An important Kerala centre for spices and rubber, Kottayam lies near the tourist hub, Alleppey, in the southern part of the state. The famous Keralan backwaters are accessible as the town is based at the basin of Meenachil River and the Vembanad Lake.
The weather here is cooler in comparison to Alleppey and the evergreen lush topography a great respite. Kottayam is also known for famous home-bred bakeries. With a large Syrian Christian community residing here, non vegetarian delicacies are in plenty. Look out for local jaunts to try some delicious beef, pork and sea food.
Kottayam is a fairly small town, spread over about 55 sq kms and is not traditionally a tourist hub, but there are some interesting places in Kottayam where you can choose to base yourself for a few days or visit during your trip.
This is a hill station close to Kottayam, situated 1100 metres above sea level. Vagamon is not that well known on the tourist circuit so one enjoy the lush ravines, tree lined hills and an extensive carpet of bright green in a tranquil environment. The drive itself from Kottayam to Vagamon is magnificent with pine trees amidst solid rock. Thangal Para, the Indo-Swiss Project and Kurisumala Ashram are the highlights of this place.
Pallam is a great place to see some of the different art forms of Kerala in their natural settings rather than in air conditioned auditoriums, offering a more authentic experience. The Anjaneya Kalari Marma Chikilsalayam is based in the Pallom region of Kottayam and gives the visitors a guided walk through the popular Kalaripayatu performance. There are limited entries and no fees, which makes this a great place to get acquainted with the ancient art. The establishment is also known for its Ayurvedic treatments. Pallom is also known for the first power house in Cochin and Munroe Lighthouse. It is associated with famous names like Haley Mathew (a great patron of the famous snake boats).
Kerala is known for its natural beauty in backwaters, lush forests and plantations. Amongst these, there are some spectacular waterfalls in the Kottayam region to visit. Just 18 kms from Kottayam, Pallikathodu is famous for the Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls, best seen after the rainfall in August. Crashing down from the mountains from a height of 100 ft this is a fantastic spot for a relaxing picnic.
Just 15 km away, Ettumanoor is famous for an old Shiva shrine. It is believed to be thousands of years old and houses ancient paintings and seven statues of half golden elephants. This is largely a historical destination with its lineage attributed to the times of Mahabharata, as the Pandavas are said to have established a temple here.
5. Poonjar Palace
Poonjar Palace has a royal connection to the history of Kottayam. Prince G.V Raja’s home is now a museum where antiques, rock-cut lamps, sculptures and other artefacts are displayed for public viewing. The palace stands as a testimony to an opulent time for the Prince, reflected in the richly carved furniture, chandeliers, jewel boxed, paintings and sculptures. Not far from the palace, is an extraordinary replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, with intricate sculptures depicting stories from the Puranas. Poonjar Palace makes for a good off beat trip from Kottayam town.
The pretty backwater village of Kumarakom is located just 16 kilometres from Kottayam. An ideal place for setting off on a backwater cruise, the village is set to the backdrop of Vembanad Lake where numerous traditional houseboats can be found plying the waterways.
Related articles and links
Kottayam Things To Do: 9 Items You Must Add To Your Kerala Holiday Itinerary
Kottayam Destination Guide
Things to do in Kumarakom: Six reasons people keep coming back
Kottayam Homestay Collection
Kumarakom Homestay Collection
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