Kottayam is an important commercial centre of Kerala, situated in the southern part of India. Sandwiched between tranquil palm-lined backwaters on the west and the Western ghats on the east, Kottayam is among the state's most mountainous regions, providing some of Kerala's finest natural scenes. The town is surrounded by some of the most fertile and beautiful scenery in the state with hills to its East and backwaters to the west. Kottayam is the ideal take off point for visits to Peermedu, Munnar, Idukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam and the temple city of Madurai. Most of India's natural rubber originates from the lands of well-kept plantations of Kottayam, also home to the Rubber Board, one of the country's primary commodities board.
The nearest airport is at Ernakulum. It is 2 hrs (65km) by train from Ernakulum to Kottayam. Buses between Ernakulum and Kottayam are frequent. They usually terminate ay Thekkady but stop at Kottayam, which is en route.There are regular train services from Ernakulum (2 hrs) and Thiruvananthapuram (3 hrs).
Bus connections to Kottayam are good too. Private operators and the state department run buses to and from Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulum, Munnar, Thekkady (for Periyar Tiger Reserve). It's also easy to get a bus connection to Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Some of these journeys may be uncomfortable by bus.
The quay is a little outside town. You can roam Kerala's emerald lagoons on the 2½ hour boat ride to Alappuzha. At Alappuzha, consider taking a proper cruise ? Kerala's winding canals whispering past drooping trees are worth it. Backwater cruises take off from the quay, which is 3 km outside town. There are 4 ½ hr long cruises that take you around the surrounding countryside. Some also take you up to Alappuzha in a 2½ hr pleasant ride.
The ubiquitous three-wheeler auto-rickshaw is in Kottayam too. Cycle-rickshaws cover small distances though your perch might be slightly precarious as you go over the bumps. You could hire a private taxi that like a private chauffeur-driven car and is at your beck and call.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Kottayam
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Shiva Temple: This Shiva temple was built in the South Indian style of temple architecture. The murals on the walls are a major attraction here. The sanctum sanctorum is decorated with scenes from Hindu epics. In the month of March, on the occasion of the annual temple festival the temple pulls in a large number of pilgrims.
Valiyapally: Built in AD 1550, this is one of the largest churches in Kottayam. The church is dedicated to St. Mary and is located in Thazhathangadi about 4km northwest of the town center. The church is known for two 8th-century Persian crosses with Pahlavi inscriptions that prove them to be the earliest examples of Christianity in India.
Cheriyapally: The church of Cheriyapally is dedicated to St. Mary. Built in 1579 AD, the church houses some exquisite vegetable dye paintings on the ceilings and walls depicting biblical and non-biblical themes.
Thazhathangadi Mosque: Known for its exquisite architecture, the mosque forms an important pilgrim center of Kottayam. The 1,000-year-old mosque at Thazhathangadi is believed to have been built by Malik Dinar.
Good Shepherd Church: The Good Shepherd Church is the first church of the Diocese of Vijayapuram, built in the Italian style. The construction of the Church was completed in 1882 and was renovated in 1964. The annual feast of Good Shepherd is held here in the month of April every year.
How to Reach Kottayam
Air : The nearest airport is at Cochin (Kochi) located 76 km from Kottayam.
Rail : Kottayam is well connected with the major towns in and outside Kerala by an extensive rail network. The railway station is situated just 2 km away from the central bus station. There are regular trains from Kottayam to Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam (165 km), and Ernakulam (65 km).
Road : Kottayam is connected to major cities of South India by good motorable roads.