The capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland. It’s bounded by the Arabian Sea on the West and Tamil Nadu on the East. The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the Eastern and North Eastern borders give some of the most enchanting picnic spots, a long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make this district a much sought after tourist destination. Tourism has also contributed heavily to the economy of Thiruvananthapuram. Foreign tourists are flocking to Thiruvananthapuram and are one of the major destinations for chartered flights to India for Medical tourism, as there are more than fifty recognised Ayurveda centres in and around the city. This is primarily due to Ayurveda’s immense popularity in the West. Medical tourism is further promoted by the recuperation facilities available at the beach resorts and hill stations nearby.
The capital city of the state is also headquarters to a lot of important activities and institutions. Thiruvananthapuram, apart from the museums, observatories and galleries, the district also has many temples, monuments and palaces that are illustrations of the brilliance of Kerala architecture. The many beaches in Thiruvananthapuram, mantled by rocky ledges and palms add much charm to tourists experience and memory. Kappil and Vettaka, with its long sandy sea front that are linked to the backwaters also qualify as perfect getaways. The control center for the state’s television and radio broadcast, and the location for India’s first space research organization, Thiruvananthapuram has lots to offer even to visitors with an inclination towards science and technology.
Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple
– 12 kms north of Kottayam
This famous temple is well known for the several temple murals that add to the beauty of the monument. The gopuram or the headstone of the temple has a painting of Nataraja- one of the forms of Lord Siva. There is also the well known structure, ezhara ponnana. It is a magnificent sculpture of seven and a half elephants, and it is done in gold. The temple celebrates a festival in honour of the sculpture. This is called the Ezharaponnana Utsavam and is celebrated in February/ March.
– 5kms from Pala
This church is one of the most important pilgrim centers in South India. The sacred place also known as Anakkallu Palli is also the chosen spot to preserve the mortal remains of blessed sister Alphonsa. Her death anniversary is commemorated here every year and it is a function that attracts believers.
Kottayam also has several other famous churches, each of which has some feature that earns it a distinct place. The Mannanam Church preserves the remains of blessed Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara. The Kottayam Vimala Giri church, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Vijayapuram and is also considered to have the highest church steeple (172 feet) in the state. The Manarcaud St. Mary’s Church and the Pala Valiyapally are famous for its celebrations of the famous Ettu Noyampu and Rakkullithirunal respectively.
Pilgrim Centres and Religious Festivals
Kottayam, where several well known temples, churches and mosques dwell side by side, is the doorway to famous Hindu, Christian and Muslim pilgrim centers.
This is probably where nature has perfected its work with contrasts. This hill station situated in the outskirts of the district presents the most mind-blowing picturesque scenery. The famous Meenachil river gurgles through the landscape, bordering the clusters of steep rocks that overlook a deep valley. The best time to visit the place is December- January when one can find plenty of vibrant flowers and vivid orchids that paint an even more gorgeous picture.
– 16 kms away from Kottayam
Kumarakom is one of the most sought after tourist destination in Kerala. It is synonymous with luxurious backwater cruising. However, a holiday on this perfect little village on the Vembanad Lake also provides opportunities for boating, fishing and certain other water sports as well. A day in spectacularly built houseboats, among acres of rice fields, exquisite forests and vast expanse of water, is an experience one cannot afford to miss. The variety of birds that visit the bird sanctuary here adds more colour to the sweet memory of one’s visit to Kottayam.
This famous water body around Kumarakom, is instrumental in gifting Kottayam with the wealth of backwaters. There are facilities to boating and fishing. A ride along the lake will also present pleasant pictures of the simple village life in Kerala.
Panachikkad Saraswathi Temple
– 18 kms away from Kottayam
This temple was erected to worship Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning. There is famous Saraswathy Pooja celebrated here in the month of Thulam (September/October) that attracts devotees and tourists from far and near.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Thalikota temple, Kudamaloor temple is equally famous, Siva Temple at Vaikom, Thiruvarpu Lord Krishna Temple, Subramanya Temple, Suryakshethram (temple in honour of the Sun god) are the other famous temples in Kottayam. The artwork and woodcarvings at these temples are examples of great craftsmanship and instance of typical Kerala style architecture.
Erumeli mosque in the name of Vavar, a friend of Lord Ayyappa, is almost as famous as the Sabarimala Temple itself. The Chandanakkudam festival celebrated here every January is a grand festival complete with dazzling procession with caparisoned elephants and panchvadyam. The mosque and the festival here convey the spirit of Hindu-Muslim unity.
The Pazhayapally and Puthuppally mosques at Changanassery , Erattupetta mosque and the ancient mosque at Thazhathangadi are famous Muslim worship centers.
Beautiful High Ranges
Kottayam is flanked by the mighty Sahya Mountains in the East, and this gifts the place a cool climate, panoramic views and faint tranquility. Several spots here would make ideal picnic spots and idyllic getaways.
Poonjar Palace The palace is a wonderful monument that speaks of the history of early royal families and also showcases ancient Kerala architecture. There is also an astonishing collection of antiques and artifacts preserved in the palace. Splendidly carved palanquins, special boats, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, gorgeous jewel boxes, different varieties of lamps, sculptures and idols, grain measures, statues and weapons are some of the many amazing displays
This 10 acre stretch of land on the serene backwaters near Kumarakom, is a perfect picnic spot intact and unpolluted, Pathiramanal is accessible only by boat. The marvelous site is also the favourite of many species of birds from far and wide.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
It is a 14 acre bird sanctuary on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. There are many different varieties of birds that make this their home from time to time. One can spot Egrets, darters, herons, teal, waterfowl, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian stork on their visit to the sanctuary.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls in Kumarakom
– 18 kms from Kottayam town
This magnificent falls add life and zest to the serenity that prevails through most of Kumarakom. It is also a beautiful picnic spot and a lovely getaway.