Sailing Down the Backwaters
Kottayam, believed to be the seat of the Murinjanad Kings and later, the Thekkumkur Kings, is one of the most prosperous cities of Kerala. Bordered by the lofty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique traits.
Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, exquisite churches, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate population, have given this district the enviable title. The land of letters, latex and lakes. The land also boasts of housing the first Malayalam printing press, established by a Christian missionary in 1820 AD.
Kottayam is the ideal take off point for visits to Peerumede, Munnar, Idukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam and the temple city of Madurai. It is one of the industrially developed districts of the state.
10 km from Kottayam. A voyage north of Alappuzha takes you to the rich green, sleepy little village of Kumarakom on the Vembanad Lake. An enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating.
At Kumarakom, you could sail the backwaters in rented houseboats, which are poled by local oarsmen and are simply furnished with a living room, a bedroom and bath, together with a raised central platform creating a private sit-out for the passengers.
Sections of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. Boat trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together - make for a convenient mode of sightseeing when the company is large.
Kumarakom Tourist Village
Kumarakom Tourist Village that offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages. The otherwise quiet and peaceful lake comes alive bustling with joy at the arrival of Onam. It forms the centre of attraction during that time as the snake boat races are held there. The vigor of the boatmen, their cheerful and competitive spirit and the enthusiasm of the silent watchers is worth the bucks spent on a trip to this place.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
12 kms west of Kottayam town is this small village Kumarakom, which has a beautiful bird sanctuary on the banks of the Vembanad Lake and is an ideal place for backwater cruises. The 14-acre sanctuary is an ornithologist's paradise and a favorite haunt of migratory birds like Siberian stork, Egret darter, Heron and Teal. There are also different varieties of local birds like waterfowl, wild duck, cuckoo, owl, water duck etc.
In the sanctuary, there have beautifully wooded ground near the backwaters, is coconut lagoon heritage resort, which is one of India's most discrete holiday destinations. Guests stay in genuine 'Tharawad' (traditional wooden) cottages and love this unique culture
The bird sanctuary set in 14 acres is inhabited by a variety of avians of all description,some arriving from as far away as Siberia. You will find water fowl,water ducks,cuckoos etc, which nest and spend the summer here.
16 kms from Kottayam. Vembanad Lake is an intermingled and immense network of rivers and canals, it is so to say, just another paradise. It incidentally forms the joining point of all the rivers.
The lake is an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourist destination. It provides boating, fishing and sight seeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom tourist village also offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages.
Wagamon (Trekker's Paradise)
Situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level, Wagamon is called the trekker's paradise because it is an ideal place for trekking and a beautiful tourist spot surrounded by the greenery of tea plantations, meadows, valleys and dales. It is about 60 km from Kottayam.
The other attraction of this place is Kurisumala, a sky-scraping mountain with a small church on its peak. There is also a monastery on this hill, called Kurisumala Ashramam, which has a small community of ascetics who follow Christian faith but combines with it the Indian spiritual traditions and Gandhian thoughts. People of all faith are welcome to visit this place.
3 km from Vazhikkadavu is this renowned Christian pilgrim centre where hundreds of devotees from far and near converge during the holy week and after, to climb the hill in faith, carrying small wooden crosses.
The peaceful Jewish Monastery at the top of the hill, the silence of the hills, the cool mountain air and the lush green landscape are all soothing to the soul. On the eastern side of the hill is Muruganmala housing a rock cut temple dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Shiva).
Vimalagiri (Angathattu Palli)
Vimalagiri (Angathattu Palli) is the cathedral of the Dioceses of Vijayapuram.This church, constructed in Gothic style. The main steeple has a height of 172 ft., which is considered as the highest church steeple in the state. Vimalambika is the deity here. The main feast is in December.
This church is situated near Kottayam railway station. The chief ecclesiastical dignity of the Orthodox Syrian Church, the Catholics of the East, has his head quarters in Devalokam Aramana at Muttambalam Catholic Church, Latin Catholic Church and the Church of South India have their Head quarters in Kottayam. The Arch Bishop of Changanassery who follows the Syro-malabar rite, has his Head Quarters in Changanassery.
The Bishops of Knanaya Jacobite and the Church Mission Society have their headquarters at Chingavanam and Kurichy respectively.