The Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is constructed as early as the 16th century by Thekkumkoor Raja. It is situated in the main city of Kottayam. It is built in Kerala style. The ‘Koothambalam’, of this temple is renowned for its design.
‘Koothambalam’ is the theatre of the temple, where traditional art and dance forms are performed. The walls of this Shiva temple are decorated with murals that narrate stories from epics. The temple draws lots of devotees and many others who come to see the beauty of the temple.
‘Phalguna Utsavam’ is the annual festival of the temple celebrated in the Hindu month of Meenam during the months of March and April. This festival is observed for 10 days and is wrapped up with “Arattu”. Cultural programmes and different temple arts are showcased during this festival.
Nattakam is a tiny village in Kottayam that falls in Pallom Taluk. It is around 6.5 km from the city of Kottayam. The charm of this village lies in its scenic beauty with the backdrop of lush greenery. This place is visited by several varieties of migratory birds in the summer season.
The chirpings of these birds create a musical atmosphere which converts this place into paradise. The Kottayam Port and Container Terminal (KPCT) is situated in Nattakom. You can visit Nattakam and rejuvenate yourself with Ayurvedic massages.
Moreover, you can enjoy other activities such as swimming, fishing and boating. Recently, this tiny village is turning out to be a tourist hotspot. This is a place worth visiting if you have an interest in photography.
Panachikad is another tiny sleepy village situated in Kottayam District. This idyllic village lies on the Main Central Road between Kottayam and Changanassery. The Panachikad village is around 11 km away Kottayam.
The village is famous for the Saraswathy Temple it houses. This temple is referred as Dakshina Mookambi. The characteristic of this temple is that it offers pooja throughout the year.
The village is a tourist favourite for its panoramic landscape. Panachikad is often visited by people who come here to unwind in the lap of nature. A sojourn in this tiny village can make you forget all your worries. Panachikad is an ideal place for those who love to shoot nature with lens.
Elaveezhapoonchira is famous among visitors as a scenic picnic spot. It lies on the laps of hillocks which makes it more alluring. It is situated 3200 ft above sea level. This place is a favourite among the trekkers too. A shutter bug likes to come here too as you can view the most beautiful rising sun and the setting sun from this verdant hill station.
From Kottayam you have to travel 55 km towards Palai to reach Elaveezhapoonchira. The place has no trees and “Elaveezhapoonchira” literally means “valley where leaves do not fall”. The place is fenced by Thonippara, Mankunnu and Kodayathoormal, which are three captivating hillocks.
These pristine hillocks are perfect for trekking. From these hillocks you can view panoramic views of Kottayam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Alappuzha.
The Poonjar Palace sits grandly at Poonjar enroute to Pala-Erattupetta from Kottayam. This palace is an evidence of the rich heritage of Kerala. The palace houses a wide array of royal antiques, beautiful sculptures and lamps engraved from rocks.
You will also find elegant furniture that includes a droni or a treatment bed and a palanquin. The doni bed is built out of only one piece of wood. There are splendid chandeliers and other exquisite lamps, jewel boxes, grain measures and palm leave engravings that enhance the beauty of the palace.
You will see fine craftsmanship in the statues, the Nataraja sculptures and weapons that the palace preserves from a bygone era. Along with all these items, there remains a unique conch which is used in rituals.
In the vicinity of the Poonjar Palace, stands the reproduction of the Meenakshi Temple of Madurai. The walls of this temple are decorated with sculptures that depict stories from the Puranas. The specialty of this temple is the row of lamps or Chuttuvilakku which are curved from rocks.
St. Mary's Orthodox Church is just 2 km away from Kottayam. It was erected in 1579 by Thekkumkoor Maharajah. This church is an Orthodox Syrian Church. The church exhibits an exquisite fusion of Kerala style of architecture and Portugese style. The walls of the church are decorated with wonderful murals which are painted in oriental as well as western styles.
The theme of these murals are both biblical and non-biblical. This church draws many tourists every year. If you are an art lover, this church is a must visit for you. You will be awe-inspired by the mind-blowing architecture and the lovely mural painting.
Thazhathangady Juma Masjid is listed as one of the Heritage Zones and is located in a small town near Kottayam, Thazhathangady. This masjid or the mosque is an ancient one, existing for more than a millennium. This thousand year old mosque is one the first masjids to be established in India.
