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Shubhyatra >> Kerala Yatra >> Kottayam


District : Kottayam
Location : In South-Central Kerala, on Vembanad Lake and Meenachil River
Famous As : Shopper's Destination
Best Time to Visit : October to February

Kottayam - Trendsetter of Kerala

St Josephs Cathedral, Kottayam
St Josephs Jacobite Cathedral - Kottayam,

To See : Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, St Mary's Knanaya Church – Valiapally, St Mary's Orthodox Church – Cheriapally, Thazathangadi Juma Masjid, Backwater Escapes.
Most Famous For : Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, St Mary's Church.
Don't Miss : Kottayam Experience is not Complete unless you test the Waters of Vembanad Lake.
Must Experience : Shopping for Jeweleries in Kottayam.
Getting Around : St Mary's Forane Church – 10 km, Mannanam – 11 km, Ettumanur – 12 km, Panachikkad Temple – 13 km, Changanassery – 18 km.
To Shop : Kasavukada – Travancore Saris. Allapatt, Alukka's and Bhima Jewellers – Jewelleries.
Getting There : Air - Nearest Airport : Cochin International Airport.
Rail - Kottayam Station connected to New Delhi by Kerala Express, Mumbai by Kanyakumari Express.
Road - An hour's drive from Alleppey on N-H-47. N-H-49 to Thripunithura, S- H-15 to Ettumanur.
Inside Tip : While exploring the backwaters of Kodoor river use the boat Jetty for Backwater Tours.
Important Distances : 75 km S of Kochi, 153 km NW of Thiruvananthapuram. Kollam - 106 km, Alappuzha - 48 km, Bangalore - 616 km.
Where to Eat : Karumpumkala – Hot and Spicy, Vyshali Restaurant – Fried Frog Legs, Anne's Bakery - Wheat Halwa, Best Bakery – Syrian Christian treats.
Staying Options : Akkara House, Anjali Park, Pearl Regency, Paradise Resorts, The Windsor Castle.

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Flanked by the lofty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of inaugrations. When the sun languidly steps out of the clouds on a monsoon day, an enigmatic glow envelops the rain-kissed fields of Kottayam. Parched rocks pray for a few more drops and coconut palms sway in the soft breeze, a silent gesture of disavowal. Blue waters cut across this swathe of emerald green, and the colours make you wonder if Mother Earth has snatched a fistful of rainbow from the horizon. It is a land that bleeds latex, it is a land that creates poetry in its palm-fringed backwaters. Perhaps Kottayam prefers its hard-earned credentials a bit more than the natural radiance it's been bestowed with. It cherishes the rubber and spice plantations that have made it a commercial centre. It is piously proud of the fact that it was the the first town in India to achieve 100 percent literacy (a remarkable feat achieved as early as in 1989). And more, here came up the first college and printing press in Kerala, as well as the first daily newspaper in Malayalam. Well, it is the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.

On The Bygone Lanes

Historians belive that Kottayam literary means interior of a fort (Kotta+Akam). The story of Kottayam goes back to the time of the Kulasekhara kings (1090-1102). At that time, the region was a part of Vempolinad - the reason why the Vembanad Lake, which shares its shoreline with Kottayam, was named so. The present Kottayam district was previously a part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. In the modern era, this serene land saw many economic upheavels and political agitations. It was here that the famous Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25), an epic struggle for eradication of untouchability, took place. Scheduled castes and other backward classes in Travancore were denied not only entry into temples, but also access to temple roads. The place is of immense historic significance as eminent national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and E.V. Ramswami Naykar, were associated with this struggle.

Explore Beyond The Obvious Gems of Kottayam

Kottayam may be known for its backwaters and houseboats, but its religious monuments and heritage structures should not be missed by a tourist. Take a short walk to the south of the station and you are on the arterial Shastri road, which leads west to Seematti Circle at the heart of Kottayam, and there stands majestically the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple. An edifice of immense grace and beauty, there is nothing ostentatious about this shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built by a Thekkumkur raja, this 500 year old temple is appropriately described as the epitome of classic Kerala temple architecture. Don't forget to visit the low-roofed stage, or the 'koothambalam', where the traditional Kathakali dance form is performed as a homage to the Lord.

Not very far from the temple, atop a crouched hill and nursed by the Meenachil River, stands the ancient St. Mary's Knanaya Church. Look for the two granite Persian crosses, each carved out of a single slab of stone dating back to 4 and 7 AD. Try to decipher the inscriptions engraved on their surface in Pahlavi, the erstwhile official language of the Sassanian dynasty of Persia. Walk a few yards along the banks of Meenachil, and you will see a ambrosial mosque, made of teak, standing to itself. In first glance you might take this 1000 year old mosque for a temple or a king's castle, for this Muslim shrine affords a square inner courtyard, an exquisitely carved wooden gabled roof, a traditional bathing area and above all, beautifully designed lattice windows that reminds people, of Rajasthan. Your trip to Kottayam would not be complete unless you test the waters of the Vembanad Lake. Casting off a world of volatile pleasures, a backwater cruise will take you through ancient Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, 'kayar' (coir) villages, rustic homes, carved temples, high coconut groves and through slender corridors of the villages that adorn the landscape.

