Encompassing charming hill stations, holy centers, and refreshing backwaters, Kottayam fully captures the beauty of God’s own country. Located in the basin of the Meenachil River, the district features some of the best tourist places in Kerala. Illikkal Kallu with its cloud-kissed hills is a prominent attraction of the place. The thicket of Ela Veezha Poonchira, the view from Nadukani, and the exquisite beauty of the Marmala waterfalls are incredible. These and so many other locations proclaim the natural beauty of the land. The houseboat ride from Kumarakom should not be missed because of its incomparable tranquility.
Kottayam is famous for its rubber cultivation. Many Malayalam dailies and publishing houses are headquartered in the district which earned it the nickname ‘Akshara Nagari’ meaning the city of letters. The land witnessed many historical events since the Thekkumkur rule that started in 1100. The latest and the most memorable of which is the Vaikom Sathyagraha of 1924, which marked the epic struggle against untouchability. Mahatma Gandhi, the great pacifist, and father of the nation visited the land during this time.
Tourist Places in Kottayam
Ela Veezha Poonchira (Illa Veezha Poonchira)
Ela Veezha Poonchira is a charming hill station located almost 60 kilometers away from Kottayam town. At a height of 3200 feet above sea level, the point provides a panoramic view of the hilly terrain and green valley. Visitors can spot the Malankara Dam at a distance. The steep cliffs and rocky terrain pose an exciting challenge for the mountaineers. Plodding through the green paradise is also alluring. Hence many trekkers visit the place. The ride to the destination through the unpaved road is an adventure in itself. A Malayalam movie named Ela Veezha Poonchira was released in 2022 starring Soubin Shahir and Sudhi Koppa.
Saint Mary’s church located in Bharananganam is famous for the tomb of Saint Alphonsa — a nun who was sanctified by the Catholic church. Located in a quiet and rejuvenating environment, the place provides a meditative atmosphere. The church is famous for many miracles. Many have testified that they were cured of their diseases deemed fatal by modern medicine. Hence the place witnesses a large flow of pilgrims and tourists visiting Kerala. Adjacent to the chapel, there is a museum which has many of the Saint’s belongings and her room where she spent the final years of her life. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Also known as Vembanad Bird Sanctuary, the place is best suited for bird watching. Many types of indigenous and migratory birds can be seen in the place located in the banks of Vembanad lake. Spreading over an area of 14 acres, the dense thicket has interconnected paths to walk around and watch the activities of the birds. One can find several varieties of avifauna like Koel, Waterfowl, Egret, Darter, Brahminy Kite and migratory species like Flycatcher, Gull, Tern, Teal, and so on. These rare varieties give the sanctuary a respectable spot in the top tourist places in Kerala.
Kumarakom has interconnected backwaters which proclaims the exceptional beauty of Kerala. The best way to enjoy the charm of these water bodies is to cruise through it. The traditional houseboats of Kerala are the best means to do so. Furnished with all facilities of a house including bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, and sit-outs, the boats provide a great experience. The placid blue water and emerald green shores with swaying coconut trees is an exquisite sight. Tourists enjoy the gentle sway of the boats and cool breeze disheveling the hair. The unique experience makes house boating in Kumarakom the most preferred activity by tourists visiting Kerala.
The ancient rock-cut cave of Kottathavalam is a tourist attraction in Kottayam district. Believed to be the picnic spot of the Madurai royal family, the cave is a magnificently carved spot. There are numerous carvings on the wall depicting the legends of Kannaki, Ayyappa, and Muruga. The steep rock-cut steps lead up to the top of Muruganmala. The view of the rocky mountains blanketed in greenery is enough to make anyone ecstatic. Hence the history lovers and naturalists visiting Kerala try to include Kottathavalam in their itinerary.
