means ‘great Kollam’ in Malayalam. And great it was! We arrived on the train from Tamil Nadu in the early morning, 2am to be exact. Our plan of shortening our journey by going to Courtallam was thwarted when we found out that the train over the mountains had been cancelled indefinitely! We didn’t fancy the first Indian bus to be over the mountains at night so we had to catch the train back almost to Kanyakumari, then round the bottom of India and up the coast of Kerala. It was an unrelentingly hot journey so it was nice to arrive at Ashtamudi Villas. A little oasis of calm by Ashtamudi lake with a beautiful palm tree garden and very attentive staff.
Even better, they had a connection with a local fishermen (you know we like them) who drives tourists around in the summer in his auto. He looked after us throughout our stay in Kollam, and took us to festivals and local places to eat. (There’s more information about him in a separate post too.) The most crazy festival started with a ‘procession’ boat coming past the villas on the lake. At about 60m tall, it was completely handmade by the local people and was being transported, amid lots of singing, shouting and drumming, to join a celebration. There it would be carried by 100 men to join 6 other similar structures, surrounded by lots of people and beautifully adorned elephants.
And there was another procession the next night of highly decorated vehicles reversing down the road among the normal traffic!
We used our time in Kollam to wander around the banana and vegetable markets, the fish market, and the beach. But we mostly lazed about in the hammocks at the villas reading books and relaxing. It was v g.