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Places to Visit

1.Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

This bird sanctuary is located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake and sprawls all over 14 acres. It is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron, and teal, which makes it an ornithologist's paradise. Visit the bird sanctuary, set amidst the lush acres of the forest, and catch a glimpse of a variety of migratory birds that flock in thousands, some from the Himalayas, and some even from as far as Siberia. Above all, watch the native kingfishers ablaze in psychedelic colours and go for a walk under rookeries of egrets and night herons or lone golden-backed woodpeckers, or enjoy the acrobatics of the paradise flycatchers.

Other than the bird sanctuary there is a 10-acre island on the lake Pathiramanal (sands of midnight) which is a serene place that you can’t miss if you are here. It is accessible by boat from the sanctuary. This island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to mythology, this island formed when a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions. The water then made way for the land to rise from below.

Attractions of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

The main attractions are the indigenous birds like the waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes. Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are also seen here during their respective migratory seasons. Viewing the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary You can hire a houseboat or a motorboat for watching the birds on the lake. Bird sanctuary trek At the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary, the main attractions are the waterfowls and Siberian cranes. Apart from that, the migratory birds also happen to be the major attraction. The best time to visit is from November to February.

Best Time To Visit

The peak season to watch birds is between June and August and to watch the migratory birds, November to February is the best.

2.Vembanad Lake

One of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia, the Vembanad Lake is a giant reservoir and a major ecological resource. It is surrounded by dense vegetation, which makes it a breathtaking place. It is famous as a picnic spot and is not too far away from Trivandrum. On its banks is situated the famous tourism destination Kumarakom, which is a little village consisting of a group of small islands. It is interspersed with lush green mangrove forests, paddy fields that stretch out far into the horizon and rows of staggering coconut palms that criss-cross the backwater canals. Indeed, it is a place where one can boat, fish, and discover the countryside of Kerala. Still now, a great amount of transportation takes place through lake. Numerous fascinating boats ply between the lake and the neighboring places. They vary from the large cargo carriers with mat-roofs to the rafts and houseboats.

3.Alleppey

Alleppey is one of the most important tourist centers in Kerala because of the large network of inland canals. It is known as the Venice of the east. These large networks of canals provide Alleppey its lifeline. It was one of the busiest centers of trade in the past and has one of the best-known ports along the Malabar Coast.

Apart from the inland canals, coir carpet industries and prawn farming are other major attractions. Alleppey is the ideal headquarter for backwater tourism as well as for visits to the town of Kottayam, and Aranmula, which is famous for its historic Aranmula Snake Boat Race held every year.

The other attraction of Alleppey is the spectacular snake-boat races held on the second Saturday of August, every year. This competition is known as the Nehru boat race because it was Sri. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, who inaugurated it in 1952. As the snake-boats, each operated by over a hundred oarsmen, cut through the waters like wind enthusiasm and excitement fills the ambience. This event is very popular among the tourists and the local population alike. Go for a boat cruise along the backwaters of Alleppey and discover the lifestyle of the locals. Catch them toddy tapping, fishing, coir making, prawn farming etc., which remains more or less unchanged over the years.

Aleppey Visit

There are umpteen coir and umbrella factories as well as Portuguese and Colonial go-downs, English Club and Aleppey Port, which are must-visit places.

4.Peermed

It is a small hill station situated in the picturesque High Ranges, at an altitude of 1066 meters above sea level in ldukki District. It is an absolute haven for those who want to escape form the tumultuous city life.

5.The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady

This sanctuary is adjacent to the Peryar Lake and is a haven for elephants, tigers, leopards, bison, spotted deer, wild pigs and many indigenous flora and fauna. Surrounded by a canopy formed from the mighty trees, this wildlife sanctuary is a nature lover’s paradise. Cruise the lake and watch herds of elephants, spotted deer, wild pigs, bison, and if lucky, you can catch a glimpse of a tiger or a leopard. Indeed, it will be an enthralling experience for you.

