Kollam (Nelcynda) shares fame with Kodungallur (Muziris) as an ancient sea port on the Malabar coast of India from early centuries of the Christian era. Kollam had a sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Pliny (23-79 AD) mentions about Greek ships anchored at Musiris and Nelkanda. Musiris is identified with Kodungallur (then ruled by the Chera kingdom) and Nelkanda (Nelcyndis) with Quilon or Kollam (then under the Pandyan rule). Kollam was the chief port of the Pandyas on the West Coast and was connected with Korkai (Kayal) port on the East Coast and also through land route over the Western Ghats. Spices, pearls, diamonds and silk were exported to Egypt and Rome from these two ports on the South Western coast of India. Pearls and diamonds came from Ceylon and the South eastern coast of India, then known as the Pandyan kingdom.
Cosmas Indicopleustes, who visited Malabar Coast in 522 AD, mentions about Syrian Christians in Kollam. He wrote, "In the island of Tabropane (Ceylon), there is a church of Christians, and clerks and faithful. Likewise at Male where the pepper grows; and in the town of Kalliana there is also a bishop concentrated in Persia" (Reference: Travancore Manual). The Nestorian Patriarch Jesujabus who died in 660 A.D. makes special mention of Quilon in his letter to Simon, Metropolitan of Persia. In 822 A.D. two Nestorian Persian Bishops were sent to Kollam and Kodungallur to look after the Syrian Christian faithful. Mar Sapor was the Bishop of Kollam and Mar Peroz (Proth) was the Bishop of Kodungallur. Mar Sapor who is also called as Mar Abo lived his last years at Thevalakara. His remains were buried in the Martha Mariam Orthodox Church at Thevalakara which was built in the 4th century. This church which carries the tomb of Mar Sapor is 25 km far from Kollam City.
The Malayalam Era named after Quilon began in 824 AD. Malayalam Era is called 'Kolla Varsham' after Kollam, because of the importance of Kollam in the 9th century A.D. It signified the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals. (Reference: Travancore Manual page 244). For the services of the Syrian Christian merchants, King Stanu Ravi Gupta of Kollam, granted the copper plate grants in 824 A.D. to Mar Sapor Iso, transferring to the Tarasa Church and community in Quilon, lands near the city with hereditament of low caste slaves. (Reference: Travancore Manual page 244). Merchant Soleyman of Siraf of Persia visited Malabar in the middle of the 9th century and found Quilon to be the only port in India touched by the huge Chinese ships on their way from Canton to the Persian Gulf. The rulers of Kollam (formerly called 'Desinganadu') ,then, also had trade relations with China and exchanged embassies. According to the records of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD to 913 AD) (Reference: Travancore Manual, page 244), Quilon was their chief port of call and was given the name 'Mahlai' by them. The Chinese trade decreased about 900 AD and was again revived in the 13th century. Marco Polo, who visited China's Kublai Khan's court, on his return journey to venice, travelled through Kollam and gave an interesting account of the flourishing port of Kollam (Coilum, as referred to by him) and its trade relations with China in the East and the Western countries. Chinnakada, (China-kada), the city center, was so named after the Chinese merchants. The increase in commercial activity resulted in establishment of flourishing Chinese settlement at Kollam. Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller, who was in Chinese service under Kublai Khan visited Kollam in 1293 A.D. on his return trip from China to Venice. He found Christians and Jews living in Coilum (Kollam). He also found merchants from China and Arabia. He has given a detailed account of Kollam in his writings, that are reproduced in the Travancore Manual. According to Ibn Batuta, Kollam was one of the five ports, which he had seen in the course of his travels, in the 14th century. The Apostle Thomas is said to have founded one of his "seven and a half churches" in Kollam. The church founded by him was re-constructed three times because of sea erosion. The present church of Our lady purification or popularly known as Kollam port church is considered as the continuation of the one that founded by St.Thomas. This church is very near to QUILON PORT. From these seven and a half churches, including the one in Kollam, have multiplied thousands of churches, hospitals, orphanages and other Christian charities that cover India today. Marthamarian Orthodox church, Thevelakara is where Mar Abo, guru of kadamattahu kathanar, also know as Mar Sabor taking his eternal rest.this church constructed on 4th century and received tharissapally cheppadukal,which even started kollam era)