Kottayam is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. It is located in central Kerala and is also the administrative capital of Kottayam district.
Bordered by the lofty and mighty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, hills and hillocks, extensive rubber plantations, places associated with many legends and a totally literate people have given Kottayam District the enviable title: The land of letters, legends, latex and lakes. The city is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber.
Most of India's natural rubber originates from the acres of well-kept plantations of Kottayam, also home to the Rubber Board. Kottayam is also called as "Akshara Nagari" which means the "city of letters" considering its contribution to print media and literature. Kottayam Town is the first town in India to have achieved 100% literacy (a remarkable feat achieved as early as in 1989). English education in South India did actually start at the Old Seminary here at Kottayam in 1813.
The first printing press in Kerala was established (CMS Press) here in 1821 by Rev.Benjamin Baily. The first college in the State (CMS College) was also started here at Kottayam in 1840. Maiden printed Malayalam-English and English-Malayalam Dictionaries were published from Kottayam in 1846 and 1847 respectively. The first and only Cooperative Society of writers, authors and publishers (SPCS), for publishing books and periodicals was set up here in 1945.
Kottayam is the hometown of a vast number of books and periodicals and is the center of publishing business in the State. Kottayam is the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.
The Sri K R Narayanan, the former President of India hails from Kottayam District. Kottayam is the ideal take off point for visits to Peermade, Munnar, Thekkady, Ernakulam and the temple city, Madurai. It is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor, Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcaud, and so on.
Kottayam District Map :
KOTTAYAM TOWN – “Mecca of Publishing Industry”, home of periodicals.
Valiapalli Church / St. Mary’s Church (2 km) – Built in 1550. Known for its two 8th century Persian granite Crosses with Pahlavi inscriptions.
St. Mary’s Church, Cheriapalli (2 km) – Built in 1579 by Thekkumkur Maharajah. Blend of Kerala & Portuguese architecture. Has murals on biblical & non-biblical themes.
Vimalagiri Church (Angathattupalli) – Cathedral of the Diocese of Vijayapuram built in Gothic style. 172 ft high main steeple is the highest church steeple in Kerala.
St. Joseph’s Monastery at Mannanam (8 km) – Father Chavara Kuriakose Elias’ mortal remains are preserved here. Site of St. Joseph’s Press established in 1844, which printed ‘Nasrani Deepika’, one of the oldest newspapers in the State.
Jama Masjid, Thazhathangadi (2 km) – One of the oldest mosques in India believed to be 1000 years old, is on the banks of Meenachil river.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple – 500 year old temple built by Thekkumkur Maharajah in Kerala style, has colourful murals. Its Koothambalam – building for cultural purposes, is one of the best in Kerala. Phalguna festival (April/May) attracts large numbers.
KUMARAKOM (16 km) - Fast developing backwater tourism destination. Resorts offer exclusive holiday options & houseboat stays/cruises.
Tourist Village on Vembanad lake – scenic picnic spot with boating facility. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary alongside Vembanad lake has migratory birds like Siberian stork, egret, heron and teal. Can be explored by boat also.
Nattakom & Panachikad (10 km) – Quiet villages with scenic water bodies, lush greenery & migratory birds in summer. Recommended boat ride from Panachikad to Kumarakom.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls (18 km) – Picnic spot. 100 ft water fall amidst rubber plantations.
VAIKKOM (40 km) – Famous for Mahadeva temple. According to legend, temple was built by Parasurama, mythological creator of Kerala. Festival in Nov/Dec with elephant processions. Vaikkom was once capital of erstwhile Vadakkumkur kingdom. Anchuvilakku – Stone lamp post in Kerala style near Changanassery boat jetty built by freedom fighter Veluthampi Dalawa. The five lamps are lit using kerosene.
Nadukani – Picturesque hill with bird’s eye view of vast meadows girded by huge rocks.
Karumbukayam-Meloram – Scenic place on Manimala river between Kanjirapally and Erumeli. Popular for occasional water fiestas organised by enthusiastic people.
Bharananganam (5 km east of Palai) – The 1000 year old St. Mary’s Church here features an attractive Grotto of Virgin Mary. Has entombed mortal remains of the blessed Sister Alphonsa (1916-1946) in a chapel next to the church.
St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad – Built in 355 AD on the high ranges of Kuravilangad town. It has an old bell with undeciphered inscription.
Ettumanoor (12 km) – 16th century Mahadeva Temple in Kerala style of temple architecture. Inner & outer walls have exquisite sculptures and murals, depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. Famous for painting of Nataraja in the gopuram and ezharaponnara (7 ½ elephants finished in gold). Central shrine has copper plated conical roof.
ERUMELI (60 km) – Vavarambalam Mosque dedicated to Vavar, friend of Ayyappa - deity of Sabarimala. Hindu pilgrims worship here before proceeding to Sabarimala.
Pundareekapuram (near Thalayolaparambu) – Famous for mural collection, believed to be the best in Kerala. Sanctum is decorated with murals depicting scenes from Hindu epics.