- The Land of Mystic Greenery
Flanked by rivers, covered with velvet meadows and pacified by cool
mountain breeze, this gracious land is just a heaven on earth.
Sandwiched between the gorgeous Vembanad Lake and gentle hills, Kottayam
boasts of a picturesque backdrop with palm fringed backwaters on the
west and the majestic Western Ghats on the east. The place is home to a
number of globally renowned newspapers and has played a lead part in
boosting the states publishing industry.
Kottayam came into limelight with an enviable title as the first fully literate district in India, the city is renowned as a centre of excellence in education and literature. It is the gateway to the pilgrim centers of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor, Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcaud and more. The place keeps well organized rubber plantations which are considered to be the major cash crop in Kottayam. Scattered with a network of canals and lakes, Kottayam is also known for its toddy tappers.
- Tourism Attractions
Breathtakingly gorgeous paradise packed with divine mangroves and lush green paddy fields, Kumarakom is one of the fast developing backwater tourism destinations in Kottayam. Located near the Vembanad Lake, the place promises exciting sightseeing vistas with its numerous lakes dotted with houseboats and canoes. The numerous traditional country crafts found here reflect the fine craftsmanship of the artisans. The serenity of Kumarakom has made it the ideal destination to spend a vacation rich with Ayurvedic massages and treatments. Centers for yoga, meditation can also be found in plenty. Planning a vacation during the time of Onam come with a dual advantage of watching the adrenalin packed water regattas. What adds to the beauty of the race is that you get to see 50 different types of boats during the event.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary :
Ornithologists delight - Kumarakom Bird sanctuary spreading around 14 acres is anchored on the banks of Vembanad Lake. The sanctuary serves as a favorite haven for the migratory birds like the Siberian Stork, Egret, Darter, Heron and Teal. To add more fun-factor to the trip, one can also go cruising along the lake. This could fetch you a spectacular view of Pathiramanal- a small island anchored on the Kumarakom- Muhamma water route.
Vembanad Lake :
Kottayam packs in a vast network of rivers and canals, which empty into the enormous stretch of water called the Vembanad Lake. This is an enchanting picnic spot where traditional Cargo boats (also known as Kettuvallams) are modified into cruise boats and house boats, with all the facilities of a luxury hotel including kitchenette, bathrooms and sit-outs. The midnight sands or Pathiramanal, the only island in the Vembanad Lake, can also be visited by boat.
Pala and Kanjirapally :
Sprinkled with well organized rubber plantations, these places have their name written with golden letters in the economic chronicles of the state. Nature nourishes this land of exceptional features with two rivers - Meenachil and Manimala, which in turn are a boon to farmers.
This is yet another slice of nature for tourists where the subtle charm of nature is reflected in every detail. Elaveezhapoonchira, a valley where leaves dont fall, got its name with its lack of trees. The place is accessible from Pala and is located amidst fine-looking hillocks. This hill station (3000 m above sea level) near Melukkavu Mattom, 60 km from Kottayam, is punctuated by gigantic hills. A haven for mountaineering and trekking, this place is also a hotspot to witness sunset and sunrise. Set amidst the beautiful hillocks of Mankunnu, Kudayatoormala, Thonippara and Poonchira, this valley fills up to form a scenic lake during monsoons.
Boasting of a European model house and an artificial lake (both constructed by the famous architect Laurie Baker) Kurisumala is located on the border of Kottayam and Idukki districts. The place is renowned for the Christian pilgrims who flock to here during the Holy week. Devotees climb this rocky hill carrying a small wooden cross on their hands which they believe will reduce their burden of sins and cure diseases. The place is just 3 km from Vazhikkakadavu. There is a rock cut temple at Murugan Mala, to the eastern side of Kurisumala, dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Siva).
