Kottayam Travel Guide

Photo of Kottayam

Kottayam Overview

Kottayam, lying between the Western Ghats and backwaters, is another of Keralas picturesque and peaceful towns in the surroundings of beautiful green landscapes. Although at first sight it may not have the hoards of attractions possessed by other South Indian towns, its historical importance is one of great significance. Being the hub of the spice and rubber trade, and the first town throughout the whole of the country to become fully literate, it is a fascinatingly interesting place to visit and explore.

The town centre is small and tranquil with a scattering of hotels, restaurants and tourist sites split between TB and KK Road. Running south, TB Road houses the towns market and leads down to the boat jetty, from where ferries can be caught to Alleppey. KK Road, running east to west, is blessed with a number of stunning churches and temples and home to Malayala Manorama, the state newspaper that has the second largest circulation in India.
Being a small and quite town, Kottayam is a wonderful place to explore on foot, spend some time admiring the spectacular churches and experience the life of the Syrian Christian communities, which still exist today. Those visiting in March will have the opportunity to witness the Thirunakkara Utsavam festival, which, in typical Hindu fashion, is a grand display of vibrant colours, music and Kathakali dance performances.
There are good transport links running in and out of the town, especially for those bound for neighbouring Kerala towns. A pleasant way to travel to Alleppey is by one of the ferries departing frequently from the main jetty, 1 km south from the centre. From the KSRTC bus stand, south from the market on TB Road, regular services run to Trivandrum, Kochi and Kumily, for Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Private buses, departing from Nagambaram bus stand, close to the train station, connect to Kochi and Kumily. In addition, there are regular trains to Trivandrum, 10 daily, and Ernakulam, 12 daily.
Whether making a brief stop whilst connecting to other Keralan towns, or spending a few days relaxing in one of its many welcoming homestays before heading out onto the backwaters, Kottayam is a town to enjoy and savour. Blessed with temples and churches, surrounded by an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery, the town continues to play its part in the beauty of Gods own Country.

Things to do in Kottayam

Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple - This 500 year old temple, in the heart of town and built in true Keralan style, was commissioned by the maharaja of Tekkumkoor. The temple walls are fascinatingly painted in scenes of Hindu epics.

Thirunakkara Utsavam Festival - A 10-day festival held in March, with an extravaganza of events, including peacock and Kathakali dance displays. The highlight is the 9 elephant parade carrying the temple god to bathe, all amidst the sound of beating drums.
St Marys Cathedral Manarcad - Otherwise known as Manarkad Palli, this church is the most famous in the Kottayam region. It is believed that of all Keralan Christian sites, the cathedral draws by far the most pilgrims. The Ettunompu celebration (8 days lent) at the beginning of September often sees up to 1 million devotees, all coming to seek blessings.
Kumarakom - On the banks of the Vembanad Lake, 15km west of Kottayam, is this unspoilt backwater town. Blessed with less crowded canals and waterways it is a great place to take a houseboat tour, although likely to cost a good deal more than from Appelley.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary - A nature lovers paradise, spread across a site of 14 acres and home to a variety of migratory birds flocking from as far as Siberia. Best visited between November and February, for migratory birds, and June to August for general bird watching. Opening times are 6am - 5.30pm. Entrance Rs45. Buses from Kottayam depart every 15 minutes.
Bharananganam - A famous and important pilgrimage site in nearby Pala. Sitting on the shore of the Meenachil River, the area houses the 100-year-old St Mary’s Church and holds the remains of St Alphonsa (1916-46).

Hotels in Kottayam

Budget Hotels Kottayam

Ambassador Hotel - The best of the budget options, this hotel has large, quiet rooms and a bakery that is perfect for breakfast. KK Road. Tel (91) (481) 2563293.
Hotel Anjali Park- Clean rooms with all the facilities of a good hotel and at a reasonable price. KK Road. Tel (91) (481) 2563661.
Midrange Hotels Kottayam
Orchid Residency - Good value business like hotel with simple, comfortable rooms. There are Presidential and Royal suites for those wishing to splash out. Pulimoodu Jn, MC Road. Tel (91) (481) 2563141.
Pearl Regency - Another business orientated hotel with super efficient service and large rooms. For dining pleasures, there are two restaurants and a coffee shop. TB Junction, MC Road. Tel (91) (481) 2561123.
Luxury Hotels Kottayam
Windsor Castle - Kottayams most luxurious hotel, although not quite its English namesake. Choice of rooms in the main building or cottages sitting around a tranquil lake. MC Road. Tel (91) (481) 2363637.

Kottayam Weather

Kottayam Travel Resources



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This page was last modified on 24 Sep 2011 by Matt