Best Onmanorama Travel reads to get you dreaming

kottayam's past
Illustration: Jayan

Books, movies, podcasts, and more – traveller stuck in lockdown are resorting to many sources to satisfy their wanderlust sitting at home. Why not revisit some of the best reads on Onmanorama Travel that make you time travel to when you were on the road!

A peep into place names in Kochi and local lore

A peep into place names in Kochi and local lore

Each place name holds an interesting story behind it. The name may come from some institution, personality, or trade related to the area. However, as the years pass, the place may undergo a total transformation. The institution that gave the spot its name may no longer exist. New buildings would have come up there, but the old name may still persist. In some other cases, the original names fade from public memory. Here is a brief look at some interesting place names in Kochi and the history related to them.

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Remains of Kottayam's glorious past

kottayam's past

Kottayam town has been witness to an eventful history but some major landmarks have been wiped out leaving no trace or have been replaced by newer buildings. One ne example is the fort at Thaliyil from where the kings of Thekkumkoor dynasty ruled the area. After the Thekkumkoor kingdom was annexed by Travancore, every single stone of the fort was dismantled, carted away, and used for other purposes.

The present town of Kottayam, in fact, took shape only around 250 years ago after the Travancore king Marthanda Varma attacked 'Kottayakam' (interior of the fort), the capital of Thekkumkoor and defeated the rulers in the year AD 1749. Kottayam had originated as a trading outpost based at Thazhathangady on the banks of the Meenachil river. Over the years, a new settlement was formed with Thirunakkara at its centre.

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A peak into Murickan's enchanting Kuttanad


Kuttanad in Kerala has now earned recognition as a major travel destination, attracting visitors from around the world. However, before World War II, the topography of the area was full of backwaters and shallow lagoons. The person who transformed this place into a thriving agricultural land was Joseph Murickan. Murickan was born at Kavalam.

During the World War II, poverty and hunger gripped the people of Kuttanad. "Maharaja of Travancore Chithira Thirunal wanted to save the people from their plight. He suggested that farming should be launched in a wider area of Kuttanad. Murickan was inspired by the Maharaja's call and decided to follow it up with action. He mobilised workers and set out to reclaim the backwaters in order to make it suitable for paddy cultivation," tells Thommichan, a senior citizen of Kuttanad who is also a veteran farmer.

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This 800-year-old mosque is an architectural delight


The Juma Masjid at Thazhathangadi in Kerala's Kottayam district is an architectural marvel that has been standing tall on eight strong pillars for over a thousand years. It is believed that the mosque on the banks of the Meenachil river on the outskirts of Kottayam town was built by the Thekumkoor King for the believers in the area.

The intricate wood carvings similar to those seen at Travancore palaces adorn the two-storeyed building. The iconic building based on Kerala's Thachu Shastra (science of carpentry) is on par with most of the other heritage structures in the state. For those of you who admire and appreciate the beauty of ancient buildings, let's take you through the doors of the Thazhathangadi mosque.

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A KSRTC ride from the capital city to Malabar


What could be the ideal way to get a view of the whole of Kerala for 12 hours from sunrise? If such an idea or desire has ever dawned upon you, then here's the best bet: KSRTC bus. That is the one run by the state's road transport corporation. True, one can take a motorbike; but that will be tiring. Or get into a car, but the windows cannot give you a broad sight.

That way, it's most enjoyable to take a KSRTC bus from the capital city in the morning and scale upward to reach north Malabar before nightfall. From Thiruvananthapuram deep south of the state, a bus awaits you with the board of its destination: Vazhikkadavu. Oops, where is that?

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Eleanor's tomb, Munnar's monument of love and tragedy


The tomb of Eleanor Isabel May, an Englishwoman, in Munnar is considered the Taj Mahal of the hill station. It was built by her loving husband Henry Knight and many visitors to Munnar ensure that they reach the tomb to pay homage to Eleanor, who died at young age of 24.

The tomb can be found in the cemetery attached to the CSI Christ Church in Old Munnar. Interestingly, the church had come up many years after the cemetery was consecrated. Eleanor was the first person to be buried at the graveyard and the Christmas Eve of 2019 marked 125 years of her funeral. The tomb, which is located on top of a hill, has a three-tiered headstone.

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