Vembanad Lake , Kottayam
Vembanad Lake - Kottayam,

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Rubber Plantations - Stick To It

Although metaphorically, Kottayam is the melting pot of varied cultural and religious influences, but practically, it is the collecting pot of latex, which later defines the ergonomics of ubiquitous rubber plantations. Grown in 109,582 hectares - the largest area under rubber cultivation in the State - Kottayam has been chosen as the head quarters of the Indian Rubber Board. Visit the vast jungles of 'Hevea brasiliensis' (latex of the plants from which commercial rubber is made) and you will know a great deal about this plant that is an indispensable part of our life. Touch natural robber. See how the incisions are made. Each night a new cut is made causing a new flow of latex. A collecting cup is tied with a polythene wreathed around the tree. After a few moments of eager anticipation, latex begins to flow into the cup. The accumulated rubber is collected the next morning and is carried to the processing unit. The sap is then coagulated in a pan, and water is rolled out of the cake of fresh rubber. The raw latex is then smoked and made into sheets. One can contact the rubber producer's association and chalk out a visit to these rubber processing units located in the periphery of the town.

Memorable Holiday Excursions Around

There are as many places of tourist interest in the city as there are around. Bring your car engine to life, shift gears and turn the wheels at any direction, you will always find something enticing. Visit Elaveezha Poonchira, a hill station 60kms from Kottayam, swelling as a major picnic destination. Located amidst three beautiful hillocks and sprawled green terrain, Poonchira is a place of picturesque charm. Legends has it that the pool here was a bathing place for Draupadi, the legendary heroine of Mahabharata. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils yet another beautiful slice of nature. Trek on the gigantic hills of 'Elaveezha poonchira' - a valley where leaves don't fall and is named so because the place has no trees!

Drive 10 km out of the town to reach St Mary's Forane Church at Athirumpuzha. This 9th century church affords exquisite filigree work on the rusty fold altar. The crucifix here is unique as it shows Jesus Christ without a single wound. If you plan to spend your holidays to this latex land, don't forget to visit Changanassery, situated at a distance of 18 km from Kottayam. An amelioration of 'shankhu-natha-sseri', the name traces its origin to 12th century, when Thekkumkur king Marthanda Varma built a temple, a church and a mosque equidistant from each other, to hear the sound of shankhu (conch), the natham (chime of the church bells) and the sseri (muezzin's call) every morning. You will be amazed to see how the rituals and the festivals of these distinct religious shrines are interlinked, paying testimony to Kottayam's syncretic traditions.

Choose Your Steps

The railway track follows the course of the Meenachil River into Kottayam. Get into the Kerala Express if you are coming from Delhi, and the Kanyakumari Express if from Mumbai. You will step out of the station at the northern end of the town. Take a short walk to the south of the station and you are on the arterial Shastri road, which leads west to Seematti Circle. A short distance from the circle is Baker's Junction, an important landmark of the city. If you plan to travel by air, disembark at Cochin International airport at Nedumbassery (91 km). Take a taxi and come over to Angamaly and then drive on SH 1. If you are coming from Madhurai in Tamil Nadu, come via KK (Kottayam-Kumily) Road, officially known as NH 220. Parallel to this is the Shastri Road, which you can catch once you are in Kottayam. Kottayam's KSRTC Bus Stand is located on TB Road and is regularly linked to Alleppey, Thekkady, Kollam, Kozhikode and Bangalore.

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Kottayam

Vembanad Lake, Kottayam

The Land of 3L's
Welcome to the magical land of Kottayam and you will feel proud to spend some time on the land which is the pioneer in printing in Kerala, the first town in India to achieve 100 percent literacy and the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.

A Holiday In Rubberband
Grown in 109,582 hectares - the largest area under rubber cultivation in the State - Kottayam has been chosen as the head quarters of the Indian Rubber Board. Wander amidst the long, lanky rubber plants swaying on the rhythm of the cool breezes, and see how crude rubber is collected, processed and packed in the nearby factories that dot the terrain.

Wear A Kottayam Saree
Stun your friends in a Kerala saree - five metres of fine off-white cottom edged with golden 'zari' (embroidery) that lends an extraordinary elegance to the person wearing it. Each piece is specially woven on a traditional handloom.

The Miracles of Faith
Visit 9th century St Mary's Forane Church at Athirumpuzha, near Kottayam. Affording an exquisite filigree work on the rusty fold altar, this church also houses an unique crucifix which shows Jesus Christ without a single wound.

A Stay on The Exotica
Embark on a holiday journey across sun-dappled backwaters of Kottayam on a kettuvallom - fully furnished traditional riceboats. While your eyes explore the virgin life that floats by, treat your palate to backwater delicacies prepared by your personal chef.

Best Selling Yatras (Tours)

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Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights
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» Southern Splendours

Meenakshi Temple , Madurai , TamilnaduGet an out of the world experience in Tamil Nadu, the land of ornately sculptured temples and rich culture, and Kerala, where swaying palm trees take you to a dreamland of snake boats.
Duration: 15 Days / 14 Nights
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» Unforgettable South & Beaches

Goa - BeachesLive life at Goa beaches, chase your dreams in the temples of Tamil Nadu and lose yourself in the spine-chilling jungles of Kerala with the unforgettable South tour.
Duration: 17 Days / 16 Nights
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