Kottayam ( Kerala , South India)
Kottayam district of Kerala is about 96 kms from Kollam by train. Situated on the foothills of scenic western ghats and surrounded by plantations of rubber, tea, pepper and cardmom, Kottayam also has a delightful system of canals and backwaters. There is a regular ferry service from Alappuzha to Kottayam. Kottayam has a large population of Syrian Christians who have built many churches from the olden days. Kottayam is known as the Rome of Syrian Christian faith. The Syrian Christians of Kottayam claim that the present day Syrian Christians are the descents of the Christians from the time Christ's Apostle Thomas came to India in 52 A.D. It is a town built on wooded hills with white spires of churches peeping through the palms.
The Valia Palli popularly known as the big church here is famous for its ornate altar and the decorative Persian Crosses that adorn the side altars. Cheria Palli Church is almost five hundred years old and is rich in murals, blending western Coptic tradition and Oriental colour. There are beautiful carved multiple altars. The churches have Hindu influence in architecture and the cross has been ascribed to St. Thomas. It is carved on a stone and bears inscriptions in Pehlavi.
There are many tourist places in and around Kottayam which naturally makes Kerala a famed tourist destination of India and world.
Kandiyur Mahadeva Temple: Kandiyur Mahadeva Temple is about 48 kms from Kottayam. Situated very near Mavallikera town on the banks of Achankovil river, the temple of Shiva dedicated to Mahadevar, is considered as one of the ancient shrines in Kerala. It is popularly called here as Dakshina Kashi and surrounded by a thick, high wall of hard laterite rocks. The temple and other subsidiary shrines are constructed in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. The main hall of the temple is called Koothambulam where narration of epic stories used to take place conducted by Chakkiyars, experts in that art. The temple is known for the beautiful wood work carvings and is a specimen of ancient Kerala art. The annual Maha Shivarathri festival attracts large crowd of devotees.
Peermade Hill Resort: An enchanting place amidst rubber and tea plantations, this has been developed as a hill station and a health resort.
Idukki Reservoir: This is one of the major Hydro-Electric projects in Kerala. Literally, the word Idukki means narrow gorge. An arch dam has been constructed across the Periyar river between the two hills called Kuruban and Kuruthi. Local legend ascribes these two hills to a tribal couple who were turned into huge blocks of rock by Sri Rama. The biggest power house in the state is situated below the dam. Cruising in the river is an unforgettable experience as the streams, valleys and surrounding hills enhance the beauty of the place. There is an Inspection Bungalow at the dam site which can be used for overnight stay if required. The place is excellent for picnic, but prior permission is necessary.
Thiruppuliyur: About 35 kms, a Vaishnava temple dedicated to Maha Vishnu is located at village of Thiruppuliyur, which is considered sacred. Tirumangai Alwar and Nammalvar have sung in praise of this place. Popularly known as Puliyur, the worshipping customs followed in this temple are peculiar. The main deity in the shrine is Padmanabhaswamy. In another shrine a tall four armed idol of Vishnu is installed. There are subsidiary shrines for Shasta and Ganapati.
How to reach Kottayam
Kottayam is connected by rail and road with many parts of the country. Buses ply from the town to many interior places also. Excellent lodgings and rest houses provide accommodation to visitors. Taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hired for local transport.