The literal meaning of the term "Kottayam "(Kotta+Akam) in Malayalam means inside a fort. Kottayam mainly known for its backwater tours is a city with stunning landscape and significance.
* It is the first town to have attained 100 percent literacy and is also the hometown of the feted female award winning author- Arundhuti Roy who wrote her illustrious novel- "God of Small Things".
* This place had the first Malayalam printing press which was established by a Christian missionary Benjamin Bailey, in 1820 A.D.
* The first college in the State (CMS College) was also constituted here at Kottayam in 1840.
* Kottyam was also the first town in India which was chosen by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.
History: The chronicle of Kottayam dates back to the era of the Kulasekhara kings (1090-1102) when the region was united with Vempolinad. Kottayam has witnessed many social and political upheavals. The illustrious Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25), an imposing struggle for annihilation of untouchability, originated in this place of historical significance under the influence of distinguished national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, C. Rajagopalachari and E.V. Ramswami Naykar.
Places of Interest The varied places of interest in Kottyam are-
Vaikom Temple : This Shiva temple that is located 40 km away from the city is believed to be related with the legendary figure- Parshurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple is a magnificent work of art and exhibits the classical style of Kerala Temple architecture.
The Temple at Ettumanoor located about 12 km north of Kottayam, is famous for murals and the 'ezhara ponnana' or the elephants carved in gold.
You can visit the other pilgrim centres of Mannanam, Sabarimala, Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcadu, Aruvithura and Athirampuzha in Kottyam. Important temples of this place are Temples of Perunna, Vazhappally and Thrikkodithanam near Changanacherry.
The Mosque at Erumeli, located about 60 km north-east of Kottayam, is dedicated to Vavar, a companion of Lord Ayyappa, a Hindu deity. Every year, the sight of large number of Hindu pilgrims worshipping at this mosque before their pilgrimage to Sabarimala to worship Lord Ayyappa is particularly awe-inspiring.
St Mary's Forane Church - This 9th century church located at Athirumpuzha, near Kottayam is has an extraordinary filigree work on the rusty fold altar and this church encloses a unique crucifix which depicts Jesus Christ without a single wound.
You can also visit the St Mary's Church in Valiapally, St Mary's Orthodox Church at Cheriyapally and the St Joseph's Monastery at Mannanam.
Elaveezha Poonchira- It is a hill station that lies 60kms away from Kottayam and is an ideal place for picnics. It has a pool with picturesque beauty and legends say that this pool was used as a bathing place by Draupadi, the legendary persona of Mahabharata. You can trek on the enormous hills of 'Elaveezha poonchira' - a valley where no leaves fall and is named so because this place is devoid of trees.
You can stroll along the sprawling rubber plantations of Palatown and Kanjirappally, which are nurtured by the Meenachil and Manimala and witness the process of crude rubber-latex being collected and transported to factories.
Shop for an elegant Kottayam Saree (five metres of fine off-white cotton bordered with golden 'zari') which piece is woven on a traditional handloom and look stunning in it. Your trip to Kottayam would remain incomplete unless you sail in the sun- streaked backwaters of Kottayam on a kettuvallom(furnished traditional riceboats). Also cruise through the famous Vembanad Lake and behold the stunning beauty of the lilies, verdant paddy fields, 'kayar' (coir) villages, country houses and the copious coconut groves.
By Air: The nearest airport from Kottyam is at Cochin (Kochi) which is 76 km away. Another important airport is at Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) 160 km away.
By Rail: Kottayam is well connected with the main towns within and outside Kerala by an extensive rail network. The nearest railway station is located just 2 km away from the main bus station. There are regular trains from Kottayam to Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam (165 km), and Ernakulam (65 km).
By Road: Kottayam is connected to major cities of South India by a good network ofroads.There are two bus depots- the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus station on T.B. Road and a private bus stand near the railway station. Buses to major cities ply from the the KSRTC bus station