The Thazhathangady Juma Masjid is eminent for its opulent architectural design and its intricate wood carvings. The mosque is often referred by the name “Taj Juma Masjid”. It is said that the founders of this masjid hail from various regions of Kerala.
Situated around 7 km from Kottayam, Thazhathangady Juma Masjid lies on the banks of the Meenachil river near to the Thiruverpu Temple. This place is a must visit when you are holidaying in Kottayam.
Pallippurathu Kavu lies at the Southern part of Kottayam at a place called Kodimatha. The residing deity of the temple is Bhadra Kaali. The family of Kottarathil Sankunny, who penned Aithihya Mala, owns this temple. Vishu and Pathamudayam are chief festivals observed in the temple of Pallippurathu Kavu.
The ritual of Theeyattu is performed here. This offering is made by the devotees for the welfare of their family. It is considered that by making this offering, one can seek blessing from Bhadra Kaali and the Goddess will protect from all illness and disease.
The Subramanya Swami Temple is located around 20 km from Kottayam at Changanacherry. This is one of the few temples in Kerala consecrated to Lord Subramanya. This temple is a very old temple dating back to 753 A.D. It is considered to be one of the first temples that is open to all people irrespective of caste, class and religion.
The idol of the temple is about 6 ft tall. Moreover, the ‘Vel’ or the spear that the Lord Subramanya idol holds is pointed towards the earth instead of pointing upwards. ‘Pallimetta Utsav’ is the annual festival celebrated in this temple.
This festival lasts for 10 days and is observed during the Hindu month of Dhanu, which falls in the months of November and December. The main rite performed during this festival is Chakiarkooth. The Subramanya Swami Temple is managed by the ‘Urazhma’ Devaswam Board. Being an ancient temple, this temple is worth visiting.
The Saraswathy Temple of Kottayam is the only temple in Kerala which is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathy. It is also known by the name Dakshina Mookambika. The temple is located near Chingavanam. According to local beliefs, this temple was set up by Kizheppuram Namboodiri, who found the idol and set it facing east.
He consecrated another idol facing west. But the idol facing west does not have any shape, and it is this idol that is worshipped. There is a stone lamp near the idol which is kept burning all the time. Panathi Kuthu Chedi plants surround the idol facing east.
Nobody is allowed to remove these plants, and it is said that these plants never wilted. Navarathri is observed at this Saraswathy Temple with much grandeur. The temple remains open from 5.30 AM till 11.30 AM and reopens between 5 PM and 7.30 PM.
The Thiruverpu Temple is another important temple of Kerala which is dedicated to Lord Krishna. This temple stands on the banks of Meenachil river at a distance of around 7 km from Kottayam. This temple is believed to be some 1500 years old. There are several legends associated with this temple.
However, all these legends refer to the recovery of the deity of Lord Krishna of the temple. The deity of Thiruverpu Temple has four hands, and the idol was considered to be kept in an Uruli. The temple is unique in many ways.
First is the method of preparation of the payasam in the wee hours of the day. Second, the head priest of the temple is given an axe as well as the key to open the temple door. If for any reason the door cannot be opened by the key, the priest can break in using the axe.
Third, the temple remains open during an eclipse. The Thiruverpu Temple also has a shrine of Bhoothanatha. Moreover, there are temples for Ganapathy, Subramanya, Shiva, Bhagawathy and Yakshi outside the temple venue.
Kottathavalam stands around 70 km away from Kottayam. It is a marvellous cave situated near Murugan hills at Kurisumala. This place is one famous tourist attraction of Kottayam. The cave can be reached by a staircase carved out of rocks. There are sculptures in this cave that take the form of chairs and couches.
Figurines of Lord Ayyappan, Murugan, Madurai Meenakshi and Kannaki are also engraved there. The myth associated with this cave goes like this: The royal family of Madurai on their way to Poonjar had a sojourn in this place. In Malayalam, “kotta” means fort and “valam” means “high land”. Hence, the place got its name as the royal cave is enveloped by hills. It is a beautiful place on the backdrop of verdant hills. Kottathavalam is visited by hundreds of tourists every year.