One of the leading trade capitals of the Old World, Kollam is the center of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry. Extolled by Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta in glowing terms, this was once a famous port of international spice trade. Thirty percent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. The eight-hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. The momentous decision to introduce a new Malayalam era was convened at Kollam and hence the Malayam calendar came to be known as kollavarsham.