Kollam Knowledge Guide
Along with (Muziris), Quilon was an ancient seaport on the Malabar Coast of India from the early centuries before the Christian era. The city had a high commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and Ancient Romans. Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) mentions Greek ships anchored at Muziris and Nelcynda. There was also a land route over the Western Ghats. Spices, pearls, diamonds, and silk were exported to Egypt and Rome from these ports. Pearls and diamonds came to the Chera Kingdom from Ceylon and the southeastern coast of India, then known as the Pandyan Kingdom. Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Greek Nestorian sailor, in his book the Christian Topography who visited the Malabar coast in 550, mentions an enclave of Christian believers in Male (Chera Kingdom). He writes, "In the island of Tabropane (Ceylon), there is a church of Christians, and clerics and faithful. Likewise at Male, where the pepper grows, and in the farming community of Kalliana (Kalliankal at Nillackal) there is also a bishop consecrated in Persia in accordance with the Nicea sunnahadose of 325 AD." The Nestorian Patriarch Jesujabus, who died in 660 AD, mentions Kollam in his letter to Simon, Metropolitan of Persia.
Capital of Venad (9th to 12th centuries)
The port at Kollam, then known as Quilon, was founded in 825 by the Nestorian Christians Mar Sabor and Mar Proth with sanction from Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal, the king of the independent Venad or State of Quilon, a feudatory under the Chera kingdom.It is believed that Mar Sapor Iso also proposed that the Chera king create a new seaport near Kollam in lieu of his request that he rebuild the almost vanished inland seaport at Kollam (kore-ke-ni) near Backare (Thevalakara), also known as Nelcynda and Tyndis to the Romans and Greeks and as Thondi to the Tamils, which had been without trade for several centuries because the Cheras were overrun by the Pallavas in the 6th century, ending the spice trade from the Malabar coast. This allowed the Nestorinas to stay in the Chera kingdom for several decades and introduce the Christian faith among the Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nair sub castes in the St. Thomas tradition, with the Syrian liturgy as a basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity, without replacing the Sanskrit and Vedic prayers. The Tharisapalli plates presented to Maruvan Sapor Iso by Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal granted the Christians the privilege of overseeing foreign trade in the city as well as control over its weights and measures in a move designed to increase Quilon's trade and wealth. The two Christians were also instrumental in founding Christian churches with Syrian liturgy along the Malabar coast, distinct from the ancient Vedic Advaitam propounded by Adi Shankara in the early 9th century among the Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nair Sub Castes, as Malayalam was not accepted as a liturgical language until the early 18th century. Thus began the Malayalam Era, known as Kolla Varsham after the city, indicating the importance of Kollam in the 9th century. The Persian merchant Soleyman of Siraf visited Malabar in the 9th century and found Quilon to be the only port in India used by the huge Chinese ships as their transhipment hub for goods on their way from China to the Persian Gulf. The rulers of Kollam (formerly called 'Desinganadu') had trade relations with China and exchanged embassies. According to the records of the Tang dynasty (618–913), Quilon was their chief port of call before the 7th century. The Chinese trade decreased about 600 and was again revived in the 13th century. Mirabilia Descripta by Bishop Catalani gives a description of life in Kollam, which he saw as the Catholic bishop-designate to Kollam, the oldest Catholic diocese in India. He also gives true and imaginary descriptions of life in 'India the Major' in the period before Marco Polo visited the city.
Portuguese, Dutch and British conquests (16th to 18th centuries)
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading center in Tangasseri, Kollam in 1502, which became the centre of their trade in pepper. In the wars with the Moors/Arabs that followed, the ancient church (temple) of St Thomas Tradition at Thevalakara was destroyed. In 1517 the Portuguese built the St. Thomas Fort in Thangasseri, which was destroyed in the subsequent wars with the Dutch. In 1661 the Dutch East India Company took possession of the city. The remnants of the old Portuguese Fort, later renovated by the Dutch, can be found at Thangasseri. In the 18th century Travancore conquered Kollam, followed by the British in 1795. Thangasseri remains today as an Anglo-Indian settlement, though few Anglo-Indians remain. The Infant Jesus Church in Thangasseri, an old Portuguese-built church, remains as a memento of the Portuguese rule of the area.
Battle of Quilon
The Battle of Quilon was fought in 1809 between a troop of the Indian kingdom of Travancore led by the then Dalawa (prime minister) of Travancore, Velu Thampi Dalawa and the British East India Company led by Colonel Chalmers at Cantonment Maidan in Quilon. The battle lasted for only six hours and was the result of the East India Company's invasion of Quilon and their garrison situated near the Cantonment Maidan. The company forces won the battle while all the insurrectionist who participated in the war were court-martialed and subsequently hanged at the maidan.Later, Venad Kingdom was completely merged with the Kingdom of Travancore during the rein of Marthanda Varma and Kollam remained as the capital of Travancore Kingdom. The Government Secretariat was also situated in Kollam till 1830s. It was moved to Thiruvananthapuram during the reign of Swathi Thirunal. Excavation at Kollam Port seabedExcavations are going on at Kollam Port premises since February 2014 as the team has uncovered arrays of antique artifacts, including Chinese porcelain and coins. A Chinese team with the Palace Museum, a team from India with Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) are jointly working at the Kollam Port site for the treasure hunt. The archaeologists and historians said that the discovered coins and artifacts had the potential to tell the story of a bygone India-China link, and even strong trade links of Kollam city with other ancient empires.
Kollam Fest is Kollam's own annual festival, attracting mostly Keralites but also hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists to Kollam. The main venue of Kollam Fest is the historic and gigantic Ashramam Maidan. Kollam Fest is the signature event of Kollam. Kollam Fest seeks to showcase Kollam's rich culture and heritage, tourism potential and investments in new ventures.Kollam Pooram, part of the Ashramam Sree Krishnaswamy Temple Festival, is usually held on 15 April, but occasionally on 16 April. The pooram is held at the Ashramam maidan. The President's Trophy Boat Race (PTBR) is an annual regatta held in Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam. The event was inaugurated by President Prathibha Patil in September 2011. The event has been rescheduled from 2012.