Introduction :- Kottayam is an important commercial centre of Kerala, India, 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. 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.
Places To Visit :-
Erumeli (60 km north-east of Kottayam town): Nestled in the lush green Western Ghats is this nature-rich village. This is also the entrance point to South India's most prominent pilgrim centres - the Sabarimala Temple. At Kanakapalam nearby, teak plantations dot the landscape.
Vavarambalam, Erumeli : This mosque is dedicated to Vavar, a companion of the deity - Sree Ayyappa - of the Sabarimala temple. The mosque is unique in that Hindu pilgrims customarily worship here before their trek to Sabarimala. Festival: Pettathullal (January).
Kumarakom :- An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies. Situated on the Vembanad Lake, in this small water world you'll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes which will take you into the heart of the scenic lake. The resorts nearby offer comfortable accomodation and exclusive leisure options like an Ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, fishing, angling and swimming.
The Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom (16 km from Kottayam town): Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. The lake, an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom Tourist Village offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (16 km from Kottayam town): Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, an ornithologist's paradise, is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. Other common varieties like the woodpecker, skylark, crane, water hen and parrots can also be spotted here. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary. Pathiramanal, an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat from here.
Pathiramanal :- This 10 acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to mythology a young brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island, Pathiramanal (sands of midnight).
Mannanam Tourist Home
This was set up by the DTPC to provide quality accomodation to the holidaying crowd. An intricate network of shimmering waterways embroider the richly green landscape, making the land charming in every detail. Boat cruise packages are being thoughtfully designed to give tourists the most memorable experience. The enchanting journey will take you through the Pennar Canal to the picturesque backwater districts of Alappuzha and Ernakulam.
Anchuvilakku (22 km from Kottayam): This stone lamp post, a typical example of Kerala architecture, was built near the Changanacherry boat jetty by the renowned freedom fighter Veluthampi Dalawa. The Changanacherry market, one of the largest in Kerala, was also established by him. The five lamps on this post are lit using kerosene.
Nadukani :- A picturesque location at the top of a hill with endless stretches of meadows girded by huge rocks. A bird's eye view of the low lying places can be enjoyed from here.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls ( 18 km from Kottayam town): 2 km down a mud lane from Kumarakom is this beautiful picnic spot where streams tinkle as they make their way through the landscape and waters roar as they cascade down the mountains from a height of 100 ft. Tourists can also enjoy the shade of the rubber plantations here.
Karimbukayam - Meloram :- This quaint spot on the Manimala River that flows between the Kanjirapally (a plantation town) and Erumeli panchayats is much sought-after for its natural splendours. However what makes the place really popular are the occasional exotic water fiestas on the reservoirs organised by the enthusiastic people.
Kayyoor, Bharananganam :- An enchanting landscape formed by a chain of green hills at the Bharananganam panchayat. A shrine dedicated to the Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharatha is found here. As in the famous temple at Sabarimala, only ghee is used to light the lamps here. Women are not permitted inside the temple.
St. Mary's Church, Bharananganam: The mortal remains of the Blessed Alphonsa are entombed at this church which is now a famous pilgrim centre. Thousands gather at this holy shrine during the annual festival: Feast of the Blessed Alphonsa (July).
Ilaveezhapoonchira :- Skirting the Kottayam district are beautiful valleys of Ilaveezhapoonchira, spread over thousands of acres. The verdant landscape punctuated by four gigantic hills, each rising to around 3200 ft., is an ideal place to unwind. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils yet another beautiful slice of nature. Ilaveezhapoonchira means valley where leaves don't fall and is named so because the place has no trees. This is also one of the best places in Kerala to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset. A DTPC rest house nearby offers comfortable accommodation.
Kannadipara :- As the name suggests, the valley of this rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror like perfection. This is also the highest point in Ilaveezhapoonchira. 3 km from here is the Pazhakakanam Plateau nourished by the Kadapuzha River. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place exotic. An added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfalls that playfully cascade down the mountain and greet the river below with a magnificent splash. On the eastern side of Kannadipara is a natural fort set amidst steep rocks.
Mankallu Mudikal :- The three hills in this region lie close to each other, their flat hilltops covered with lush grasslands. An aerial view of these resemble a traditional clay oven. With no trees around, the hilltops give you the feeling that you are walking in the clouds.