6.St. Mary’s Ferona Church, Tripunithura

The parishioners of Karingachira Church built this church around 12th century A D. It is also known as Nadamel Marth Mariam Church. The land on which the church is constructed was donated by Valamthuruthy Bhattathiri whose Illam (joint family) was afflicted by an illness which was cured through the intercession of the Holy Virgin. It was a custom for the Royal Highnesses of Cochin to meet the bishops and leaders of the Syrian Christian community at the church building, which is to the south of the church. The altar is highly decorated with beautiful carvings, which depicts the richness of the ancient art as well as the religious importance. The Throne Room or the resting room of the priests is decorated with monumental furniture, which signifies the aesthetic priority.

7.Mannanam

This is an important center of the Syrian Christians, which has the monastery of St. Joseph. Fr. Kuriakose Elias of Chavara, who is one of the most saintly figures in the annals of Syrian Catholic Church history, is associated with this place. The church houses the remains of Fr. Kuriakose who is regarded as a Servant of God. Therefore, the place is a prominent Christian pilgrimage centre. Adjacent to the church is an intricate network of shimmering waterways, which adorns the richly green landscape. This makes the surroundings very appealing.

8.Bharananganam

This village by the side of the banks of Meenachil River is a major Christian pilgrimage center. It is near Pala town in Kottayam district. It is famous because it is where the mortal remains of Blessed Alphonsa of India are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary's Church. Besides that, Bahrananaganam is also famous for Hindu temples.

The temple of Sree Krishna on the banks of river Meenachil is one of the major temples of south Kerala.

9.St. Mary's Church, Manarcad

his church is situated 9 km away from Kottayam. It is famous for the 8-day fast which is believed to bring the blessings of Virgin Mary. During these days, thousands of people from all over the world come to Manarcad to seek the blessings of Virgin Mary. This age-old custom of 8 day fast is celebrated every year between September 1 and 8.

10.St. Mary's Church, Kallissery

This church has an interesting beginning. The Knanaites built it in 1580 because flash floods had destroyed their 30-year-old church at Mazhukeer. It is famous because of the ancient portrait of St. Mary. The common belief is that the Knanaites carried the portrait during their migration. It is a well-known church in south Kerala where thousands of devotees throng to seek the blessings of Mother Mary.

11.St. Mary's Church, Athirampuzha

Athirampuzha Town is just 10 km north of Kottayam City. It is where this church is located. This is a very ancient church. The original church is believed to be constructed in 1080 A.D. Even though this church is dedicated to St. Mary, it is the feast of St. Sebastian and the display of fireworks connected with it that makes the church famous. The feast is celebrated for 5 days. Another thing, which is famous, is the very old sculpture of St. Sebastian that was brought during the days of the Portuguese. At that time, three images were brought to Kerala. Legend has it that local traders brought the smallest of them to Athirampuzha. This image is known as Adiyelpicha Roopam.

12.Good Shepherd Church

This church is having the rare honour of being the first church built by the Diocese of Vijayapuram. It is based on the Italian architectural style, which makes it a magnificent monument. It was completed in 1882 and was renovated in 1964. It is renowned for two feasts, one the St. Sebastian feast, which falls on January 20 and the other of the Good Shepherd, which is from 10th to 12th of April.

13.St. George Orthodox Church, Puthuppally

It is one of the oldest and renowned churches of Malankara Orthodox Church and is famous as Valiya Pally. The patron saint of this parish is St. George. Situated by the side of lush green coconut palms and a serene hamlet called Puthuppally, this church has a soothing ambience and is only eight km to the Kottayam City. This church is the refuge of thousands of people who come from all over the world to seek the intercession of St. George. About 400 years ago, the Malankara Metropolitan Mar Dianasiyous consecrated this church. The common belief is that this church was established as a shrine of Changanacherry Pally, which was a shrine of Niranam Pally, one of the Ezhara Pallis consecrated by St. Thomas, the apostle in India. This Church is renowned for the powerful intercession of the patron saint, St. George and many people have received favours from the God due to his intercession. It is firmly believed that Sahada (saint) protects those who take refuge, from serpents, ailments, and all kinds of dangers and troubles.

14.Valiyapally, Pala

This church is in Pala, a place renowned for rubber plantations, which is about 30 km far from Kottayam City. This church was built in 1002, and is dedicated to St. Thomas. During the 17th century A.D., the Muslim invaders destroyed it but it was reconstructed in the next century. The important festival of this church is the Rakkuhthirunal, which is celebrated on January 6 every year.

