Pathanamthitta - The youngest district in the state of Kerala nestles its head on the slopes of western ghats and stretches to the low-lying rice fields bordering Alappuzha district. The district consist of three natural divisions viz the Lowland the Midland and the Highland.
The highland stretches through the western ghats and descends to midland in the centre, down to the lowland and cocunut gardens on the western borders of Alappuzha disrict. The topography of the district is highly undulating.It starts from the tall hill slopes covered with thick forests on the east along the mountains down to the valleys and small hills to the flat land of coconut trees in the west.
Pathanamthitta engrossed on the hilly terrain of Kerala can rightly be called the headquarters of pilgrimage tourism in the state. Sabarimala, an important Hindu pilgrimage centre attracts crores of pilgrims from the different parts of India and the state.
The district has more or less the same climatic conditions as prevalant elsewhere in the state viz, dry season from the Dec to Feb and hot season from March to may. The climate is generally moderate, the temperature rising from 20 C to 39 C. The south west monsoon from June to September and the north west monsoon from October to November provide fairly good rain.
Pathanamthitta is a true tropical diversity adorned with fertile agricultural land, plantations and forest. Paddy, tapioca, varieties of vegetables and spices like cardamom, pepper etc. are extensively cultivated. The district also abounds in extensive rubber plantations.
Pathanamthitta District Map :
PATHANAMTHITTA TOWN – Hub of pilgrim centres in Kerala.
MALAYALAPUZHA (8km) – Bhagavathy Temple has beautiful wall paintings and artistic stone carvings. A very popular pilgrim centre.
Konni (11km) – Known for its elephant training centre. Reservoir. Agricultural region rich in cash crops like rubber, pepper, coffee, ginger, etc. Proposed eco-tourism centre.
Elavumthitta (12km) – Muloor Smarakam, memorial to Muloor, social reformer & poet.
Kozhencherry (13 km) – Venue of largest Christian gathering in Asia, known as Maramon Convention. Held in February-March each year on the banks of river Pamba at Maramon since over 100 years. Addressed by Christian scholars from all over the world.
Perunthenaruvi (36 km via Vachoochira) – 100 feet high waterfalls on the Pamba river.
SABARIMALA (72 km) – Most popular pilgrim centre in Kerala. Attracts 15 million pilgrims annually. Famous for Ayyappa Temple situated in a hilly, wooded region at 914 m ASL. Accessible only by foot from Pamba (4 km). Mandalapooja & Makara vilakku (Nov – Jan) is the peak pilgrim season.
Nilackal (17 km from Sabarimala) – Has old Shiva temple.
Pandalam (14 km from Chengannur) – Ayyappa, deity of Sabarimala, had his human sojourn here as son of the Raja of Pandalam. Valiyakoikal temple here was modeled on the Sabarimala shrine. Pilgrims worship here enroute to Sabarimala. Before Makaravilakku, ornaments of Ayyappa are taken from Pandalam to Sabarimala.
Aranmula (10 km from Chengannur) – Temple town amid undulating green hillocks. Parthasarathi Temple on the banks of Pamba river is very popular. Aranmula snake boat race (Aranmula Vallamkali) is held on the last day of Onam festival (Aug-Sep). 30 feet snake boats each with 4 helmsmen, 100 rowers & 25 singers. Vijnana Kalavedi Cultural Centre - Residential courses in Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kalaripayattu, music, wood carving, etc. Foreigners camp to experience Kerala culture. Aranmula kannadi - Hand made polished metal mirrors make unique souvenirs.
ACHANKOVIL (80 km from Punalur) – Has Dharmasastha temple, believed to have been founded by Parasurama. The deity holds an ever-bright shield and sword in hand.
Thiruvalla - Sri Vallabha Temple – A large temple in Kerala style. Kathakali performance is staged here every evening. The name Thiruvalla originates from God Sri Vallabhan. Paliakara Church Has mural paintings.
Niranam (7 km from Thiruvalla) – Has one of the oldest Christian churches in India, believed to have been built by the apostle St. Thomas## in 52 A.D. Also the birthplace of a band of 14th century poets and social reformers popularly known as Niranam Kavikal or Kannassa Panikkaranmar, who re-rendered many Sanskrit works in Malayalam.
Rock Cut Cave Temple (6 km from Thiruvalla) –Resembles Pallava style. Dated to 8th century A.D. ‘Sivalinga’ cut out of a rock is enshrined in a square cave.
Mannadi Kavu (13 km from Adoor) – Ancient Bhagavathy temple here has exquisite stone sculptures. Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts functions here. Memorial to Veluthampi Dalawa, renowned freedom fighter of Travancore, who spent his last days here before he killed himself with his sword.
Charalkunnu – Picturesque hill station, provides panoramic view of nearby valleys.
Manjanikara Church – Mar Ignatius Elias III, the holy patriot of Anthoid while on a visit to India, died at this place in 1932. This place later developed into a pilgrim centre.