and vehicle tax are mentioned. It also testifies to the enlightened policy of religious toleration followed by the rulers of ancient Kerala. There are two sets of plates as part of this document, and both are incomplete. The first set documents the land while the second details the attached conditions. The signatories signed the document in the Hebrew, Pahlavi, and Kufic languages.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans came to the city of Quilon. They came to Quilon as traders and established a trading center at Tangasseri in Quilon in 1502. The then Queen of Quilon first invited the Portuguese to the city in 1501 for discussing about pepper trade. But they refused that due to Vasco da Gama’s close relations with the Raja of Cochin. Later the Queen of Quilon negotiated with the Raja and he permitted to send two Portuguese ships to the city of Quilon to buy fine quality pepper. That voyage was the beginning of trade relations between Portugal and city of Quilon, which became the centre of their trade in pepper. But that trade relation got set back due to an insurrection happened at the Port of Quilon between the Arabs and the Portuguese. The captain of one of the Portuguese fleets saw an Arab ship is loading pepper from the Port of Quilon and that burst fighting between them. Aftermath, the battle started between them. 13 Portuguese men were killed and the St. Thomas church were burned down. To prevent further devastation, the Queen of Quilon signed a treaty with the Portuguese and as a result they got customs tax exemption and monopoly over the spice and pepper tread with Quilon. The royal family of Quilon agreed to rebuild the destroyed church.