Kottayam district is popularly referred as the “Land of lakes, latex and letters”. It is one of the most industrially developed districts of the State. The district is also a large producer of rubber, coconut, tea, coffee and pepper. It has the distinction of being the highest literate district in the country and kottayam was the first total literate town in the country. The district is also known for large number of temples, churches and mosques. It is the beautiful backwater town is set on the foot hills of the Western Ghats. It is a stronghold of the Christian community and is dotted with ancient churches. It is also an important trading centre especially for cash crops like rubber, tea, pepper and cardamom.
Kottayam is also referred as the “Mecca of Publishing Industry” in the Kerala State. It is home to many prestigious newspapers , magazines and periodicals in Malayalam and English. Benjamin Bailey, a Christian Missionary in 1820 established the country’s first printing press in Vernacular (Malayalam)in Kottayam.It is also an ideal base to visit tourist centers like Piremeedu,Munnar, Idukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam and Madurai.
The breath taking beauty of the mangrove forest, the green sea of the paddy fields and the vast fantastic coconut groves benevolently accommodating eye pleasing and
thirst quenching rivulets, canals, chanelled between wild flora and mid lilies extend a warm welcome to every nature loving tourist. The resorts nearby offer comfortable accommodation and exclusive leisure options like an ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, fishing , angling and swimming. Kumarakom is located 10km away from Kottayam on the Eastern Bank of Vembanad Lake.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
The beautiful bird sanctuary is located 16km west of Kottayam town. The sanctuary set on the eastern bank of Vembanad Lake extends over 14 acres of lush greenery and blue waters. The birds seen here includes local birds like water fowl, cuckoo, owl, ducks, egret, heron, cormorant, moorhen, darter, Brahminy Kite and rare migratory birds like Siberian crane, Parrot, Teal, flycatcher. Best time to visit is between June and August. This is also an ideal site for enjoying the backwaters and boat cruise. Boats are available on hire around the lake.
The Vembanad lake
Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. The lake, an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, provides boating, fishing and sight-seeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom Eco-Tourist Village offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta- the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing.
This enchanting pristine ten acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. This island in the Vembanad lake is accessible only by boat from Kumarakom and Muhamma.From today onwards this Pathirammanal has to be raised up as a bio-park by the Toruism department of Kerala.
This spot extends to about 20 acres in area and is about 2000ft in altitude. The legend says that “The Pancha Pandavas”, the five Pandava brothers, sons of king Pandu and his spouse Kunthidevi spent certain number of days here during their tenure of exile.It is also believed that the name of the place was originally, “Anchupara” meaning five rocks and has later become to be known by the present name as time rolled by. However, some attribute the name to the temple dedicated to “Lord Ayyappa” here. Four sturdy pillars support the rock – roof of the temple. The mountain and every part of the nature here condition the wind into a pleasantly cool breeze. There is also a cave which can hold up to 15 persons.This is also a spot to admire sunset.
It is situated in the Western Ghats is 5 km north of Mundakkayan in Kottayam district. The majesty of the mountain ranges combined with the beauty of the forest and the artificial lake created by the check-dam of the Manimala river makes the spot linger in your mind.Amruthameda, famous for medicinal plants is nearby Koottickal is well connected by roads to the main cities.Erumeli, the famous pilgrim centre is only 12km south, while Sabarimala is 60km away. The waterfall at Vadakkemala, near Koottickal is another attraction.
Vagamon is about 18km from Erattupetta, 60km from Kottayam and 30km from Pala situated on the Idukki- Kottayam border at an elevation of 1100mtrs above sea level is a trekker’s paradise. This place is the breeding centre of “Kerala livestock Board”. This is again a typical Kerala hill station with bountiful tea- gardens and stimulating a sky scraping mountain with a small church on its peak and the Kurishumala Ashramam, a monastery atop another hill.
Paragliding is regarded as perhaps the most exhilarating from flying and the earlier and the simplest for of human flight. Located near the Indo Swiss Project at Kolahalamedu near Vagamon, the site has a ridge of 10 kilimeters and is 1156 meter above sea level. This site is one of the biggest in Asia. A number of training programmes in paragliding is available.
