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The name Kottayam is derived from Kotta and Akam and means the inside of a fort. Kottayam has a long history. The local rulers of Munjanad and Thekkumkur used Kottayam as their headquarters. Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore defeated the local rulers and annexed Kottayam. 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. 
Places to visit

St. Mary's Church, Cheriyapally: 
This church contains exquisite murals and paintings of Biblical and non-Biblical thems.

Thirunakkara Siva Temple: 
Built in the indigenous style of architecture, this temple has many interesting paintings on its walls. The sanctum-sanctorum is covered with pictures from the epics. Three festivals are celebrated here in Thulam (Oct-Nov) Mithunam (Jun-Jul) and Meenam (Mar-Apr) of which the last one is the most important. The 'Aarattu', conducted on the last day of the festival, is the festival, is the festival of Kottayam, irrespective of the caste and creeds. The main festival Phalguna Utsavam is celebrated during March. 

Thazhathangadi Mosque: 
Is one of the ancient mosques in India which is made in the old Kerala style. It is believed that malik Dinar had built this mosque about 1000 years ago. Now it is an important pilgrim centre at Kottayam. The artistic value of this mosque is of special interest to the tourists. 

Goodshepherd Church: 
situated behind the civil station at Kottayam, this is the first church of Diocese of Vijayapuram. The construction of this church, which is completed in Italian style, was completed in 1882 and was renovated in 1964. The feast at St. Sebastian is on 20th January and that of Good Shepherd, is from 10th to 12th April.

Vimalagiri (Angathattu Palli): 
is the cathedral of the Dioceses of Vijayapuram.This church, constructed in Gothic style. The main steeple has a height of 172 ft., which is considered as the highest church steeple in the state. Vimalambika is the deity here. The main feast is in December. This church is situated near Kottayam railway station. The chief ecclesiastical dignity of the Orthodox Syrian Church, the Catholics of the East, has his head quarters in Devalokam Aramana at Muttambalam Catholic Church, Latin Catholic Church and the Church of South India have their Head quarters in Kottayam. The Arch Bishop of Changanassery who follows the Syro-malabar rite, has his Head Quarters in Changanassery. The Bishops of Knanaya Jacobite and the Church Mission Society have their headquarters at Chingavanam and Kurichy respectively. 


Ettumanoor:
The Siva Temple here, built in 16 AD, is a good specimen of the indigenous Kerala Style of temple architecture. The shrine contains exquisite mural paintings and sculptures depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. Nearby is a mural art centre, preserved by the state Archaeological Department. The annual festival of the temple is celebrated for ten days during February/March.

Bharananganam: 
The church here, containing the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa is one of the important pilgrim centres of the Christian in Kerala. 


Erumeli: 
Located on the bank of Manimala river, Erumeli is an important pilgrim centre for Hindus and Muslims. Pilgrims going to Sabarimala alight here at the Sastha temple to worship the deity. These pilgrims also offer prayers at an ancient mosque here.

Mannanam: 
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.

Kumarakom: 
This is a small village 12 Kms. west of Kottayam town. It is a part of Kuttanad, which is lying below sea level, comprising of a number of islands, in the backwaters. This beautiful sanctuary, in Kumarakom, on the eastern banks of the Vembanadu lake is an ideal place for backwater cruises organized by the Kerala Tourism Department. Spread over 14 acres of lush greenery and blue waters, Kumarakom offers sanctuary to various birds including water fowl, water ducks, cuckoos and siberian storks which nest and spend the summer here.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: 
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. The woodpecker, skylark, crane,water hen and parrots can also be spotted here.


The Vembanad Lake: 
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 provides boating, fishing and sightseeming experiences that are truly exhilarating.


Vaikom: 
This town, located on the bank of the Vembanadu lake, is famous for its Siva temple, which is one of the oldest Siva Temple in the world. During the Sabarimala season pilgrims alight here to worship the 'Annadanaprabhu (Load Siva)'. Vaikom gained prominence during the Indian freedom struggle, as it was the venue of the famous Satyagraha staged in 1925 for the admission of Harijans into this temple. Vaikom is situated about 40kms from Kottayam town. Two Ashtami festivals are held annually, one in Kumbham (Feb -Mar) and the other in Vrischikam (Nov-Dec) of which the latter is more famous. The celebrations last for 12 days and end with an 'Aarattu' at the Subramanya Swami Temple at Udayanapuram, on the day after Ashtami. Prathal (feast) is the main Vazhipadu here. There is a school teaching temple arts, known as Kshethrakalapeedhom, attached to the temple. 

Pathiramanal: 
This 10 acre island on the backwaters is home to many raer 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 enchnating island, Pthiramanal.

Kurisumala: 
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 mountains air and the lush green landscape are all soothing to the soul.

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 varities of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja, grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures which narrate stories from the Puranas.
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. 


 

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 Fact Sheet
Population: 18,20,000
Area: 2203 sq km
Altitude: Sea level
Rainfall  346 cm
Climate:  Tropical humid 
Summer Max      Min
37.5C  22.5C
Winter 37C     22C 
Season Sep to Mar
Clothing: Tropical cottons

Access

Air: 
The nearest airport is at Kochi, 85 Km and Thiruvananthapuram Airport is 152 km.

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: Alappuzha, Changanaserry, Kumarakom etc.

 
Local Transport:
Private and KSRTC buses, Yellow-top and tourist taxis, Autorickshaws.

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