Anchuvilakku About 22km from Kottayam near the Changanacherry boat jetty stands Anchuvilakku. This kerosene lamppost made of stone is a typical example of Kerala architecture. It was built by the renowned freedom fighter Veluthampi Dalawa.
Ayyappara According to legends, the five Pandava brothers - epic heroes of the Mahabharatha - stayed near this rock, 2000 ft. above sea level and spread over 20 acres, during their exile. The name of the rock is said to be a modified version of the original term Anchupara (five rocks). However, some say that the name owes its origin to the Ayyappa Temple here. This temple has four pillars which support a flat piece of rock that forms the roof. On one side of the rock is a cave that can accommodate over 15 people. The sunset is beautiful from here. Above all, the cool mountain breeze does wonders to your mind and body.
Erumely ( Erumeli) About 60km northeast of Kottayam is an important pilgrim centre for both the Hindus and Muslims. Sri Dharma Sastha Temple, an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is located here. An ancient mosque dedicated to Vavar, the companion of the deity of the Sabarimala Temple, is also situated here. Hindu pilgrims customarily worship here before their trek to Sabarimala.
Ilaveezhapoonchira Skirting the Kottayam district are the beautiful valleys of Ilaveezhapoonchira, spread over thousands of acres. The verdant landscape punctuated by four gigantic hills, each rising to around 3200 ft., is an ideal place to unwind. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils yet another beautiful slice of nature.
Kannadipara This rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror like perfection that's worth experiencing. This is also the highest point in Ilaveezhapoonchira. 3km from here is the Pazhakakanam Plateau nourished by the Kadapuzha River. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place exotic. An added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfalls that playfully cascade down the mountain and greet the river below with a magnificent splash. On the eastern side of Kannadipara is a natural fort set amidst steep rocks.
Kottathavalam Near Murugan hills at Kurushumala, a flight of steps cut in the rocks takes one to this magnificent cave. Legends say that the royal family from Madurai rested here on their way to Poonjar. The rocks within the cave, carved like chairs and couches and the figures of Madurai Meenakshi, Ayyappa, Murugan, Kannaki and weapons sculpted on them, are all worth exploring.
Kurisumala 3km 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 Monastry 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). The road to Kurisumala offers some real sightseeing opportunities in a European model house and the beautiful artificial lake, both designed by the renowned architect, Laurie Baker.
Illickal Kallu Three hills, each rising to 4000 ft. and above, together form this huge hill. Each of the hills have a peculiar shape. One of them resemble a mushroom owing to which it gets its name Kuda Kallu (umbrella shaped rock). It is said that the medicinal herb Neela Koduveli, which bathes the hillsides in blue, grows here. This flower is also believed to possess supernatural powers which could increase wealth and ensure a rich harvest. The second hill, has a small hunch on the sides and is therefore referred to as Kuunu Kallu (hunch back rock). Across this rock is a 1/2 ft. wide bridge called Narakapalam (bridge to hell). From the hilltops, the Arabian Sea can be seen in the distant horizon as a thin blue line. The sunset on a full moon day is sensational.
Marmala Stream This scenic stream and its breathtaking waterfalls are together referred to as the enchantress of the jungle. Sliding down numerous hillocks from a height of 200 ft., the gushing water has etched out over the years a deep pond in the rocks. Right under the waterfalls is a natural bridge.
Syrian Churches The town is famous for its churches of which the Cheriyapalli and Valliapalli (Holy Virgin Mary Church) about 3 km north-west of the heart of the town are particularly well known. The former is famous for its beautiful murals and the latter for its Persian cross and Phalvi inscriptions.
Pathiramanal The enchanting island of Pathiramanal (literally, sands of midnight) lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. This little island is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to a legend, a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the island of Pathiramanal.
Poonjar Palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palanquin, a thoni - carved out of a single piece of wood - for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, different varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (dancing Lord Shiva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures which narrate stories from the Puranas (the legends of ancient India). However, the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on stone walls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rock cut lamps are rare in India.
