Set on the foothills of the Western Ghats in the east and the rich green paddy fields in the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics. With the panoramic Kerala backwaters, lush paddy fields, highlands and rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given the district the title: the “Land of lakes, latex and letters”. It is one of the most industrially developed districts of the State and the large producer of rubber, coconut, tea, coffee and pepper. It is the strong hold of the Christian community and is known for number of temples, mosques and ancient churches.
It is the home to many prestigious newspapers, magazines and periodicals in Malayalam and English and is popularly referred as the “Mecca of Publishing Industry” in Kerala. This land boasts of the country’s first printing press, which was established by Bailey, a Christian Missionary in 1820. Kottayam is an ideal base to visit tourist centers like Piremeedu, Munnar, Idukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam and Madurai.
Kumarakom Set on the background of green paddy fields, still grey waters and mangrove forest this picturesque village is situated 10 kms away from Kottayam. Kumarakkom is actually a set of small islands on the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake. With its enchanting waterways and canals, this small water world will give a feast to every nature-loving tourist. The resorts nearby offer comfortable accommodation and exclusive leisure options like an Kerala ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, fishing, angling and swimming.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary Situated on the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary extends over a vast area of 14 acres. The bird sanctuary is located 16 km west of Kottayam town and surrounded by lush greenery and pristine Kerala backwaters. It’s a favorite place for migratory birds like Siberian crane, Parrot, Teal, flycatcher etc. Other common varieties like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl, ducks, egret, heron, cormorant, moorhen, darter and Brahminy Kite are also been seen here. A cruise along the backwaters is the best way to enjoy the sanctuary. The best season to visit this sanctuary is during the months of June and August and tourists can avail the boats on hire.
The Vembanad Lake
The vembanad lake consists of a network of rivers and canals. The lake is an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing Kerala backwater tourism destination. These lakes provide facilities like boating, fishing and sightseeing that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom Eco-Tourist Village offers Kerala houseboat cruises and Kerala holiday packages. During the Onam season, the lake is alive with the spectacular water regatta – the snake boat race. It is indeed an amazing scene to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, sliding their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their singing.
This ten acre island on the beautiful Kerala backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. This magnificent island is accessible only by boat from Kumarakom and Muhamma. It has been raised to a bio-park by the Kerala Tourism.
This scenic spot spread over 20 acres in area is situated 2000ft above sea level. According to legends, the five Pandava brothers – the heroes of the epic Mahabharatha stayed here, during the period of their exile. It is believed that the name of this rock has been originally called, “Anchupara” which means five rocks, has been later modified into ‘Ayyapara’. However, some say that the name owes its origin to the Ayyappa temple here. This temple has four sturdy pillars, which supports a rock that forms the roof. There is cave in the rock that can accommodate over 15 people. The cool mountain breeze along with the nature will give a cooling effect to both your body and soul. This place is beautiful to admire the sunset.
Kootickal is 5 kilometers north of Mundakayam. With the majesty of the Western Ghats, these mountain ranges combined with the beauty of the forest, and the artificial lake created by the check-dam of the river Manimala, makes the spot linger in your mind. Amruthameda, famous for medicinal plants, is nearby. The waterfall at Vadakkemala, is another attraction. Koottickal is well connected by roads and the famous pilgrim centers Erumeli is only 12 km south and Sabarimala 60km.
The Vagamon high range situated on the Idukki- Kottayam border at an elevation of 1100 mtrs above sea level is a trekker’s paradise. This enchanting Kerala hill station with the sprawling tea estates is an ideal getaway. Kurishumala, an important Christian pilgrim centre, with a church atop a hill and a monastery called Kurishumala Ashramam is situated in Vagamon. The breeding centre for Kerala livestock Board is located here. These high ranges are also famous for Paragliding and training programmes for paragliding is available.
Ilaveezhapoonchira, which means ‘the valley where leaves don’t fall’, is named so because the place has no trees. These beautiful valleys of Illaveezhapoonchira spread across thousands of acres. The four distinct mountains, each rising to around 3200ft is an ideal place to mention. This is one of the ideal places in ‘God’s own country’ to enjoy both Sunrise and Sunset.
Kannadipara is the highest point in Ilaveezhapoonchira. As the name suggests, the valley of this rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror like perfection. Nourished by the Kadapuzha River is the Pazhakakanam Plateau, which is 3 kms from here. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place beautiful. Another added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfall that ripples down the mountain to greet the river below with a magnificent splash.
Exactly 7km from Teekoy rubber estate, this waterfall lies a few kilometers away from Erattupetta. To reach the waterfalls one has to trek through the estate over the rocky path. The waterfall comes from a height of 60mtr and falls into a 12mtr deep pool to join the Teekoy river way down.
A three-hour trek from Valliankavu, which is 10 kms east to Mundakkayam is the famous Panchalimedu. According to legends, the five pandava brothers spent some time here during the time of exile. The name ‘Panchalimedu’ itself is derived from’ Panchali’, another name for Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas. The Pond, near by is said to have been used by Panchali. This site is also famous for the temple of Mala Araya community.
Kesari Water Falls
The Kesari Falls also known as Valanjamkanam Falls is a three-hour bus journey from Kottayam. This picturesque waterfall lies in between Kuttikanam and Murinjapuzha on the Kottayam – Kumily route. Kuttikanam, which is 4 km from here, offers trekking, which is ideal for adventure lovers.
Illickal Kallu consists of three hills and each of these hills has a peculiar shape. One of them resembles to the shape of a Kudakallu (Umbrella shaped rock), and hence got its name. It is said that the Medicinal herb Neela Koduveli , which is believed to have super natural powers, grows here. Another hill, has a small hunch on the sides, and therefore known as ‘Konnu Kallu’ or “Hunch back rock”. Across the rock is a wide bridge called Narakapalam (bridge to hell). You can see the Arabian sea in the distant horizon as a thin blue line from the hilltops.
