Kottayam, a charming town in the Indian state of Kerala, is a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Nestled amidst lush landscapes and serene backwaters, Kottayam offers a plethora of attractions for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience in this southern Indian paradise. Here are the top places to explore in Kottayam.
A. Kottayam’s Charms
Kottayam, often referred to as the “Land of Letters,” is a picturesque town situated in the southern Indian state of Kerala. With its lush greenery, serene backwaters, and a rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder that Kottayam has earned its reputation as a must-visit destination in Kerala.
B. Cultural Heritage and Natural Beauty
The town is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, boasting ancient temples, churches, and mosques, each with its unique history and architectural splendor. Additionally, Kottayam is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the Vembanad Lake, which offers visitors the chance to explore enchanting backwaters and witness awe-inspiring sunsets.
C. Purpose of the Blog
The purpose of this blog is to unravel the hidden gems of Kottayam, showcasing the top places to explore. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, a nature lover, or a devout pilgrim, Kottayam has something to offer everyone.
2. The Enchanting Backwaters of Vembanad
A. Vembanad Lake: A Natural Wonder
At the heart of Kottayam lies the Vembanad Lake, Kerala’s largest lake and a pristine jewel of nature. This mesmerizing expanse of water stretches far and wide, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
B. Serene Backwaters and Houseboat Rides
One of the most enchanting experiences in Kottayam is a houseboat ride through the serene backwaters of Vembanad. As you glide on the tranquil waters, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque landscapes, creating a sense of serenity that’s second to none.
C. Tranquility and Breathtaking Sunset Views
The magic of Vembanad is further amplified during the evening hours when the sun begins its descent. Watching the sunset over the lake is a breathtaking experience, as the sky is painted in hues of orange and pink, casting a warm glow over the tranquil waters.
3. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
A. Historical Significance
Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, with its rich history dating back centuries, is a significant pilgrimage site in Kottayam. Devotees and history buffs alike are drawn to this temple to explore its ancient past.
B. Stunning Dravidian Architecture
The temple’s architecture is a testament to the artistic brilliance of the Dravidian style. Intricate carvings, towering gopurams (entrance towers), and ornate sculptures adorn the temple, making it a visual delight.
C. Ettumanoorappan Festival
One of the most auspicious occasions in Kottayam is the annual Ettumanoorappan Festival, celebrated with great fervor at the temple. The festival is marked by vibrant processions, traditional music, and a palpable sense of devotion.
4. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
A. Bird Lover’s Paradise
Kottayam is not just about temples and backwaters; it’s also a haven for bird enthusiasts. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake, is a paradise for birdwatchers.
B. Diverse Bird Species
A large diversity of bird species, both resident and migratory, call the sanctuary home. You can spot everything from herons and egrets to kingfishers and cuckoos, making it a bird lover’s dream come true.
C. Picturesque Boat Rides
Exploring the sanctuary is best done by taking a peaceful boat ride. As you glide through the serene waters, keep your camera ready to capture the myriad of birdlife that calls this place home.
5. St. Mary’s Church, Bharananganam
A. Religious Significance
For those interested in exploring the religious diversity of Kottayam, a visit to St. Mary’s Church in Bharananganam is a must. This church holds deep religious significance and historical importance.
B. Architectural Beauty and Peaceful Atmosphere
The architecture of St. Mary’s Church is a blend of traditional Kerala and colonial styles. The tranquil atmosphere within its premises provides a sense of solace and reflection.
C. Connection to St. Alphonsa
St. Mary’s Church is closely associated with St. Alphonsa, Kerala’s first saint. Pilgrims from far and wide visit this church to pay their respects to the revered saint and seek her blessings.
5. Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple
A. Historical and Cultural Importance
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple is another prominent Hindu shrine in Kottayam, known for its rich history and cultural significance. The temple is an architectural masterpiece and a reflection of Kerala’s unique temple heritage.
B. Unique Architecture
The temple’s architecture, characterized by its intricate woodwork and traditional Keralite style, is a testament to the craftsmanship of the region’s artisans.
C. Thirunakkara Arattu Festival
The grandeur of Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple is at its peak during the annual Thirunakkara Arattu Festival. The temple comes alive with vibrant processions, traditional music, and a fervent sense of devotion.
6. Vaikom Mahadeva Temple
A. Hinduism’s Sacred Site
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, situated in the town of Vaikom near Kottayam, holds immense significance in Hinduism. It is believed to be one of the few temples associated with the epic Mahabharata.
B. Traditional Kerala Architecture
The temple’s architectural beauty follows the traditional Kerala style, with ornate carvings, wooden structures, and a serene pond at its entrance.
C. Vaikom Ashtami Festival
The Vaikom Ashtami Festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm at this temple. Devotees from all over Kerala gather to participate in the festivities, which include grand processions and cultural performances.
8. Illikkal Kallu
A. The Illikkal Kallu Adventure
For the adventurous souls, Illikkal Kallu is an exciting destination in Kottayam. This majestic hill is a trekker’s paradise, offering thrilling trails and panoramic views.
B. Trekking Experience and Panoramic Views
Trekking up Illikkal Kallu is a rewarding experience. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of lush landscapes, nearby hills, and the shimmering Vembanad Lake.
C. Best Time to Visit
The best time to conquer Illikkal Kallu is during the early morning or late afternoon to witness the sunrise or sunset, respectively. The play of light and shadows over the landscape is truly a sight to behold.
9. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid
A. Islamic Heritage in Kottayam
Kottayam also boasts a rich Islamic heritage, and one of its most significant landmarks is the Thazhathangady Juma Masjid.
B. Elegant Architecture
This mosque stands as a testimony to the elegant architectural style that blends traditional Kerala elements with Islamic design, creating a visually captivating structure.
C. Significance for the Local Muslim Community
The Thazhathangady Juma Masjid holds deep religious and cultural significance for the local Muslim community. Visitors are encouraged to respect the customs and traditions while exploring this historic mosque.
In Conclusion, Kottayam often overshadowed by its more popular neighbors in Kerala, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Its enchanting backwaters, historical temples, serene churches, and vibrant festivals make it a unique destination for travelers seeking both spiritual enlightenment and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the tranquil waters of Vembanad Lake, trekking the rugged terrain of Illikkal Kallu, or immersing yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Kottayam’s religious sites, this charming town promises an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags, embark on this journey, and let Kottayam reveal its hidden treasures to you.