Kerala is known for its panoramic backwater stretches, lush green paddy fields, highlands and beaches. A major backwater stretch lies in Kottayam district, where a network of rivers and canals empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. Located at Kumarakom 16 km from Kottayam town, the Vembanad Lake, an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, offers boating, fishing and sight seeing experiences that are truly exhilarating.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls :
Pay a visit to the picturesque Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls Located 18km from Kottayam town, 2 km down a mud lane from Kumarakom is this beautiful picnic spot where streams tinkle as they make their way through the landscape and waters roar as they cascade down the mountains from a height of 100 ft. Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat fromhere.
This 10 acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water madeway for the land to rise from below. The island can be accessed only by boat. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.
Kottayam is an ancient town famous for its churches, especially the 700 years-old churches, the Cheria palli ('small church') with exceptionally lovely paintings over the altar and the Valia palli('Big Church') perched on a picturesque hillock over a small cluster of houses. In the St.Mary's Church Kuravilangad built in 355 AD there is an old bell which bears a hitherto undeciphered inscription.
The mortal remains of the blessed Alphonsa and the Blessed Father Chavara are entombed at the St.Mary's Church at Bharananganam and the St.Joseph's Monastery Church at Mannanam respectively. Thousands gather at these holy shrines during festive occasions. Pala town and Kanjirappally, nourished by the Meenachil and Manimala rivers respectively are centers of rubber plantations. The Ettumanoor Shiva Temple 12 km north of town, has exceptionally beautiful wall paintings and sculptures inside the temple. In the heart of Kottayam town is the much venerated Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple.
This is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus and Muslims. Sree Dharmasastha Temple here is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Pilgrims going to Sabarimala alight here.
Aranmula - Pathanamthitta :
50km from Kottayam, Aranmula is the site of the splendid Onam festival boat races, usually in early September. These races unlike the more sporting Nehru Trophy race at Alappuzha in August are essentially religious, based on a temple festival. Caparisoned elephants with beaded umbrellas, processions of decorated floats, and highly ornate boats make this a lovely event to witness. Aranmula is also the centre of bell metal mirror crafts.
Vagamon, 64 km from Kottayam and 34 km from Pala, situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level is a trekker's paradise. It is an ideal tourist spot surrounded by the greenery of tea gardens, beautiful meadows and valleys. Other attractions: Thangal Para, Indo-Swiss project, Kurisumala Ashram.
Elaveezha Poonchira :
Elaveezha Poonchira is yet another picnic spot accessible from Pala and located in the midst of beautiful hills.
40km from Kottayam, famous for the Shiva Temple. The festival in November-December, last for 12 days and the 'Panchavadyam' is an important musical performance