Discovering Kollam: A Photographer’s Journey

Kollam, a vibrant city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Known for its rich history, enchanting backwaters, and cultural diversity, Kollam offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. As a young photographer, I had the privilege of exploring this captivating city, capturing its essence through my lens and immersing myself in its traditions.

First Impressions of Kollam

My journey to Kollam began with a scenic drive from the bustling city of Thiruvananthapuram. As I approached Kollam, the landscape gradually transformed into a lush green paradise. The city is cradled by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Ashtamudi Lake to the east, creating a picturesque setting that is perfect for photography.

Upon arrival, I was struck by the city’s laid-back atmosphere and the warmth of its people. The streets were bustling with activity, yet there was a sense of calmness that pervaded the air. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sound of temple bells added to the charm, making me feel instantly at home.

The Backwaters: A Photographer’s Dream

One of Kollam’s most captivating features is its network of backwaters. The Ashtamudi Lake, often referred to as the gateway to the backwaters, is a labyrinth of canals, lakes, and rivers that stretch across the region. I decided to embark on a houseboat cruise to truly experience the magic of the backwaters.

As the houseboat glided through the serene waters, I was mesmerized by the lush greenery and the traditional Kerala-style houses that dotted the landscape. The sight of fishermen casting their nets and the occasional glimpse of a kingfisher diving for its catch provided ample opportunities for stunning photographs. The golden hues of the setting sun reflected on the water, creating a surreal atmosphere that was nothing short of magical.

Immersing in Local Culture

Kollam is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, with a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The city’s cultural diversity is reflected in its festivals, cuisine, and daily life. I had the chance to visit the Thangassery Light House, a historical landmark that offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. The lighthouse, built in the 18th century, stands as a testament to Kollam’s maritime heritage.

The local cuisine is another highlight of Kollam. The flavors of Kerala are rich and diverse, with an emphasis on fresh seafood, coconut, and spices. I indulged in traditional dishes like Karimeen Pollichathu (pearl spot fish), Appam with Stew, and the famous Kerala Sadya, a vegetarian feast served on a banana leaf. Each meal was a culinary adventure, offering a taste of the region’s unique flavors.

Exploring Historical Sites

Kollam’s historical significance is evident in its numerous landmarks and monuments. One of the most notable sites is the Kollam Beach, a pristine stretch of coastline that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a peaceful evening by the sea. The beach is also home to the Mahatma Gandhi Park, a beautifully landscaped area that is ideal for relaxation and photography.

Another must-visit site is the Jatayu Earth’s Center, also known as Jatayu Nature Park. This park is home to the world’s largest bird sculpture, dedicated to the mythical bird Jatayu from the Indian epic Ramayana. The sculpture is an impressive sight, and the park offers a range of activities, including rock climbing and zip-lining, making it a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts.

Capturing the Essence of Kollam

As a photographer, Kollam offered endless opportunities to capture the essence of its landscapes and people. The city is a vibrant tapestry of colors, with its lush greenery, blue waters, and the vibrant attire of its residents. The traditional festivals, such as Onam and Vishu, are celebrated with great enthusiasm, providing a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

One of my favorite experiences was photographing the Kallada Boat Race, an annual event that takes place on the Kallada River. The race is a thrilling spectacle, with beautifully decorated snake boats competing against each other. The energy and excitement of the event, combined with the rhythmic chants of the rowers, created a dynamic and captivating scene that was a joy to photograph.

The Heartbeat of Kollam: Its People

The true essence of Kollam lies in its people. The residents of Kollam are known for their hospitality and warmth, making every visitor feel like part of the community. During my stay, I had the opportunity to interact with local artisans, fishermen, and shopkeepers, each of whom shared their stories and experiences with me.

I visited a coir-making factory, where I witnessed the intricate process of turning coconut fibers into beautiful mats and rugs. The skill and craftsmanship of the artisans were truly inspiring, and I was able to capture some candid shots of their meticulous work. Similarly, a visit to the local markets provided a glimpse into the daily life of Kollam’s residents, with vibrant stalls selling everything from spices to traditional clothing.

Kollam: A City of Harmony

Kollam is a city that harmoniously blends tradition and modernity. Its rich cultural heritage is preserved through its festivals, cuisine, and historical landmarks, while its natural beauty is showcased in its backwaters, beaches, and lush landscapes. As I packed my bags and prepared to leave, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the experiences and memories I had gathered.

Kollam had not only offered me a treasure trove of photographic opportunities but had also enriched my understanding of Kerala’s diverse culture and traditions. The city’s serene beauty, vibrant culture, and the warmth of its people had left an indelible mark on my heart.