Facts About Kottayam
935 to 2817 m above Sea level
(Annual): 346 cm
Tropical humid, Cool and pleasant in the High Ranges
and the Cardamom Hills
Season: September to March
to get there
Rail: Kottayam Railway Station, 2 km from the town centre,
is linked to most major Indian cities.
Road: Motorable roads connect Kottayam to important south
India cities. There are two bus stations- the central KSRTC station
which operates most long-distance services, and the private bus
station near the railway station.
Ferry: The main ferry station is about 3 km from the railway
station and offers ferry services that pass through the scenic backwaters
to the following places: Alleppey, Mannar, Champakulam, Kavalam,
Mankombu and Ambalapuzha.
beauty of plantations and backwaters
Kottayam, among the state's more mountainous districts, provides
some of Kerala's finest natural scenes, sandwiched as it is between
serene palm-fringed backwaters on the west and the Western ghats
on the east. Much of this beauty is laid out in all its glory along
the road which winds from Kottayam to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
in Thekkady through plantations of rubber, tea, coffee and pepper.
In the past Kottayam was
the seat firest of the Munjunad Rajas and later, in the 12th century,
of the Tekkumkur Rajas. This fact of royal history is echoed in
the town's name which is derived from the Malayalam work kottayakam
which means the inside of a fort.
Kottayam is also an important
commercial centre, thanks to its strength as a producer of cash
crops. Most of India's natural rubber originates from the acres
of well-kept plantations of Kottayam, also home to the Rubber Board,
one of the country's primary commodities board.
As the headquarters of several
ecclesiastical heads of Christian churches like those of the Syrian
Christian community, Kottayam is proof of the cultural and religious
plurality of Kerala. Today, as reminders of this facet can be found
ancient churches like the Valia Palli, the Cheria Palli (1579) and
the St. Mary's Church at Manarcad (1585).
Kottayam is equally known
for its cultural achievements. It was the first town in India to
attain total literacy, an event which triggered a mass movement
to make Kerala the country's first totally literate state. Kottayam
is also the mecca of Kerala's publishing scene, home to dozens of
Malayalam newspapers and magazines, including the state's earliest,
The Deepika (founded in 1887) as well as the country's largest selling
daily and weekly from the Malayala Manoram group. Kottayam is also
the birthplace of a unique institution, the Sahitya Pravarthaka
Sahakarana Sangham, perhaps the first-ever co-operative of writers.
Situated in the heart of
Kottayam town; the Thirunakkara Mahadeval
Siva Temple, built in the indigenous style and featuring
several wall paintings, attracts a large number of devotees for
its annual festival in the third week of March.
Valia Palli (St. Mary's Church) build in
1550 A.D. for the Knanaya Orthodox Syrians, is situated in Thazhathangadi,
2 km from the town centre. It is famous for its 8th century Persian
cross and the Pahalavi inscription on it.
Located near the Valia Palli,
the smaller church of Cheria palli (St.
Mary's Church), built in 1579 A.D., has some murals and
paintings of Biblical and other themes.
km from Kottayam, is a little known scenic spot of rocky plains
where a 100-acre are of flat rock makes a natural granite stadium
to enjoy the sunset and the view of the town below. It is a good
base for trekking.
The town of Bharananganam is an important
Christian pilgrimate centre as the place where the mortal remains
of Sister Alphonsa (1916-1946) was interned in a chapel next to
the St. Mary's Church. This 1000-year old church features an attractive
Grotto of Virgin Mary.
A Hindu pilgrimage centre,
Ettumanoor, 13 km away, is famous for its
legendary 16th century Shiva Temple, a good specimen of Kerala's
indigenous style of temple architecture, incorporating clear-cut
wood carvings and mural paintings including an exceptional one of
Of Shiva as Nataraja trampling under foot the spirit of evil represented
by a demon. The annual 10-day festival of the temple occurs in February
A small village 12 km west
of Kottayam town, on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is a bird
sanctuary known for local varieties like the water
fowl, cuckoo, owl and the water duck as well as migratory Siberian
storks. The sanctuary is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the best
months to bird-watch are between June and August.
Within the 101 acres of beautifully
wooded grounds is the Kumarakom Tourist Complex, built around the
50-year old 'Baker's Mansion', formerly a small and pretty hotel
run by the KTDC, but now redone in greater style by Taj Kerala Resorts
Ltd. Boats are available on hire for backwater cruises around the
An important Syrian Christian
centre, the town of Mannanam, 8 km from Kottayam,
sites the St. Joseph's Monastery, associated with the name of Fr.
Kuriakose Elias of Chavara (1805-71), one of the saintly figures
of the Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala. 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, 40 km from Kottayam,
is famed for the Siva temple which, legend, says, was constructed
by Parasurama, the mythical creator of Kerala. The 12-day Ashtami
festival in November / December is renowned for its elephant processions,
religious discourses and performances of traditional dance and music.
In contemporary history, Vaikom's prominence derives from the satyagraha
of 1925, blessed by Mahatma Gandhi and aimed at throwing open the
temple's doors to Harijans.