“The valley where leaves do not fall”is what the very name of the domain means as it is devoid of trees. The startlingly beautiful valleys of here spanning over thousands of acres contribute in great deal of the natural attractions of Kottayam. The four distinct mountains soaring to heights of around 3200ft, completely green deserve special mention. The valleys look entirely different when the gracious rains fill them up to form awesome lakes. This is one of the ideal sports to watch both Sunrise and Sunset. Thus the place offers dawn to dusk enchantment.
As the name suggests, the valley of this rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror like perfection. This is also the highest point in Illaveezhapoonchira. Just 3km from here is the Pazhakakanam Plateau nourished by the Kadapuzha River. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place exotic. An added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfalls that playfully cascade down the mountain and greet the river below with a magnificent splash.
This waterfall lie a few kilometers away from Erattupetta. It is exactly 7km from Teekoy rubber estate. From here a private vehicle can take you further 2km after which the road is not motorable. To each the falls one has to trek through the estate over the rocky path. The waterfall is about 60mtrs in height falling into a 12mtr deep pool and joins the Teekoy river way down.
It is situated 7kms from the Mundakkayam-Kuttikanam stretch on the Kottayam –Kumili road lies Panchalimedu, at an attitude of about 2500 feet above the sea level. A three hour trek from Valliankavu which is connected by bus service from Kottayam takes you to the spot. Valliankavu, a tiny village 10kms east of Mundakkayam itself is worth a visit, for it is the site of the famous temple of Mala Araya community. According to legends, the
Pandavas stayed here and the pond beside a small temple is where Panchali, is said to have bathed.
Kesari Water Falls
The Kesari Falls otherwise known as Valanjamkanam Falls lies in between Kuttikanam and Murinjapuzha on the Kottayam- Kumili route.Valanjamkanam is a three hour journey from Kottayam by any bus to Kumily .Trek to Kuttikanam; 4km offers additional adventurous spirit and closeness to nature.
This consists of three hills, each of a peculiar shape, such as Kudakallu (Umbrella shaped rock) for one. Medicinal herbs like Neela Koduveli, believed to have super natural powers grown here. Another hill is the Konnu Kallu or “Hunch back rock”. Wide bridge called Nara-ka-palam (bridge to hell).From the hilltops, the Arabian Sea can be seen in the distant horizon as a thin blue line.
This palace stands tall as a genuine repository to a rare and a large collection of regal antiques, pristine artefacts, extraordinary furniture etc. A fabulous palanquin, a “Thoni” made out of a single piece of quality wood ad hoc for “ Ayurvedic” massages, a hanging light with arms for holding lamps, traditional palm leaf scriptures, decorated jewel boxes, sculptures of Lord Nataraja, the dancing form of Lord Siva, grain measures of the olden days, statues and armory are to name a few. As part of an annual ritual, a conch is taken on a procession. At a stone’s throw from the palace, there stands a temple identical to that of Madurai Sri Meenakshi. The wall sculptures tell stories from the Puranas. Another temple in the proximity is the “Sastha Temple” dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in which a rare row of stone wall lamps known as the “Chuttuvilakku” is famous.
This is the one of the highest waterfalls in Kerala gushing down from a height of 235feet. Aruvikachal is located in Poonjar Thekkekara village and can be accessed from Erattupetta. The waterfalls is located a couple of kilometers from Patampuzha junction. Adivaram, Ummikunnu, Puliyallu, Muttanallu, Parayambalam etc are some of the scienic spotsm scattered around Aruvikachal. The 3500ft high Mutukoramala offers spectacular views.
The word “ Ramapuram” means “ the abode of Lord Rama”. True to its name the village has its Chief deity Lord Sreerama.Ramapuram is unique in the sense that it houses the temples of Rama as well as his three brothers in its vicinity in a radius of just three kms- Lord Bhartha at Amanakara, Lakshmana at Kedapuram and Sathrughana at Methiri. Ramapuram, a beautiful and quiet village is located 15km from Pala town on the main road to Koothattukulam.This small village was the birth place of Ramaputrathu Warrier, the profounder of Vanchipattu.Ramapuram also is blessed with its old church and its famous missionaries –Parmekkal Thoma Kathanar and Daivadasan Thevarparambil Kunjachan.
