Located near Kochi, Kottayam is a large town in the state of Kerala. Due to the presence of many newspapers and publishing houses in Kottayam, it is also called the letter capital of Kerala. The literacy rate of the city is around 100% that can be attributed to the presence of many colleges and deemed universities, present here.
Kottayam is popular because of several plantations, paddy fields and natural lakes. Kottayam is also a main trade centre of Kerala due to the extensive rubber plantations present in the town. The large town of Kottayam also has a head quarter by the same name.
Located around 76 kilometres from Kochi, Kottayam once used to be the part of erstwhile Central Travancore. Apart from being the trade capital of Kerala, Kottayam also has several popular publishing houses of India.
Popular tourist attractions in Kottayam include an ancient temple of Thirunakkara Mahadeva, which was built here in the 16th century by Raja of Thekkumkur. The interior murals of the temple depict some of the rare ancient art works derived from Hindu epics.
Thirunakkara Arattu festival, bathing ceremony of lord Mahadeva, is a famous event in Kottayam, which starts from the first day of Meenam month of Malyalam Calendar. It continues for ten days. Various traditional dances like Kathakali, Mayilattom, Velakali and other cultural entertaining programs are performed during the festival. This festival is held between 15th and 24th March in 2012.
The Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple hosts the Ettumanoor Aarat festival, celebrated in the month of February – March every year. The most exciting part of this Utsav is seven and half elephants made of gold being displayed for public. This is called Ezharaponnana Darshan in Malayalam. Tourists visiting Kottayam in March can visit Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple.
Attuvela Mahotsavam, a water carnival is held at Elankavu Sree Bhagavathy Temple on 25th March 2012. It is believed that Attuvela Mahotsavam is the welcome ceremony for the Goddess of Kodungalloor who comes to visit her sister, the Goddess of Elamkavu.
Kottayam also houses one of the oldest Mosques of India, the Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, located near Meenachil River. The mosque here is popular for its wooden architecture and carvings representing the ancient architectural expertise. The region also includes some Syrian Christian Churches like ancient St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cheriapally that still dominate the region. These churches date back to the 1600s.
The best time to visit Kottayam is between the months of September and February because of the pleasant weather as it gets increasingly warmer from the month of February onwards.
Kottayam hosts an annual Flower Show and Food Festival in the third week of January. Cultural programs will be arranged on all days of the festival.
Kottayam is well connected by railways to other towns and districts whereas the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram is well connected by roadways along with neighbouring towns like Thekkady, Ernakulam, Madurai, and Munnar. The nearest airport is located in Kochi, which is about 80 kilometres from the town. Kottayam is also popular for its water transport facilities that include ferries and boats.
In Kottayam, tourists can use public transport for going around the city. The bus service in Kottayam connects almost all parts of the city. Tourists can also hire taxi to roam around the city.
Kottayam is known for its handmade products. Exquisite goods and designs made by local craftsmen can be included in the shopping as the remembrance of Kottayam trip. Tourists can also add various spices to their shopping bags along the local market.