An implausibly beautiful land surrounded by the soothing green hills, coconut groves and mangrove woodlands represent the beauty of Kottayam, and the surrounded beauty of backwater beautiful offers interesting Aqua Tourism. The word 'ottayam; is derived from the words 'Kotta' that connotes 'fort' and Akkam connoting 'inside'.
Kottayam is equally known for its cultural heritage. It was the first town in India to achieve cent percent literacy and thus encouraged the mass of Kerala to become the first state in India with total literacy. Kottayam is also the 'Town of Letters' wherefrom dozens of Malayalam language newspapers and magazines are being published. It includes the state's earliest newspaper, The Deepika which was founded in 1887 and the country's largest selling daily and weekly from the Malayala Manoramagroup. Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham is also lies in Kottayam. This unique institution is said to be the co-operative of writers venturing into publishing.
PLACES TO SEE IN KOTTAYAM:
Kottayam is also known for a number of temples, mosques and religious places that are scattered in and around the region. In the heart of Kottayam town is the much-respected Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple. Thali Kotta Temple is the ancient Royal temple of Thekkumkoor Principality. Apart from these, the Kudamaloor temple, Vaikom Temple, Pundareekapuram Temple, Ettumanoor Temple are also visited by a large number of tourists from India and abroad.
The Thazhathangadi Mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in India, is located on the Meenachil River. It girdles the town like a silver band. Valliapally was built in 1550 and it has a historic Persian Cross. Cheriyapally still preserves the ancient Church architecture. The C.S.I. Cathedral Church built about 175 years ago is a monument of the British Era. Mar Thoma Seminary, Old Seminary, and Vadavathoor Seminary promulgate Roman and Syrian traditions. Moreover, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church owns its headquarters at Devakolam situated at Kottayam.
PLACES AROUND KOTTAYAM:
A list of places are scattered around the land of Kottayam and is said to be the ideal land for natural and religious tourism. This land is regarded as the tourist hub for the major attractions like ldukki, Munnar, Ernakulam, Thekkady etc. Another attraction of this place is the temple city of Madurai.
Kottayam is one of the well known tourist spots in Kerala and is reckoned for its beautifully decorated surroundings. Some of the major tourist spots include Peerumedu, a small hill station, Vembanad Lake, Ayyampara, Wagamon, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Grampi, Ilaveezhapoonchira, Erumelli, The Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary etc.
Among these places, some are ideal for spending serene life in the lap of the hills, rivers and canals. Places like Ayyampara is known for trekking expeditions, picturesque hill stations like Grampi, Peerumedu, Wagamon are visited by a huge mass of tourists every year. Moreover, Kumarakom is placed at a short distance in the direction of west of Kottayam. The place lies on the vast Vembanad Lake. The place is famous for a well-known bird sanctuary. The place can be called as the heaven for the ornithologists as various migratory birds like Egrets, darters, herons and teal come to this place during their respective seasons. A cruise on the lake, gently rocked by the waves rippling to the rhythm of the swaying coconut palms on the distant banks, could be truly exhilarating. From this place a backwater spot is accessible by boat, which is known as 'Pathiramanal', or the midnight-sands.
Kottayam town is the entryway to a lot of pilgrim centres of Mannanam, Vaikom, Erumeli, Manarcadu, Aruvithura, Bharananganam, Ettumanoor, Sabarimala, and Athirampuzha. The famous Vaikom Shiva Temple that is associated with the legendary Parasurama is placed just 40 km. north of Kottayam town. It is a typical example of Kerala temple architecture. There are also some other temples like Temples of Perunna, Vazhappally and Thrikkodithanam near Changanacherry, which are the example of Kerala architecture. Apart from these, there are some other temples like Pundareekapuram Temple, Ettumanoor Temple, Thirunakkara Mahadev Temple in Kottayam which remain crowded with the visitors and tourists in most of the time of the year.
The temple at Ettumanoor is about 12 km. north of Kottayam town. This is famous for murals and 'ezhara ponnana' or the 7½ elephants finished in gold. The Mosque at Erumeli is placed at about 60km northeast of Kottayam town. It is dedicated to Vavar, a contemporary and companion of Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu deity. Every year multitudes of Hindu pilgrims worship at this mosque before their trek to Sabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa. This is a unique example of unity in diversity and a better example for Hindu and Muslim cordiality over centuries in this country.
Bharananganam is a Christian pilgrimage centre that boasts a charismatic grotto of Virgin Mary. Some other Christian religious centres are Valiyapalli Church, near Cheryapalli and Mannanam which locates the St.Joseph's Monastery and is reckoned as one of the major Syrian Christian centres of Kottayam.
Kottayam town is readily accessible by road, rail and backwaters from Kochi and Alappuzha. It is just 160 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. It is on the railway line from Kanyakumari through Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi and beyond.
Palatown and Kanjirappally are the places nourished by the Meenachil and Manimala rivers respectively. These are the two centers of rubber plantations. Wagamon is placed at 60 km. from Kottayam and 30 km. from Pala. Wagamon is located at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level is a trekker's paradise. Elaveezhapoonchira is another picnic spot accessible from Pala and located in the midst of beautiful hillocks.
Tourism in Kottayam offers a lot of places of interest that includes, leisure tourism, trekking, enjoying scenic beauties in the hill stations, visiting the pilgrimage centres that include the mosques, churches and Hindu temples which attract the tourists from almost all corners of India and abroad as well.