Kolla varsham- that is what we call the Malayalam calendar.
The interesting aspect is that here again we have two versions, the Malabar
version and the Travancore version, the former centered on Pantalayani Kollam
near Calicut and the latter around Kurkeni Kollam or todays Quilon. In some old
records they are mentioned by experts like Kielhorn and Sundarama Pillai as the
Trivandrum calendar and the Calicut calendar. The two calendars are separated
by a month with the year starting in August in Calicut and September in Quilon.
But getting to the well accepted Kurkeni Kollam calendar, how would one explain
the origins of this calendar, so different from some of the others of the
region, like the Tamil calendar? Let’s take a look at the various legends,
theories and stories. None may provide a clinching answer, and as usual, various
communities and groups are satisfied by the one they empathise with!
Herman Gundart however was of the opinion that the “Kolla Varsham” started with the erection of a ‘Siva’ temple at Kollam. But this does not make sense as there is no such temple and the establishment of a temple cannot be the reason to create a new calendar. Others mention that its origination was strictly local and religious, and “Kolla Varsham” was not accepted by the people living in other regions, but, when Kollam or Quilon became a major trade center trading with the east and the West, the traders and the people of other countries began to follow “Kolla Varsham”. But then how do you explain the Northern Quilon? Now could it be to commemorate the establishment of both Pantalayani and Kurkeni Kollam port towns? Unlikely since both of them were popular centuries before the Kollam calendar was formed. But a usage Kollam Tontri allows us to conclude literally that it was after the establishment of a port of Kollam, or perhaps more correctly after the establishment of the Kollam era. Sanskrit texts incidentally mention the Kollam era as the Kolamba era. Tamil texts name the area around Quilon as Kolamaba so it was perhaps associated with Quilon in the South.
Miscellaneous Travancore inscriptions – P Sundaram Pillai
Kollam era - KV Sarma
Survey of Kerala History – Sreedhara Menon
Cera- Pandya conflict in the 8th – 9th centuries which led to the birth of Venad- Narayan,MGS,