The places such as Kodimatha, Nagampadam, Kanjikuzhi and Thazhathangadi guard the borders of this small-is-big city with bridges as the gateways. This city has earned the sobriquet 'Akshara Nagari' (Land of letters) as it has the rich legacy of establishing the first colleges and printing units in Kerala.
If you ask the street vendors selling second-hand books whether they have reading habits, they would reply in the affirmative and say that they won’t sell Malayalam books as they take them home to read. They are into reading a lot of Malayalam translations of well-liked English works. Everyone who knows the rudimentary of reading is developing reading habits to scale new heights. And this city with a myriad of shades is the history-laden Kottayam in central Kerala.
Though it is said that children of Kottayamites migrate to other countries for studies, there are also many people from other regions who settle in this beautiful city for business, studies and work. It is worth noting that the people of Kottayam are not night birds as most of the business establishments will down the shutters for the day just after dusk. Everyone has a notion that Kottayam is a Christian-majority town but the Thirunakkara temple and the Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid stand tall in the city.
The electric autorickshaws move around the city without raising decibels giving a feel that the ordinary autos are running services with their engines switched off. The auto rides in Kottayam also stand out for different reasons. Though the minimum charge is Rs 30, the auto drivers would ask for Rs 40 or Rs 50 saying that most of the roads in this small city have one-way traffic and it is pretty tough to get passengers for the return trip.
A quick glance at the engrossing landscape of Kottayam would reveal that the town is well endowed by nature and let’s take a lowdown on tourist destinations in and around Kottayam.
Kottayam to Kumarakom
Kumarakom, which is known for its placid backwaters, is 14km away from Baker Junction in Kottayam and interestingly is an archipelago of isles on the Vembanad Lake. Kumarakom like Alappuzha is famous for its houseboats, traditional seafood and sweet fresh toddy. You can enjoy the rustic natural charm of Kumarakom by staying in houseboats or resorts. Just pack your bags and head to Kumarakom if you want to have lip-smacking delicacies in the backdrop of serene natural settings.
Kuttikanam and Vagamon
A little over two-hour travel from Kottayam will take you to these two enchanting destinations. Take the Pampady-Kanjirappally-Mundakayam-Peruvanthanam route to reach the mesmerizing Kuttikanam, and the Ettumanur-Pala-Erattupetta route to arrive at the popular hill station of Vagamon.
Kuttikanam, which has milky waterfalls, spellbinding views and the age-old ‘Ammachi Kottaram’, is a hill station that can keep travellers of all genres in high spirits. And the misty Vagamon beckons tourists with expansive tea plantations, bare hills and pine trees.
Kottayam and nearby regions have many historically important and prominent places that could be of interest to pilgrims. The famous Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple is nearly 500 years old and it is believed that the temple’s Shiva idol was consecrated by Parashurama. The Thirunakkara pooram is also something special for Kottayam residents.
Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid, which is one of the oldest mosques in Kerala and situated on the shores of the Meenachil River, is also an important place of worship. The mosque is a master class in Kerala architecture and had been built in wood. Bharananganam near Pala is also a favourite destination for pilgrims and other visitors. People en route to Vagamon via Pala can easily visit Bharananganam.
Thousands of devotees from various places visit the Panachikadu Temple, which is known as the Dakshina Mookambika Temple, every year. The Ettumanur Temple is also one of the sought-after pilgrimage destinations in Kerala. The Manarcadu church and Vavar mosque are also popular among the people of Kottayam and other places.
The breezy Illickal Kallu, which was made well-known by travel vloggers, numerous waterfalls, Mango Meadows Park and ‘Nalumanikattu’ are some of the surreal spots of Kottayam. Elaveezhapoonchira, a hill station that caught the attention of people through a Malayalam film of the same name, is also in Kottayam.
The pink water lilies of Malarikkal and museums that celebrate the glory of art can also be found in this city. The Suryakaladi Mana, which was constructed by Swathi Thirunal, the King of Travancore, on the shores of the Meenachil River, is another marvel in Kottayam. Kottayam, which is known for rubber cultivation and lakes, has many captivating destinations that are must-sees for tourists.