Kollam an old sea port town on the Arabian coast, stands on the Ashtamudi lake. Kollam, the erstwhile Desinganadu, had a sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Fed by the Chinese trade, it was regarded by IbnuBatuta, as one of the five ports, which he had seen in the course of his travels during a period of twenty four years, in the 14th century.
The rulers of Kollam (Desinganadu) and China, exchange embassies and there was flourishing Chinese settlement at Kollam. Merchant Sulaiman of Siraf in Persia (9th Century) found Kollam to be the only port in India , touched by the huge Chinese junks , on his way from Carton of Persian Gulf. Marco Polo, the great Venician traveller, who was in Chinese service under Kublahan in 1275, visited Kollam and other towns on the west coast, in his capacity as a Chinese mandarin.The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading centre at Kollam in 1502. Then came the Dutch followed by the British in 1795.