The district of Kollam has many destinations that have created a niche on Kerala’s tourism map. The small village of Thenmala that lies 72 km from Thiruvananthapuram is famous for being India’s first planned eco tourism project. In Malayalam language ‘Then’ means honey and ‘Mala’ means hill, consequently Thenmala means the Honey Hill, aptly named as the area is known to produce excellent quality of honey. Thenmala Eco-Tourism is divided into different zones with its own range of activities and attractions. These zones are Culture Zone, Leisure Zone and Adventure Zone. The whole area is densely forested and draws both domestic and foreign tourists. The Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many species of flora and fauna. There is an open air Musical Dancing Fountain that recreates the ‘dance of nature’. The popular activities that tourists can indulge in are boating, trekking, mountain biking, rappelling, etc. One of the highlights is the Deer Rehabilitation Centre where you can see spotted deer, sambar deer and barking deer. Families can spend the day in tree top huts. There is also a children’s eco park.
Yet another attraction is the spectacular Palaruvi Falls that is about 16 km from Thenmala. Located near the Tamil Nadu border, the 300 feet waterfall means ‘stream of milk’ and is known to be the 40th highest waterfall in the country. One of the interesting activities at Palaruvi is the five km trek to the top of the fall and back. You can explore the ancient caves and get a deeper understanding of the region’s flora, along the way.
Kollam is also the gateway city to one of the most important wetlands in India – Ashtamudi lake. It derives its name from its eight channels or arms. The 16-km long Ashtamudi lake is the second largest in Kerala after the Vembanad lake. There are houseboat cruises that cover the various islands in the Ashtamudi backwaters.
Another interesting place near Kollam is Varkala which has a pristine beach. The other places of tourist interest are the 2,000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam – Sivagiri Mutt.
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