The name Kottayam is derived from the word “Kotta” which means “Fortress” in Malayalam. The old town of Kottayam was originally founded on the hilltop now known as Kunnumpuram. The small hamlet developed within the walls of the fort and thus was derived the present name from the words “Kottackk Akam” which literally means “Inside the Fortress”. It is commonly believed that down the ages this gradually assumed its present form, Kottayam.
Kottayam has the distinction of being the first fully literate town in the whole of India. The first English school was started here by the missionaries of the Church Mission Society of the erstwhile Anglican Church. Kottayam has been a centre of learning and in recognition of this fact the Government established the Mahatma Gandhi University here.
Places to see in Kottayam:
An important Christian pilgrimage centre, the town of Bharananganam is known as the site of the internment of Sister Alphonsa (1916 – ’46) in a chapel next to the St. Mary’s Church. This millenium-old church features an attractive grotto of Virgin Mary.
• Valiyapalli Church
Dedicated to St. Mary, the Valia Palli is a church built in 1550 for the Knanaya Orthodox Syrians situated in Thazhathangadi, 2 km from the centre of the town. It is famous for its 8th century Persian cross and the Pahalavi inscription on the cross.
Located near the Valia Palli, the smaller church of Cheria Palli, also dedicated to St. Mary, built in 1579, has some Murals and paintings of Biblical and other themes.
Housing the famous St. Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam is an important Syrian Christian centre. The town is associated with the name of Father Kuriakose Elias of Chavara (1805 – 1871), one of the saintly figures of the Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala. Established in 1844, St. Joseph’s Press is one of the oldest printing presses in India, where one of the oldest of Kerala’s newspapers was printed.
• Thirunakkara Mahadev Temple
The temple built in the indigenous style is situated in the heart of the town of Kottayam. It features several murals and is thronged by a large number of devotees during the annual festival held in the third week of March.
Excursion of Kottayam:
• Vembanad Lake
16 kms from Kottayam town is a vast network of rivers and canals, which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vemanad Lake, which is situated in Kumarakom village. The lake is an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourist destination. It provides boating, fishing and sight seeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom tourist village also offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages.
• Ettumanoor Temple
A famous Hindu pilgrimage, Ettumanoor Temple is known for its unique and original architecture, wooden carvings and murals. The one that truly deserves a special mention is a statue of Shiva as Nataraja in a stunning pose. The temple is also famous for its 10 day long annual festival held during February-March.
• Grampi Hill
A great place to relax and unwind, the Grampi hill station is a beautiful place to visit and rest in nature’s lap.
• Champakara (Ayurvedic Centre)
18 kms from Kottayam is Champakara, which is an important Ayurvedic Centre for ‘Thirummuchikilsa’. Sreerangam CVN Kalari Chikilsa Kendram attracts people from all over India and abroad.
• Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Located at a distance of 12 kilometers from Kottayam town, this bird sanctuary is known to be home to local as well as migratory birds.
A small hill station located at a height of 914 meters above sea level, Peerumedu derives its name from the famous Sufi saint, Peer Mohammad.
How to get There:
Nearest Airport is at Cochin, 76 kms away. The Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is 152 kms.
Kottayam Railway Station 2 kms. away from the Central Bus Station and is connected with major cities and tourist centres.
Kottayam is connected to major cities of South India by good motorable roads. There are two bus stations, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus station on TB Road and a private bus stand near the railway station. Buses to major centers operate from the KSRTC bus station.