Ayiramthengu Beach, Kollam
Ayiramthengu Beach is lesser known but arguably more attractive than the rest. Surrounded by a natural scenic vista of backwaters, lagoons, lakes and a lush mangrove forest, it is an irresistible beauty. Yet to be developed as a tourist destination, Ayiramthengu Beach offers solitude and peace. It is a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate and reconnect with nature or yourself.
The Beach is located conveniently close to Kollam. Get your camera ever ready during your onward journey because you will definitely sight birds such as cormorants, storks, heron and other fish eaters. Ayiramthengu is located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Kayamkulam Kayal (Lagoon), where many avifauna thrive in the forested covering perched on green bushes, shrubs and the submerged trees.
Once you reach the Beach, first thing you will notice is the massive Chinese nets that line the shoreline. City dwellers love the simple but alternative experience they bring. Interestingly, there is a prawn breeding centre at the village. About 60% of prawn in the state is from the district. The prawns are caught from the sea and scientifically bred at the local hatcheries. You should check out the whole process yourself.
Also, make it a point to visit the mangrove forest. The brackish water serves as a habitation for many species of animals and birds such as otters and it is a favourite destination of migratory birds. Ayiramthengu mangrove forest was declared an environmental hot spot after it was ravaged by the Tsunami in 2004 and threatened with extinction. Thanks to the efforts of the State Fisheries Department which planted nearly 10,000 red mangrove saplings, it is a thriving ecosystem again. The mangrove forest covers a wide area spreading through the banks of the adjacent fish farm ponds.
However, the best part of your sojourn will be the houseboat cruise on the Ashtamudi backwaters. A total of eight backwaters converge at Ashtamudi so it is popularly known as the gateway to Kerala backwaters. Ayiramthengu is close to Ashtamudi Lake, a major tourist spot in Kerala. For this reason, most backwater cruises in the area make a stop at Ayiramthengu.
The region is one of the worst Tsunami affected areas of the state. If you want to see the extent of the damage caused, then head to the nearby Azheekal village. Though traces of the devastation are still evident, it is heart-warming to see how the village is being re-built by numerous charitable organisations.