Distance : 160km from
76km from Cochin
Population : 166,200
¤ Perched On The Western Ghats
Nestling at the foothills of the lofty Western Ghats, Kottayam is
synonymous with a picturesque landscape, labyrinthine backwaters, lush
paddy fields, rubber plantations, ayurvedic resorts and a fully
literate population. The palm-fringed Vembanad Lake, embracing the
western part of Kottayam, fully compensates for the lack of a sea
The eastern side of the district is hemmed in by the rugged Western
Ghats. While Ernakulam forms the northern boundary of Kottayam,
Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta are to the south of the district. Like
most other places in South India, Kottayam has a tropical humid
climate with plenty of rainfall throughout the year.
¤ The Vegetation
Several rivers meander through the district of Kottayam. While rivers
like the Muvattupuzha and the Manimala can be categorised as
inter-district rivers, the Meenachil River flows entirely through
Kottayam. The secret of Kottayams economic prosperity lies in
its production of cash crops like rubber, tea, pepper and cardamom
that earn a substantial amount of foreign exchange. Extensive growth
of rubber has given rise to rubber-based industries. Food crops like
paddy, tapioca, coconut, ginger, pulses, pineapple and sugarcane are
also abundantly available in this district.
¤ Thaliyil Fort
The story of how the modern town of Kottayam acquired its name has an
unusual ring to it. The seat of power of the Murinjanad and Thekkumkur
kings was at Thazhathangadi in Kottayam. Unfortunately, Marthanda
Varma of Travancore defeated the Thekkumkur rulers and demolished the
palace and the Thaliyil fort. The Kottayam of today was once located
within the boundary of the fort.
¤ Declared As A Fully Literate Town
The socially progressive district of Kottayam has many firsts to its
name. Kottayam was catapulted into the limelight when it was declared
as the first district in India to be fully literate. Kottayams
contribution to the development of literature and education in Kerala
has been immense.
That modern day journalism in Kerala should have originated from
Kottayam, hardly comes as a surprise. The first printing press was
established here in 1821 under the patronage of Rev. Benjamin Baily.
In 1848, the efforts of the local people finally paid off when the CMS
Press in Kottayam launched the first newspaper called Jnananikshepam.
Kottayam has the singular honour of publishing a number of leading
dailies like the Malayala Manorama, the Kerala Bhushanam and the
¤ Making a Mark
Kottayam has carved out a niche for itself on the cultural map of
Kerala. Kidangoor, a place in Kottayam, is the home of Kunchan
Nambiar, known as the father of Thullal, a popular temple art form.
The Malayalam masterpiece, Unnineeli Sandesam, was authored by one of
the Vadakkumkur rulers who reigned over this region. Around the 18th
and 19th century, Christian missionaries made significant contribution
to Malayalam literature.
Many notable personalities, who have enriched the culture of Kerala
during the 20th century, have come from Kottayam. The name of the late
G. Aravindan, the renowned film-maker comes immediately to mind.
Recently, the place was in the news again when Arundhati Roy, a native
of Kottayam, won the prestigious Booker Prize for her novel, God
of Small Things.
For centuries, various religions have co-existed harmoniously in
Kottayam. Though a stronghold of the Syrian Christians, Kottayam is
home to a sizeable Hindu as well as Muslim population.
As churches, temples and mosques dot the landscape, religious
festivals assume a special significance in this district.But compared
to the more religious festivals, the popularity of the others has by
no means waned.
The festival of Onam is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony all
over Kerala. The highlight of this festival is the snake boat races
that are held in the idyllic backwater stretches of Kottayam. (See
Festivals of India and Kerala).
¤ Arts and Crafts
Although there are no handicrafts that are particularly associated
with Kottayam, the nimble fingers of the craftsmen fashion exquisite
items out of bell metal, wood, cane, fibre and coconut shell. But
these pieces are available all over Kerala. Intricate gold jewellery
designed and crafted in Kerala is also in great demand among the
tourists as well as the locals.
¤ Tourist Hotspots
Many a temple, church and mosque dots the town of Kottayam. Among the
temples, the Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple is the most noteworthy.
Other temples like the Pallipurathukavu Bhadrakali Temple,
theIranjali Devi Temple, the Keralapuram Temple, theThriguthapuram Sri
Krishna Temple and so on are important pilgrim centres in their own
right. Being a stronghold of the Syrian Christians, it is not
surprising that Kottayam boasts of a number of churches like the
Valiapally, the Cheriapally and the Good Shepherd Church. The
headquarters of His Highness the Catholics of the East, the chief
dignity of the Orthodox Syrian church is the Devalokam Aramana at
Kottayam. The Thazathangadi Mosque is the religious hub of the Muslim
population in Kottayam.