The high point of Nadukani hills is famous for its unbelievable view. The topmost point, located 3000 feet above sea level, gives a bird’s eye view of low lying valley. An array of cloud kissed hills covered in greenery makes for an enthralling sight. Small streams that adorn the hills like a silver ornament can be seen. The majestic view from the point makes one timid about the diminutiveness of human life. Thus the place is given a respectable spot in the list of Kerala’s exceptional tourist locations.
A monolith towering towards heavens, Illikkal Kallu is a hot tourism spot in Kerala. It consists of three peaks, each named according to the peculiarity of their shape. One resembles a mushroom and is called Kuda Kallu (umbrella stone). The second looks like a small hunch and is hence named Koonu Kallu. The third one is the Illikkal Kallu, from which a huge part has fallen off. The walk through the half foot wide Narakapalam (bridge to hell) connecting Koonu Kallu and Kuda Kally is a scary and exciting at the same time. The hill stands tall amidst thick forest. Thus the view from the point is awe-inspiring.
Vaikom is a small town in Kottayam. It is famous for its temple and historic events. The Shiva temple located here is one of the biggest temples in Kerala. The Sreekovil of the temple is designed in an oval shape which is not a common practice. Constructed in a square shape with stone, the sanctum sanctorum houses Shiva lingam. The place is also famous for Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25), a non-violent struggle against caste discrimination and freedom of movement. Mahatma Gandhi visited Vaikom in support of the movement. Hence the place attracts tourists visiting Kerala with its history and myths.
The 40-meter high waterfall in Marmala is a charming beauty. The clear, cool water plummets into the 12-meter deep pond. During rainy seasons the cascade becomes huge and falls with great fury. It is hence considered to be the best time to visit Marmala falls. Nestled in between the thick bushes, the falls can be reached only by trekking. One has to be careful while walking through the path above slippery rocks. The excitement of reaching the falls after the difficult trek is indescribable.
The 600-year-old palace at Poonjar is a great place to visit in Kottayam. It proclaims the history of the Poonjar dynasty. Constructed in the ancient Chera and Pandya styles of architecture, the palace mostly used wood. A temple is built inside the palace according to the ancient laws of Vaastu Shastra. This makes the palace different from others. Many antique items can be found in the museum that the palace houses. Huge chandeliers, jewels, rock-carved lamps and sculptures, palm leaf scripts, ancient weapons, and so on can be found here. These attractions make it one of the best tourist places to visit in Kerala.
Thazhathangady Juma Masjid
The historical mosque at Thazhathangady is a must-visit shrine in Kottayam. Believed to be over 1000 years old, the mosque is one of the oldest of its kind in Kerala. The wood carvings, architectural peculiarities, and historical importance allure tourists to the Juma Masjid. The façade of the mosque built in the Kerala architecture is reminiscent of a Hindu temple. Meenachil river flows close to the mosque and adds to the calm and tranquil atmosphere of the religious place.
Ettumannoor Mahadeva temple is an ancient shrine that exemplifies the Hindu religious practice. Legend has it that the idol here was worshipped by Pandavas, the five brothers in the Indian epic Mahabharatha. Hence Ettumannoor temple is a great place to visit in Kerala. The present-day building was constructed in 1542 AD. Experts point out that the mural paintings on the walls are in Dravidian style. The Pradosha Nritham fresco is a fine piece of art. The architecture of the temple with its 14 ornamental tops glorifies the skills of Vishwakarma Sthapathis — the architects. It is believed that the great philosopher Adi Shankara wrote his famous work Soundarya Lahari. Tourists love the famous Ezhara Ponnana festival, in which 8 golden statues of elephants are carried in a ceremonial procession.
St Mary’s Orthodox Church or Kottayam Cheriyapalli is a 5 century-old church. It is an important center for Syrian Christians in Kerala. Constructed in the Portuguese and European style, the church also has structures that remind of the traditional Kerala architectural style. The walls of the shrine consist of intricate stone carvings. The altar many mural paintings of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. A small piece of clothing of Saint Mary is kept in the holy place with great reverence. The tranquil atmosphere and the history of the church entice the tourists visiting Kerala.