Illickal Mala :- Numerous mountain streams in this peak, 6000 ft. above sea level, flow down to form the serene Meenachil River. The solitude, the tranquility, the gentle breeze and the star spangled sky here are all enchanting beyond words. Tourists have to trek up 3 km to reach the top of the hill. And if you so wish, you could even spend the night on the heights.
Illickal Kallu :- Three hills, each rising to 4000 ft. and above, together form this huge hill. Each of the hills have a peculiar shape. One of them resemble a mushroom owing to which it gets its name Kuda Kallu (umbrella shaped rock). It is said that the medicinal herb Neela Koduveli, which bathes the hillsides in blue, grows here. This flower is also believed to possess supernatural powers which could increase wealth and ensure a rich harvest. The second hill, has a small hunch on the sides and is therefore referred to as Kuunu Kallu (hunch back rock). Across this rock is a 1/2 ft. wide bridge called Narakapalam (bridge to hell). From the hilltops, the Arabian Sea can be seen in the distant horizon as a thin blue line. The sunset on a full moon day is sensational, when the moon can be seen rising up like another sun, as the orange sun goes down.
Ayyappara :- According to legends, the five Pandava brothers - epic heroes of the Mahabharatha - stayed near this rock, 2000 ft. above sea level and spread over 20 acres, during their exile. The name of the rock is said to be a modified version of the original term Anchupara (five rocks). However, some say that the name owes its origin to the Ayyappa Temple here. This temple has four pillars which support a flat piece of rock that forms the roof. On one side of the rock is a cave that can accommodate over 15 people. The sunset is beautiful from here. Above all, the cool mountain breeze does wonders to your mind and body.
Marmala Stream :- This scenic stream and its breathtaking waterfalls are together referred to as the enchantress of the jungle. Sliding down numerous hillocks from a height of 200 ft., the gushing water has etched out over the years a deep pond in the rocks. Right under the waterfalls is a natural bridge.
Vazhikkadavu :- On the outskirts of the district is this hill station of rocky terrains sought after for its pristine nature. On one side of the main rock are extremely tall and steep rocks and on the other is a valley of fearful depth. Bordering this crude landscape like a silver lace is the Meenachil River. During the months of December/January the landscape comes alive in a riot of colours with orchids and wild flowers.
Kurisumala :- 3 km from Vazhikkadavu is this renowned Christian pilgrim centre where hundreds of devotees from far and near converge during the holy week and after, to climb the hill in faith, carrying small wooden crosses. The peaceful Jewish Monastry at the top of the hill, the silence of the hills, the cool mountain air and the lush green landscape are all soothing to the soul.On the eastern side of the hill is Muruganmala housing a rock cut temple dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Shiva). The road to Kurisumala offers some real sightseeing opportunities in a European model house and the beautiful artificial lake, both designed by the renowned architect, Laurie Baker.
Thangalppara :- The mausoleum of Sheikh Fariduddin found here makes this place a famous Muslim pilgrim centre. Nearby is the scenic hill station of Kurathikallu and the beautiful Kottathavalam.
Kottathavalam :- Near Murugan hills at Kurushumala, a flight of steps cut in the rocks takes one to this magnificent cave. Legends say that the royal family from Madurai rested here on their way to Poonjar. The rocks within the cave, carved like chairs and couches and the figures of Madurai Meenakshi, Ayyappa, Murugan, Kannaki and weapons sculpted on them, are all worth exploring.
Poonjar Palace :- The palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palanquin, a thoni - carved out of a single piece of wood - for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, different varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (dancing Lord Shiva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures which narrate stories from the Puranas (the legends of ancient India). However, the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on stone walls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rock cut lamps are rare in India.
Wagamon This enchanting hill station on the Idukki - Kottayam border, dotted with tea gardens and meadows, will soon be one of India's foremost ecotourism projects. The breeding centre of the Kerala Livestock Board is located here.
Vayaskara and Chirattamon :- These places are well known for their Ayurvedic rejuvenation centres.
How to Reach Kottayam :-
You can reach Kottayam by air :- Fly down to Kochi airport, 76 kilometers away from Kottayam.
Kottayam is well-connected to the rest of the state and to other major cities by road. So you can just drive down.
You can also board a train from the major cities and reach here as trains regularly run from Kottayam to Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Ernakulam.