The first ever fully literate municipal Town in India. This land also boasts of the first English Educational center in South India as well as thee first Malayalam printing press which was established by Benjamin Bailey, a Christian missionary in 1820 AD. Panoramic Backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations characterize this picturesque land which attracts lots of tourists from all over the world. The Vembanad Lake and the stunning Backwaters of Kumarakom are its prime attractions. The city boasts a number of old churches, including famous Syrian Church.
15 km West of Kottayam.Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a noted bird sanctuary where many species of migratory birds visit. The Vembanadu Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen Pearl spot, shrimp (chemmeen in the local language) and prawns.
The Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom
Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty in to the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. One of Asia's largest freshwater lakes, the Vembanad Kayal, as it is locally known, is a giant reservoir and a major ecological resource.The serene Lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta the Snake boat races. The dense vegetation on its banks is a wonderful sight. The boats that ply on the lake vary from the large cargo carriers with mat-roofs to the houseboats.
The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (Open 0600 – 1800 hrs)
The Kumarakom bird sanctuary, an ornithologist’s paradise, is a favorite haunt of migratory birds. June to August is the breeding season of resident wetland bird like Siberian stork,Cormorants,darter ,white ibis,egret,darter,heron,and teal.Between November and May is the season of migratory birds like pain tailed duck,garganey teal, spot billed duck,osprey,marsh harrier,steppy eagle etc.
Kallara situated to the north west of Kottayam, is the center of the screw pine mat making industry. The Vellasseri paddy fields near Appanchira and the backwaters of Ezhumathuruthu are the major attractions of this area.
Mannam is the seat of first seminary of the Malabar Church (1983),the first Catholic Sanskrit School in Kerala(1846),the first private printing pressCMS press started by Rev.Benjamin Bailey in 18465),and the first Malayalam daily News paper in Malayalam, the Deepika(1887).An enchanting boat cruise through the Pennar Canal to the picturesque backwater districts Alappuzha and Eranakaulam provided by DTPC.
The Poonjar Palace is a glorious proof to the regal magnificence of a bygone era. Inside the palace walls is an amazing royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture including a palanquin, huge chandeliers, a thoni carved out of a single piece of wood for Ayurvedic massages, jewel boxes, palm leaf engravings, varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (the dancing Siva), grain measures, statues and weapons. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of the Temple bear sculpters which narrate stories from the Puranas(the legend of ancient India).However ,the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku(row of Lamps) carved out stone walls of the Sastha Temple.Such rock cut Temples are rare in India.
St.Mary’s Orthodox Church, Cheriyapallil
Open 0800-1800 hrs, built in 1579 by Thekkumkoor Maharajah, this church displays outstanding architecture which is a blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals made in oriental and western styles on biblical and non-biblical themes.
St.Mary’s Knaya Church, Valiyapallil
Open 0800 -2000 hrs) built in 1550 AD, this Church belongs to Knaya Orthodox Syrian Community. The Persian cross, believed to be one of the seven brought here by St.Thomas.
Juma Masjid, Thazhathangadi
Open 0700-1800 hrs, this ancient Mosque on the banks of the Meenachil River. This Mosque is believed to be 100 years old. The Mosque has a square inner courtyard, an exquisitely carved wooden gabled roof. The traditional bathing ara and lovely latticed windows making it resemble a temple or a King’s palace. Only men are allowed here.
Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple:
(Open 0400 – 1100 hrs, 1700 -2000 hrs)
This 500 years old temple built by Thekkumkoor Maharajah.Mahadrvar temple built in Kerala style of Architecture has colorful murals on its walls which are worth seeing. The special building The Koothambalam in the temple premises used for cultural purposes, is one of the best in Kerala.
Siva Temple, Vaikom
Popular as the Kasi of the south, this temple is famous for its elephant pageants and traditional art performances. Associated with the legendary Parasurama.