Kollam or Quilon is an old sea port and town on the Laccadive Sea coast in Kerala 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 Ibn Batuta, 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. Kollam later became the capital of the enlightened and liberal rulers of Desinganad. At the time of the integrating of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, Kollam was one of the three revenue divisions in the state. These three revenue divisions were converted into districts. Shencottah taluk was merged with Madras state consequent on the implementation of the state Reorganization Act of 1956.
The emergence of antiques from Kollam Port area reveals that Kollam was the most famous port city in India which served as the business hub of people from China, Middle East, Dutch, Portugal, Brazil and other Eastern Mediterranean countries. The archaeologists believe that there is an engulfed city in the seabed of current Kollam Port.
In January 2014, the port trust had discovered thousands of Chinese coins and stone age weapons from the Kollam Port which is revealing the amazing historic background and trade culture of the port city.
The Malayalam Era began in 825 AD; it is named 'Kolla Varsham' after Kollam, because of the importance of Kollam in the 9th century. Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal granted the tharisapalli plates copper plate grants in 825 AD to Nestorian Monk Mar S(abo)r Iso whom he invited to Kollam, transferring to the Tarsish Church and the community in the St. Thomas tradition of Quilon.
A merchant, Soleyman of Siraf of Persia, 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 their 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 AD to 913 AD), Quilon was their chief port of call before the 7th century AD. The Chinese trade decreased about 600 AD and was again revived in the 13th century. 'Mirablia Descripta' by Bishop Catalani gives a wonderful description of life in Kollam as seen by him as the Catholic Bishop designate to Kollam, the oldest Catholic Diocese in India. He also gives true and imaginative descriptions of life in 'India the Major' in the period before Marco Polo visited the city.