15.Vimalagiri Church, Kottayam

This church is very near to the Kottayam railway station and comes under the Diocese of Vijayapuram. It was in 1956 that the foundation stone was laid but it took many years to be built. Finally, the construction was completed in 1964. It is based on the Gothic style of architecture and is a paradigm of excellence in architectural splendor. The noteworthy feature is the main tower, which has a height of 172 ft. It is considered as the highest church tower in Kerala. The main festival is in December.

16.St. Mary's Church (Cheriya Pally)

This is one of the few old churches that has survived the ravages of time and is still in its near original state. It got its name Cheriya Pally which literally means small church because nearby there is a Valiya Pally (big church). However, it is amazing that the Cheriya Pally is much bigger in size than the Valiya Pally. The local Rajah built this church in 1579 for his Christian subjects. It shows strong temple architectural influences including an outer wall found around temples with niches for the oil lamps. It is interesting to see the Christian and the Hindu synthesis in the design of this church. The facade of the church has influences from the Portuguese style of architecture with galleries, pillars, cornices, and pediment

17.Erumely

This place is famous for the mosque, which is dedicated in the name of Vavar who was a friend of Lord Ayyappa. Here the most important festival is the Chandanakkudam, which is celebrated in the month of January every year. This coincides with the Makaravilakku of Sabarimala. The main attraction of this festival is the procession during the night, which includes the caparisoned elephants and Panchavadyam.

18.Erattupetta

The mosque at Erattupetta, is one of the famous mosques in Kerala. Here also Chandanakkudam festival is celebrated every year. Large hordes of people come here to take part in the processions

19.Changanacherry

Changanacherry has two famous mosques, Pazhayapalli and Puthupalli. The Pazhayapalli was built about 1000 years ago on the land donated by the King of Thekkumkur. Near this mosque, a Bhagavathi temple and Catholic church are situated, which depicts the religious harmony of the people here. The Puthurpalli is about 400 years old. Here the festival of Chandanakkudam is celebrated every year. At that, time lakhs of followers of different religions take part.

20.Thazhathangadi

The Thazhathangadi mosque is one of the ancient mosques in India. Built by Malik Dinar about 1000 years back, it is and important pilgrim centre at Kottayam. The artistic value of this mosque is also noteworthy.

21.Gurudwara

There is only one Gurudwara in Kerala and it is located in Peumanoor near Thevara, which is hardly three kilometers away from the heart of Kochi City

22.Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple

Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple is situated 1.5 km away from Kottayam Railway Station. Right in the heart of the city of Kottayam, the Maharajah of Tekkumkoor built this Siva Temple in the grand architectural style unique to Kerala. Sri Parameswara is the presiding deity. The main offerings in this temple are Chathu-satha and Dhara. The specialty of this temple is that, the Brahmin Ladies will not enter here and the people of a particular caste Moosad, will not carry the idols of the God. The annual ten-day festival at the temple ends with the Aaraattu ceremony. Folk arts like Mayilattom, Velakali etc, are presented in the temple premises in the evening. Another major attraction is the Kathakali performances during the festival.

23.Sri Vallabha Temple, Thiruvalla

This is a famous place of worship and devotees from all over the state come here in hordes. It is 35 km south of Kottayam through rail or road between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. This is one of the few temples where the traditional art form of Kerala, Kathakali is performed almost every night through out the year.

24.Dakshina Mookambika Temple

In Kerala, there are very few temples dedicated to Goddess Saraswathy. This temple is one among the few. It is 10 km from Kottayam on the way to Changanacherry. The Navaratri festival is famous throughout Kerala, which attracts a fascinating crowd.

