Ashtamudi Lake (Ashtamudi Kayal) in the Kollam District of Kerala, India, is the second largest and deepest wetland ecosystem, a palm-shaped (also called octopus-shaped) large water body, next only to the Vembanad estuary ecosystem of the state. Ashtamudi means 'eight coned' (Ashta = 'eight'; mudi = 'coned') in the local language of Malayalam. This name is indicative of the lake's topography: a lake with multiple branches. The lake is also called the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Ashtamudi Wetland was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands.
The lake is the source of livelihood for the people living close to it in fishing, coconut husk retting for coir production and inland navigation services. The lake and the life on its shores have inspired many artists and writers. It has been the subject of many poems of renowned poet Thirunalloor Karunakaran who was born and brought up on its banks. BACKWATER TOURISM Tourism is one of the most attractive activity in Ashtamudi lake, Accommodation in Resorts and Houseboats are a memorable thing.
Ashtamudi Estuary has mangroves Avicennia officinalis, Brugiera gymnorrhiza and Sonneratia caseolaris as also 43 species of marshy and mangrove associates including two endangered species Syzygium travancoricum (endangered species according to the Red Data Book of Indian Plants) and Calamus rotang in the Terrestrial system. These species offer excellent scope for development of marine bioreserve to promote eco-tourism in the estuarine of the lake. IUCN lists the two endangered species in IUCN 2008. The total number of Syzygium travancoricum is reported to be very small, not more than 200.
The lake supports 57 species of avifauna, of which 6 are migratory and 51 resident species. It is also reported that about 40 species of wetland-dependent birds are recorded in the lake, out of which 45% are long-distance migrants. Terns, plovers, cormorants, and herons are most abundant birds in the lake. A study report has identified 45 insect species, including 26 species of butterfly, 5 odonates, 9 hymenopteras, and 2 orthopterans, 1 hemipteran and 2 coleopterans. About 29 zooplankton species have also been identified. The water body is found to have 9 phytoplanktons such as Amphora, Borosigma, Cyclotella, Cymbella, Gyrozigma, Meloziva, Navicula and Nitzschi.
Islands In The Lake:
Munroe Island (Munroethuruth) is a cluster of eight tiny islands in Ashtamudi Lake. Chavara South, a small village, an island within the Ashtamudi Lake, located 14 km (9 mt) away from Quilon on the National Highway NH 47, is reported to be mineral rich with number of factories for extraction and export of titanium and other minerals. Effluent from the factories is reported to be causing pollution of the lake waters.Thekkumbhagom island, situtaed on the bank of the Ashtamudi Lake, provides an enchanting natural beauty and also feel of rustic life of a village. An ancient 1000 year old temple and a 200 year old church are located here.