Vennimala is located nearly 15km from the Kottayam town and can be accessed easily through the Kottayam-Kumili road at Manarcaud Junction. The major attractions at Vennimala are its age old Lord Sreerama and Lakshmana temple.
Located amidst shady rubber plantations, streams tinkle as they make their way through the rugged landscape and roars down cascading from a height of hundred feet. The beautiful picnic spot is located at Pallickathodu 25km from Kottayam town and hence easily accessible.
Alapara is a scienc place with forests all around. There are 2, 500 acre forest called Poothanpuzha kuti vanam in the vicinity. This forest spreads over the districts of Kottayam and Pathannamthitta.The forest harbors deer, wild boar, fox, phythoms, other small creatures and a variety of avifauna. There are nearly twenty small streams in the forest.
Pilgrim Centres of Kottayam
The place can be accessed from Kottayam through Pampadi.Matrumala is a hill top that offers stunning views of the entire surroundings. The place got its name as it has a small temple on its top dedicated to Goddess.
Situated 60km South – East of Kottayam, it is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre and located on the bank of the Manimala River.Piligrims going to Sabarimala alight here to worship at the Sastha Temple and offer prayers at an ancient mosque. The mosque is dedicated to Vavar, a companion of the deity Sree Ayyappa.
The Thacharickal Bhagawati temple is the only place in Kottayam district where the folk art of Padayani is performed.Alapara is surrounded by lush forests and is located 45km from Kottayam, 5km from Manimala junction and 10km from Erumeli. Other attractions are Sankupathalam waterfalls, Oottupara view point, caves and muniyaras.
The Valiya Palli ( St.Mary’s Church)
The Valia Palli built in 1550 AD for the Knanaya Orthodox Syrians is situated in Thazhathangadi, 2km from the town centre. It is famous for its 8th century Persian Cross with the Pahlavi inscription on it.
The Cheria Palli (St.Mary’s Church):
Located near the Valia Palli, the smaller church of Cheria Palli built in 1579AD has some murals and paintings depicting Biblical and other themes.
Thazhathangadi – Juma Masjid:
The famous ancient mosque at Thazhathangadi and Thalikotta Palace are another attraction to devotees.
St.Mary’s Church, Manarcaud
Situated 9km from Kottayam town, it is one of the most important churches of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christians. The Ettunoyaambu (8days fasting) is the major annual event when thousands of devotees from various places participate in the prayers and rituals.
St.Mary’s Church, Kudamaloor
This church, 800yrs old, was built by Chempakasseri Maharajah. The ritual offering here is a traditional water bag and rope used to draw water from the well. The Kudamaloor Vasudevapuram Temple is equally famous.
St.Thomas Church, Cherpungal
Believed to have been established by the apostle St.Thomas, this church was relocated to the southern banks of the Meenachil River with the cooperation of poet Kunchan Nambiar and his family. In 1107, the Valiapalli was built on the orginal site. Oil poured into lamps and kept before the image of Infant Jesus is the votive offering here- a ritual similar to the devotional practices of Hindus.
It is an important Christian pilgrimage centre- the place where the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa was interned in a chapel next to the St.Mary’s Church. This 1000year old church features an attractive Grotto of Virgin Mary.
An important Syrian Christian Centre, the town of Mannanam, 8km from Kottayam, sites the St.Joseph’s Monastery, associated with the name of Fr.Kuriakose Elias of Chavara, one of the Saintly figures of the Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala. Among renowned institutions here is the St.Joseph’s Press. Established in 1844, this is one of the oldest printing presses in Kerala.It printed the Nasrani Deepika, one of Kerala’s oldest newspapers.
Vaikom, 40km from Kottayam is famed for the Siva temple which according to legend was constructed by Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala.In contemporary history Vaikom’s prominence derives from the Sathyagraha of 1925, blessed by Mahatma Gandhi and aimed at throwing open the temple’s doors to Harijans.