Poonjar Palace is a showcase the riches and fortunes of a bygone era. The palace has a rich collection of antiques, artefacts and exquisite furniture, which includes a palanquin, a “thoni”, carved out of a single piece of wood- used for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf scriptures, decorated jewel boxes, sculptures of Lord Nataraja (dancing form of Lord Siva), , grain measures, statues and armory. A conch is preserved here, which will be taken out once in a year for ritualistic procession. Near the palace complex, there are two temples; one is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi temple. The walls of this temple bear scultures, which narrate the stories from the puranas. Another temple is the Sastha Temple” dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The ‘Chuttuvilakku’( row of lamps), carved out of stone walls here is very famous.
This is a breathtaking waterfall, where water roars from a height of 235feet. Aruvikachal is located in Poonjar Thekkekara village, which can be easily accessed from Erattupetta. Some of the beautiful picnic spots scattered in and around Aruvikachal are Adivaram, Ummikunnu, Puliyallu, Muttanallu, Parayambalam etc. The 3500ft high Mutukoramala offers special attraction.
This town in Kottayam district got its name from the village’s chief deity ‘Lord Sree Rama’. The word “Ramapuram” means “the abode of Lord Rama”. This place houses the temples of Rama as well as his three brothers within a radius of just three kms- Lord Bhartha at Amanakara, Lakshmana at Kedapuram and Sathrughana at Methiri. This village is also the birthplace of the famous Ramaputrathu Warrier, the profounder of ‘Vanchipattu’. It is also famous for its old church and its missionaries like Parmekkal Thoma Kathanar and Daivadasan Thevarparambil Kunjachan.
Located 15 km from the Kottayam town, Vennimala is famous for its age-old temples of Lord Sreerama and Lakshmana Aruvikkuzhy Waterfalls It’s a beautiful picnic spot where streams tinkle as they make their way through the rugged landscape and water roars down cascading from a height of hundred feet. Amidst in the shady rubber plantations, this scenic spot is located at Pallickathodu, 25km from Kottayam town.
This picturesque place covered over a vast area of 2,500 acres of forest is located over the districts of Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. The forest is a harbor of number of species like deer, wild boar, fox, pythons etc. It offers a rich collection of diverse flora and avifauna. There are about twenty small streams running through the forest.
Pilgrim Centres of Kottayam
This place got its name from the Goddess of the temple situated on the hilltop. This place offers stunning view of thenearby surroundings. This place can be accessed from Kottayam – Pampady route.
Vavar MosqueSituated on the banks of Manimala River, Erumeli is an important Hindu pilgrim centre. It is an epitome of religious harmony where devotees come to worship both Sastha and offer prayers in the mosque to Vavar, the companion of Lord Ayappa.
Amidst the lush forests, Alapara is the only place in Kottayam district where the folk art of Kerala, Padayani is performed. Sankupathalam waterfalls, Oottupara viewpoint, caves and muniyaras are other places of interest nearby.
The Valiya Palli ( St.Mary’s Church)
Built in 1550 AD, this church in Thazhathangadi belongs to the Knanaya Orthodox Syrian Christians. This church is famous for its 8th century Persian Cross with the Pahlavi inscription on it.
The Cheriapally (St.Mary’s Church):
Built in 1579 AD, this church is located near the Valia Palli. The walls of this church is adorned with beautiful murals and paintings depicting Biblical and non biblical themes
Cheriapally – Juma Masjid:
This ancient mosque at Thazhathangadi and Thalikotta Palace are the other attractions to devotees.
St.Mary’s Church, Manarcad
Situated 9km from Kottayam town, this 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 pilgrims from all parts and all faith congregate to participate in the prayers and rituals. The church is situated 9km from Kottayam town.
St.Mary’s Church, Kudamaloor
St.Mary’s church, the tomb of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara situates, is also under this parishThis 800 years old church was built by Chempakasseri Maharajah. The main ritual offering of this church is the traditional water bag and rope, which is used to draw water from the well. The Kudamaloor Vasudevapuram Temple nearby is equally famous.
St.Thomas Church, Cherpunkal
This church is said to be laid by the apostle St.Thomas. Later this church was shifted to the southern banks of the Meenachil River with the cooperation of poet Kunchan Nambiar and his family. In 1107, a new church that is the valiapalli was constructed on the original site. The votive offering here is the oil poured into the lamps that are kept before the image of Infant Jesus. This ritual is similar to the devotional practice of the Hindus.
The mortal remains of Saint Alphonsa, the first women saint from India is kept in a chapel next to the St.Mary’s Church. It is one of the important Christian pilgrimage centre in Kerala. This 1000-year-old ancient church is famous for its attractive Grotto of Virgin Mary.
Located, 8km from Kottayam, Mannanam is an important pilgrimme centre for Syrian Christians. The St.Joseph’s Monastery here is associated with the name of Saint Fr.Kuriakose Elias of Chavara. Mannanam is home to many prestigious institutions. One among them is the famous St.Joseph’s Press, one of the oldest presses in Kerala. Established in 1844, this press implemented the bringing up of ‘Nasrani Deepika’, one of Kerala’s oldest newspapers.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom, which is 40km away from Kottayam district, is famous for the renowned Vaikom sathyagrapha of 1925. Blessed by Mahatma Gandhi this sathyagrapha aimed at throwing the temple doors open to Harijans. The Vaikom Siva temple here is famous. According to legends this temple was constructed by lord Parasurama, the mentor of the state Kerala.