25.Vaikom

It is a historically famous town situated on the eastern bank of the expansive Vembanad Lake just 40 km away from Kottayam City. It was the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Vadakkumkur. The ancient Mahadeva Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva situated here has earned an incomparable name throughout Kerala. Legend has it that Parasurama; the mythological creator of Kerala constructed this temple. It is also famous for the 12-day Ashtami festival celebrated during November and December. During this festival, the main attractions are elephant processions, religious discourses, traditional dance, and music performances. Apart from this temple, Vaikkom is also famous for the Vaikkom Sathyagraha, which started in 1924. The objective of the Satyagraha was to give the Harijans or the lower caste community the right to enter the temple and its premises. Though it started as a movement for social reforms, it later escalated into a major agitation. It all began when some people protested against the age-old custom of preventing people belonging to the lower castes or the Avarnas from using the roads surrounding the temple. The protestors belonged to the different sections of the society and were from both lower and upper castes. One of the significant moments of the protest was the Savarna Jatha led by Mannath Padmanabhan. Many upper caste Hindus marched to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore to submit a memorandum of demands to the Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bai. The Vaikkom Sathyagraha and the Savarna Jatha were instrumental in influencing the public in favour of admitting everyone to the temple. This agitation lasted for nearly 20 months. Finally, legendary freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi intervened in 1925 and ended the struggle. Finally, the Maharaja of Travancore, His Highness Sri Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma issued the historic Temple Entry Proclamation on 12 November 1936.

26.Karthiyayani Devi, Kumaranellor

The Karthiyayani Devi temple at Kumaranellor is just six kilometers away from Kottayam City. The most important festival is the Trikarthika, which is in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam that is from November to December. The highlight of this celebration is the Karthika Villaku, which is a spectacular display of lights in the evening.

27.Kidangoor Subramaniyaswamy Temple

This temple is situated at a distance of 23 km from Kottayam. The festival of this temple Thypoyam, which is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Makaram (January-February), is famous through out Kerala for the ritual of Kavadi Abhishekam. It is a significant part of the festival. On the other hand, the annual festival or Ulsavam takes place in the month of Kumbham (February-March).

28.Pallippurathu Kavu

This temple is dedicated to Devi and is located in the southern part of the Kottayam City. The main festival is the Kumbhakuta Mahotasvam, which is held on the day of Pathamudayam, the tenth day in the Malayalam month of Medam. The Garudan Thukkam celebrated at night attracts a multitude of devotees.

29.Saraswathy Temple, Panachikkad

This temple is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathy and is situated 8 km away from Kottayam City. Goddess Saraswathy is the goddess of knowledge and learning. The Saraswathy Pooja is a main event of this temple and comes in the Malayalam month of Thulam, September to October. On the day of Durgasthami, the Pooja Veppu is performed. All books are arranged in a decorated room and are worshipped and given special offerings. On this day, as per the Hindu custom no one studies or goes for work. Following day is Mahanavami, which is devoted to the worship of Goddess Saraswathy. Finally, the conclusion day of this Pooja is the Vijayadashami, which is known as Pooja Eduppu. This day is considered very auspicious for kids to start their first lessons in education. On this day, thousands of people throng to this temple to initiate their kids into education.

30.Thiruvarpu

This temple is devoted to Lord Krishna and is situated 6 km northeast of Kottayam City. Unlike other temples, here the offerings start as early as 3 o’ clock in the morning. The main festival is in the month of April and lasts for ten days. Vilakkeduppu is a major event during the festival in which unmarried young girls carry lighted lamps, Nilavellaku and take part in the procession during the evening hours. Besides that fest, this temple is also famous for Usha Payasam, which is the main offering or Vazhipadu.

31.Perunnai, Changanacherry

This is also one of the famous Subrahmanya Temples in Kerala and is about 20 km south of Kottayam City. The main festival is in the Malayalam month of Dhanu that lasts for 10 days during which hundreds of worshippers especially women attend the Shashti, a special ceremony performed here.

31.Koottickal

Vadakemala and Panchalimedu Koottickal and Vadakemala are in the Western Ghats near Mundakkayam. Koottickal is a scenic place blessed with mountains and forests. The artificial lake at Koottickal created by the Check-dam on the Manimala River is a mesmerizing place. Panchalimedu is also a picturesque place but it is more famous for the medicinal plants profusely grown here.

33.Elaveezhapoonchira

This rocky terrain is on the eastern periphery of Kottayam district. It is a picnic spot and is located in the midst of beautiful hillocks, mountain ranges, and rocky cliffs. Another attraction is the ancient mosque at Thazhathangadi near Thalikottah Palace. Elavvezhapoonchira is a seven km trek from Kanjiramkavala, which is some 15 km from Thodupuzha.

