Located in Kollam district of Kerala in southern India, Ashtamudi is one of the gateways to the backwaters of Kerala. Along with Kochi and Vembanad, Ashtamudi is one of the major centres of backwater tourism. Palm fringed lagoons, gently blowing wind, houseboats swaying with the current – Ashtamudi offers picture postcard memories to last a lifetime.
Ashtamudi Lake is the second largest and deepest wetland ecosystem, next only to the Vembanad estuary ecosystem of the state. Ashtamudi means 'eight coned' (Ashta = eight, mudi = coned) in Malayalam. This name is indicative of the lake's topography: a lake with multiple branches. Thevally lake, Kandachira lake, Kureepuzha lake, Kallada lake, Perumon lake, Kumbalath lake, Kanjirottu lake and Thekkumbhagam lake form the eight branchs of Ashtamudi lake.
Ashtamudi Wetland was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention for conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands.
As the number of houseboats and resorts are limited, it would be advisable to make the reservations in advance.
Quilon or Kollam and inevitably the Ashtamudi lake's importance dates back to the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Ibn Batuta, during his 24-year sojourn in the 14th century, is reported to have mentioned about the Quilon port as one of the five ports for Chinese trade.
Ashtamudi has also become a hot spot for Ayruvedic and holistic treatments. Lots of resorts and hotels located around Ashtamudi offer Ayurvedic massages and other treatments.
The eight hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. The Kollam Boat Club provides boats to cruise on the lake.
It is not just the backwaters that Ashtamudi offers. Ashtamudi is also a good place to witness and participate in temple festivals of Kerala. In addition to the festival at Veerabhadra Swamy temple in Ashtamudi, festivals at the Sreekrishna Swamy Temple, Asramam, Thrikkadavoor Mahadeva Temple and Kottamkulangara temple are popular and attract thousands of devotees. The festival of Onam held in the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September) is also the time when boat races are held. Time your visit to attend the President's Trophy Boat Race and Kallada Jalotsavam.
Kollam is known for its cashew and coir products. Several cashew factories are located in Kollam district. Best place to buy good quality cashew nuts cheap. The Ashtamudi lake and other water bodies have played a major role in the flourishing of coir industry in the district. Ashtamudi and surrounding areas are a good place to watch the manufacturing of coir products.
Where to stay
Resorts abound in Ashtamudi. Since it is tourists popular with, it would be advisable if the bookings are made in advance. Kollam, the nearest city offers a variety in terms of options to stay. Cheap hotels can be found for less than Rs 500. Deluxe and luxury hotels are also available. While Deluxe hotels can range from Rs 800 to Rs 1800, luxury hotels can cost anywhere between Rs 2000 and Rs 10000. Some hotels have boathouses.
Where to eat
Finding fancy restaurants in Ashtamudi could be difficult. However, what it lacks, is made good by the variety it offers. Since it is situated on the banks of the lagoon, Ashtamudi is a sea-food lovers’ paradise. Good place to gorge on the local delicacy Karimeen (Pearlspot), Crab curry and Kakka. Several small eateries and food stalls serve good food. Finding vegetarian food is not difficult. Resorts and even small hotels do serve vegetarian meals.
Best time to visit
Summer (March to May) temperatures range between 25 and 32 degree Celsius. Ashtamudi like the rest of Kerala receives rainfall twice every year – Monsoon (June to September) and the retreating monsoon (October-November). Kerala receives heavy rainfall. Winters (November to February) witnesses a drop in temperatures ranging from 18 to 25 degree Celsius, making it the ideal time to visit.