The gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala, Ashtamudi Lake, situated in the Kollam district is a must visit in ‘God’s own Country.’ Covering thirty percent of this historic town, Ashtamudi Lake is a fusion of eight small lakes, and a boat ride through this natural wonder is an experience to have.

Especially the eight-hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is a must; it is the longest and the most enchanting experiences to have on the backwaters of Kerala. The coconut trees on the shores, the birds you will spot throughout the journey, and the interception by Chinese fishing nets, add a lot of character to the place.

However, there’s a whole lot to see and do beyond experiencing Ashtamudi. The traditional, ornamental temples and historic remains such as Ananda Valleswaram Temple are the major attractions, as are the Palaruvi Waterfall, Thangassery Lighthouse, and the beaches of Kollam and Thirumullavaram.

Start with a trip to the 120-year-old Thangassery Lighthouse; a view from the top of this British built lighthouse is incredible. The tallest lighthouse in Kerala, Thangassery Lighthouse affords stunning views as far as the eyes can see. For those who can’t climb the steps, there’s a lift service you can avail inside the lighthouse.

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The milky white Palaruvi Waterfalls, cascading from a height of 300 feet are amazingly beautiful too. The water from this fall are cold, clear and clean – making it an absolute delight in the heat.

For an immersive experience in wildlife, head to Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled deep in the Western Ghats. The park gets its name from the unique tree – the Shenduruny – found only here, which is believed to have medical properties. One of the best experiences you can have here is to stay in a campsite at night, securely separated from the jungle by trenches.

Last but not the least, the 19th-century Thevalli Palace is an attraction mainly for the history buffs. It is a  popular heritage palace, situated on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake, made in a combination of Dutch, British and Portuguese architectural styles.