34.Vagamon

A popular spot for trekkers, Vagamon is about 60 km from Kottayam and 30 km from Pala. It is a popular getaway among the localities mostly during the summers for its salubrious climate. It is situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level, which makes it a picturesque place. The Kurishumala hill, the small church atop, and the nearby Kurishumala Ashramam are the important attractions here.

35.Kottayam

In Kottayam as the major fraction of the people are Christians, Hindus, or Muslims you will find a plethora of pilgrimage centers belonging to all these religions. The major Hindu pilgrim center is the Sabarimala. Among Churches the Kottayam Valiyapally, Puthupally and the Manarcad Church are the most famous churches at Kottayam.

The mosque at Thazhathangadi is one of the ancient mosques in India. What makes Kottayam popular is that it is the ideal take-off point for visits to Peermed, Munnar, ldukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam, and the temple city of Madurai. A guided trip to Thirunakkara Temple, Valiyapalli, Cheriyapalli, Thazhathangadi Mosque is arranged at Lakesong. When the sightseeing is over go for shopping spices, Kerala saris, coir products, rubber products or anything you find interesting.

36.Sreekrishna Temple, Ambalapuzha

This temple is an architectural wonder and adheres to the typical Kerala style. It is in Ambalapuzha, which is only 14 km away from Alleppey. The Palpayasam, a kind of sweet milk porridge that is offered to the deity makes this temple famous through out Kerala.

37.Karumadikkuttan

It is a quaint village just 3 km east of Ambalapuzha. A 10th century statue made of black granite, known as Karumadikkuttan or Lord Buddha is the chief attraction. There are many interesting folklore connected to it.

38.Champakulam

This waterlogged village is prominent for the marketplace or Angadi. It has the rare honor of being the place with the oldest marketplace known as Kalloorkkadu Angadi. Another major attraction is the St. Mary Forane Church renowned for the beautiful mural paintings. It was built back in 427 A.D. In Champakulam, you can still see Nadubhagum and Champakulam snake boats that take part in the annual boat races. Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall This is an ideal spot for one-day picnic. The notable feature of this waterfall is that numerous streams join to fall from a height of 100 feet, which makes it a captivating sight.

39.Aranmula

It is a small village known across the world as the venue of the annual Snake Boat Race on Pampa River. The Discovery channel describes Aranmula as a place one should definitely pay a visit in his lifetime. Apart from Snake Boat Race, this place is also famous for the metal mirrors, Aranmula Kannadi, Vijnana Kala Vedi, Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam, Maramon Convention to name a few.

The Aranmula Kannadi, meaning mirror of Aranmula, is made in this village. Only members of one family make it using high tin bronze. The composition of the metals is a secret that the family members only know. The Vijnana Kala Vedi is on the way to Kozhencherry. It is a school of traditional art founded by French artist Louba Schild. Another education center is the Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam, which is a school for teaching the traditional science of constructing buildings. The Maramon Convention, an annual event hosted by the side of the holy river Pampa also adds fame to this village.

The Aranmula Vallamkali, the world famous water carnival is the most renowned event of this place. It started in relation with the Thiruvonathoni, which starts on the evening of Uthraadam, the day before Thiruonam from Kaattoor Mahavishnu Temple with provisions for the Nivedyam and Samoohasadya, feast on Thiruvonam at the temple. Mangattu Bhattathiry, Thekaranavar, the eldest member of Mangattu Illom, offers the provisions. There will be a representative from the family on the Thoni, a small boat, as a part of tradition. The Thoni is symbolic of Lord Vishnu's Garuda and it is an amazing sight to see the Thoni moving down the river Pampa without rowing.

40.Pathiramanal

This tiny island is in the Vembanad Lake on the border of Kottayam and Alapuzha districts. Pathiramanal means sands of night. It is easily accessible through the Kumarakom-Muhamma water route and takes approximately 40 minutes from Kumarakom. The scenic beauty of the lake as well as that of the island is what attract the crowd.

41.Boat Races

It is an event as important as the land’s ethos and the elephant pageant. An age-old sport it emphasizes the excellent team spirit, integration, and amity of the people of the backwaters.

The snake boat races are held in connection with Onam, the harvest festival that falls in August and September. Scores of long snake boats and other smaller boats participate in these events, which are preceded by colourful water parades.