Vaikom has its name inscribed in the chronicles of Indian freedom struggle as the place where Mahatma Gandhi took part in the sathyagraha. Located on the western side of Kottayam and sharing borders with Vembanad Lake, the place is also renowned as Thekkan Kashi (southern Varanassi) for the Mahadeva Temple here. The temple is famous for Ashtami (Vaikkathashtami) Celebrations. With vast emerald backwaters and lush green nature, the place has a high potential for tourism. Spending a vacation cruising along the Vembanad Lake, listening to the chirping of birds is sure to linger in the memories forever. The numerous fishing villages and the tribal hamlets here add to the beauty of Vaikom.
Vayaskara and Chirattamon :
Vayaskara and Chirattamon are famous for the full-fledged Ayurvedic treatment and therapy centers.
Dotted with tea gardens, meadows and majestic waterfalls, this fantastic strip of land is on Idukki - Kottayam border. Located 64 km from Kottayam and 65 km from Idukki, Wagamon is set at an altitude of 1100 meter above sea level, making it the trekkers paradise. The 3 hills - Murugan Mala, Kurisumala, And Thangal Hill, further accentuate the beauty of Wagamon. Though making a visit during the monsoons could surprise you with heavy downpours, it is the right time for ayurvedic therapies and treatments. Dont you worry, ayurvedic rejuvenation centers can be found in plenty here. Thriving with exotic and gorgeous waterfalls hanging from the steep and sloppy hills, Wagamon has surprises galore to offer the eager tourist.
Poonjar palace :
On Pala-Erattupetta route stands this glorious palace rich with antiques, rock cut lamps and sculptures - everything exuding a royal charm. One can also get rare glimpses of chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, royal furniture, jewel boxes, sculptures of Nataraja (the dancing Siva), grain measures, and more. Palanquin, a canoe carved out of single piece of wood, stands out from the rest with its unique beauty and artistic finesse. There is also an amazing replica of the fabled Madurai Meenakshi Temple next to the palace. The walls of this temple are engraved with stories from the Puranas (ancient literatures).
This is a magnificent cave set in the Murugan hills at Kurishumala, welcoming the visitors with a series of steps cut in rocks. Once inside the cave, one gets the rare glimpses of the rocks carved like chairs and couches. There are also figures of Ayyappa, Murugan, Kannaki and Madurai Meenakshi inside the cave. The legend attached to the history of the cave says that the royal family from Madurai took rest here in this cave during their journey to Poonjar.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls :
Set amidst rough rocks and rubber plantations, this waterfall falls down from an astonishing height of 100 feet. This sparkling waterfall is just 2 km down a mud lane from Kumarakom and 18 km away from Kottayam.
Portraying a spiritual picture of Hindu- Muslim harmony, Erumeli is fabled for its Sastha Temple and Vavar Mosque. The presiding deity at the temple is Sri Dharma Sasta. Pilgrims flock in thousands during the season of Mandala and Makaravilakku. Erumeli is famous for the Pettathullal ceremony- a Hindu religious practice the devotees perform as a part of their Sabarimala pilgrimage. The pilgrims who visit the Sastha temple also pay a visit to the Vavar mosque and offer dakshina to a mosque representative.
The Siva temple in Ettumanoor is famous for its murals, especially the paintings of Nataraja in the Gopuram. The temple, considered to be the wealthiest Devaswom in Kerala, has many priced possessions. The place gets packed with devotees during the Ezharaponnana Ezhunnallatthu festival in Khumbhom (februvary-march). On the 8th day of the festival seven and half elephants (ezharaponnaana in Malayalam) will be displayed for public view.
Acclaimed as the Mookkambika of the South, the Saraswathy Temple (Goddess of learning and arts) is known for the Saraswathy pooja held in the month of Thulam (October-November).
Thirunakkara : The old Siva temple here is 500 years old and is built by the Thekkumkoor Maharaja. The Koothambalam (theatre hall where ancient dramatic art forms are perfomed) of the temple is renowned for Chakkiyar Koothu performances. The temple celebrates its major festival with full glory in Thulam (October-November).
The Thiruvarppu Sri Krishna Temple is noted for its 10 day long festival celebrated in the month of April. The temple, located 10 km from Kottayam town, is also known for Usha (sweet porridge) which is the main offering to God.