St. Mary's Church Bharananganam The mortal remains of the Blessed Alphonsa are entombed at this church which is now a famous pilgrim centre. Thousands gather at this holy shrine during the annual festival: Feast of the Blessed Alphonsa (July) .
Vazhikkadavu On the outskirts of the district is this hill station of rocky terrains sought after for its pristine nature. On one side of the main rock are extremely tall and steep rocks and on the other is a valley of fearful depth. Bordering this crude landscape like a silver lace is the Meenachil River. During the months of December/January the landscape comes alive in a riot of colours with orchids and wild flowers worth seeing.
Wagamon This enchanting hill station on the Idukki - Kottayam border, dotted with tea gardens and meadows, is one of India's ecotourism projects. The breeding centre of the Kerala Livestock Board is located here.
Aruvithira Church 11km from Kottayam is believed to be one of the seven churches established by St.Thomas, this is also one of the churches in Kerala which collects the largest amount of monetary offerings during the festival days. The annual feast is celebrated on the 22, 23 and 24th of April.
Bhagavathy Temple Ambalakkadavu The Arattu ritual of the Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple takes place here. Festival : Vishu (April/May)
Bhagavathy Temple Manarkad This centuries old temple is dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali. Main events: Kalamezhuthupattu, Kumbha bharani, Meena bharani, Patham udayam, Mandalam chirappu.
Jama Masjid Thazhathangadi 2km from Kottayam town. This ancient mosque on the banks of the Meenachil River is believed to be at least 1000 years old and is one of the oldest in India.
Kalkulathukavu Temple Vazhappalli This temple is famous for its Mudiyeduppu utsavam (festival) celebrated once in 12 years and the rare art forms connected with it are famous. The procession carrying madhu (honey), kulavazha (plantain tree with the fruit), bhairavi purapadu and darika vadha purappadu etc. is a grand affair.
Kavil Bhagavathy Temple Changanacherry 18km from Kottayam was built by one of the Thekkumkoor Maharajas. Festival : Kavil chirappu (December - January)
Mahadevar Temple Ettumanoor 12km north of Kottayam is famous for its murals, especially the painting of Nataraja in the gopuram and ezharaponnana (the 71/2 elephants finished in gold) Festival : Ezharaponnana ezhunallathu (10 days in February/March)
Pazhayapalli Changanacherry is located 21 km from Kottayam town. This 950 year old mosque is one of the most famous ones of Central Travancore. The Chandanakuddam festival at the mosque is one of the largest crowd pulling events in Changanacherry town.
Saraswathi Temple Panachikkad This temple, also known as the Mookambika Temple of the South, holds the Saraswathi (goddess of learning and the arts) pooja every year in October/November . Children are initiated into the world of letters at the Vidhyarambham ceremony held here.
St. Joseph's Monastery Mannanam (Near Medical College) This church was built by the blessed Father Chavara Kuriakose Elias. The mortal remains of this saintly priest are preserved here. Thousands of devotees gather here to pay homage every day.
St. Mary's Church Cheriapalli 2km of Kottayam town was built in 1579 by Thekkumkoor Maharajah, this church displays outstanding architecture which is a blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals made in oriental and western styles on biblical and non biblical themes.
St. Mary's Church Manarcad 8km from Kottayam Town is one of the most important churches of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christians. The ettunompu (8 day fasting) is the main annual event when devotees from far and wide congregate to participate in the prayers and rituals.
St. Mary's Church Kuravilangad : Built in 355 AD on the high ranges of Kuravilangad town, this church has an old bell which bears an un-deciphered inscription.
St. Thomas Church Cherpungal is believed to have been established by the apostle St. Thomas, this church was relocated to the southern banks of the Meenachil River with the cooperation of poet Kunchan Nambiar and his family. In 1107, the Valiapalli was built on the original site. Here oil poured into lamps kept before the image of Infant Jesus is the votive offering - a ritual similar to the devotional practices of Hindus.