Kumaranellor temple is dedicated to Karthiyayani Devi and is noted for the Thrikkarthika Day celebrated in the month of Vrishchikam (November - December). The temple and the premises will be lit up with lights and more lights on this special day.
Renowned for Chakyarkooth (a temple art), Kidangoor is just 23 km from Kottayam. The place is noted for the Subramannia temple where a 10 day long festival is celebrated in Kumbhom (February-March).
The diety at the Thalikkotta Shiva Temple is Lord Shiva. The temple is noted for the annual 10 day long festival celebrated in the month of April-May and the Shivarathri festival. The temple is just 2 km away from Kottayam town.
Bharananganam St.Marys church :
Known as Anakkallu Palli, the place is an important pilgrim center for Christians. Mortal remains of the blessed Sister Alphonsa (the first female saint from India), are entombed here. Thousands of pilgrims gather at the church during the month of July when the annual festival- Feast of the Blesses Alphonsa is celebrated. The church is located at a distance of 5 km from Pala.
Aruvithara St.George church :
One of the old churches in India, Aruvithara St George Church is believed to be established by St. Thomas and is situated near Erattupetta. The church was reconstructed in the 16th century and the feast here is celebrated in the month of April.
Manarcad St.Marys Church :
This is a significant one among the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Churches in Kerala. Main annual event is Ettunompu (8 day fasting) when devotees from far and near assemble in thousands for prayers and rituals.
The mosques Pazhayapalli (more than 1000 years old and donated by king of Thekkumkur) and Puthiyapalli (400 years of old) are noted for the Chandanakkudam festival held in the month of January. The grand community festival as part of Thangal Adiyanthiram is marked with delicious Biriyani made of two tones of rice and meat donated by devotees.
Exuding the spirit of Hindu and Muslim community, the mosque is in the name of Vavar (a great friend of Ayyappa). January is marked with the famous Chandanakkudam festival when people from every walks of life flock here for celebration. The celebration here coincides with the Makaravilakku festival of Sabarimala. Attractive processions with Panchavadyam and caparisoned elephants add on to its charisma.
What makes this mosque acclaimed is its artistic value. The mosque is one of the oldest in India and is anchored on the Meenachil River. The mosque is believed to be built by Malik Dinar about 1000 years ago.
- Things To Do
Never miss the series of boat races held during the Onam Season in Vembanad Lake. What adds more zing to the event is that viewers get to see diverse varieties of boats including Veppu, Chundan and more.
For those with a penchant for action-packed adventure, Kottayam has surprises galore to offer. Go trekking and explore the many wonders hidden in the dense greenery of the Western Ghats and Wagamon.
The best time to shop in Kottayam is from 9.30 am to 8 pm. Most of the
shops here are located on the stretch of Kottayam-Kumily road (better
known as KK road), which passes through the town. A trip to the much
fabled Baker Junction can also add to your shopping experience.
- Moving Around
You can hire a car either from a government approved agency or from
private operators. If you prefer a cheaper mode of transport, opt for an
auto rickshaw. Kottayam is well connected with its rural places with
private and government run buses.
- Best Time To Visit
September to March
- How to Reach
By Flight :
Nearest airport, Cochin International Airport Limited, is at a distance of 76 km and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is at a distance of 150 km.
By Rail :
The main railway station in Kottayam is situated just 2 km away from the Central Bus Station. Regular trains to Thiruvananthapuram (165 km), Ernakulam (65 km) and almost all express and superfast trains have a stop at Kottayam. Changanassery, Chingavanam, Kottayam, Ettumanoor, Kuruppanthara, Vaikom Road and Piravom Road are the major railway stations in the district.
By Road :
Kottayam is well connected with all the major places in Kerala with M.C road and state highways like S.H 9, S H 13,S H 32 ,S H 14 ,SH 11 and SH 15. Busses connecting nearly all the major centers in Kerala can be accessed from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus station on T.B. Road and a private bus stand near the Railhead.