Bordered by the Western Ghats and the emerald Vembanad Lake, Kottayam is one of the most beautiful destinations in Kerala. There are various adorable places in Kottayam. Well-known for its scenic backwaters, picturesque hills, old world charm, interesting sights, churches, temples, and stunning beauty, Kottayam must be included on a holiday in Kerala.
Once a part of the ancient Kulasekhara Empire, from 1090 – 1102 AD, Kottayam had trade connections with both the Portuguese and the Dutch. In mid-18th century, the region came under the rule of Marthanda Varma of Travancore and remained under the Princely State of Travancore.
From October to March, this part of heaven is thronged by visitors from all around the globe. Now that you are making plans for a holiday in Kottayam, we help you with the 12 must visit places in Kottayam:
1. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is one of Kottayam’s main tourist highlight. Spread over 14-hectares, the haven include numerous rare avian species, variety of migratory birds visiting from Himalayas to Siberia, making it one of the most popular bird watching spots in India.
The months of June to August are a delight to plan your trip, as it is the breeding season of the resident wetland birds. The migratory birds come visiting from October to February. The easily spotted birds include – Indian Darter, different species of egrets and herons, Little Cormorant, White Ibis, several species of kingfishers, waterfowl, cuckoo, owl,, Siberian Cranes, parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetles and more. Counted among the most visited places in Kottayam, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary offers amazing boating tours.
[Check-out other must visit bird sanctuaries in Kerala]
2. Mary’s Orthodox Church
Moving on with the list of the must visit places in Kottayam, next is St. Mary’s Orthodox Church. Built in 1597 in Cheriyapalli, it is one of the oldest churches in Kerala. With the arrival of traders from the Western world to the Indian shores, their religion followed and spread its roots on the Malabar Coast. The Orthodox Church is a testament of the olden days and has been carefully preserved till date.
St Mary’s church has a unique architectural style, based on a mixture of Persian and Kerala style, with galleries and pillars adorned with beautiful murals made in Oriental and Western style on biblical and non-biblical themes. Pay a visit, attend a mass, or you can attend festivities of the church’s feast held on December 15th every year.
3. Marmala Waterfalls
A picturesque sight, the Marmala waterfalls are definitely on the list of must visit places in Kottayam. About 60 meters in height, falling into a 12-meter deep pool the waterfall merges with the Meenachil River. Blessed by Mother Nature, Marmala is a feast for your senses.
The beauty of the waterfalls is the first thing you notice, but the thrilling adventure to get to the waterfalls is even more memorable. Jeeps travel through the narrow trodden paths or you can embark on trekking through the scenic trails. Spend a day at the waterfall and feel yourself amid the bliss of the melody of the falling water, call of birds, and nature all around.
[Also Read: 10 Gorgeous Waterfalls in Kerala]
4. Nattakom and Panachikkad
Named among the best offbeat places to visit in Kerala, Nattakom and Panachikkad are two of the must visit places in Kottayam. Surrounded by lush evergreen forests, crisscrossed by several beautiful streams, these villages serve as a respite from the chaos of cities. Famous for authentic Kerala’s Ayurvedic massages, scenic landscapes, migratory birds, beautiful reservoirs and recreational activities that including fishing, swimming, trekking, etc. Also, some of the best temples are based in these villages.
Take a break on your holiday in Kottayam and spend some time enjoying the pleasures of a simple village life.
5. Island of Pathiramanal
Nestled in the middle of the Vembanad Lake, the island of Pathiramanal is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kerala. Known as a birdwatcher’s paradise, the backwater island is inhabited by a variety of birds. The sanctuary is inhabited by more than 91 local species of birds and 50 migratory birds. The landscape of the islands are a diverse delight with lush farmlands, thick forests and paddy fields.
Very few places can rival the bliss of Pathiramanal. The easily spotted birds include Pintail Ducks, varieties of Heron, Kingfishers and Egret, Indian Shag, Cormorant, Common Teal, Darter, Bronze-winged Jacanas, Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Whiskered Tern among the many.
Accessible only by boat, the island of an ideal pit stop in the middle of a houseboat ride.
A scenic spot in the hills, Nadukani is one of the popular hill stations near Kottayam. Settled amid the blue Nilgiri Mountains, nurtured by the Muvattupuzha River, the town enjoys wonderful views of dense forests.
Listed among the must visit places in Kottayam, Nadukani is visited by honeymoon couples, adventure lovers as well as one in search of serenity. Enjoy the views, go for walk in the pristine nature. Offbeat and unexplored, Nadukani is a scenic getaway from Kottayam.
7. Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple is one of the famous temple in Kottayam. Nearly 500 years old, the shrine showcases the traditional Kerala architecture. Walls of the temple are decorated with murals featuring stories from the epics. The annual festival of Phalguna Utsavam is celebrated with great zeal and the fiesta lasts for 10 days.
8. Malliyoor Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple
The Malliyoor Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple is one of the coveted places to visit in Kottayam. The sacred place is the holy abode of all God and Goddess including Lord Ganesha. Lakhs of pilgrims come here every year to offer their prayers. The temple also houses a young Krishna seated on the lap of Ganesha. Devotees visit the holy place to attain solace from the evils of Kaliyuga and eternal salvation.
[You may also read: 8 Most Famous Temples in Kerala]
The list of most popular places to visit in Kottayam remains incomplete without a mention of Vaikom. Blessed with a variety of tourist attractions, the town is home to some of the most scenic backwaters of Kerala. Besides the natural splendor, there are a number of temples, important pilgrimage for Hindus. The Theekkan Kashi temple dedicated to lord Shiva is known as Southern Kashi, a The beauty and bliss is not juts outwardly, the town rose to fame during the Indian Independence movement where Mahatma Gandhi started Satygraha against untouchability. a
The soothing old world charm of Vaikom is loved by families on vacations, couples on honeymoon and even the solo backwaters in search of themselves. Go exploring the serenity of Vaikom, attend the Vaikom Ashtami celebrations are held. The simplistic bliss is beyond the capacity of words.
Kottathavalam is a popular hill station, 70 km from Kottayam. It is one of the places blessed with natural beauty in addition to exciting adventure activities. The scenic heave can be reached after a long drive through mountains enjoying picturesque scenery as well as a rush of adventure.
Your trip to Kottathavalam has a perfect mixture of attractions. The interesting landscape has a number of rock cut trails. Embark on one of them and you will experience bliss, exhilaration and a memory of a lifetime. A number of small and huge temples adorn the town. A fresh breath of air from cities, the charming hill town is one of the places to not miss on a holiday in Kottyam.
11. Poonjar Palace
Coming on to one of the must visit tourist attractions in Kottayam, Poonjar Palace is a heritage attraction. Boasting of royal elegance, the palace is a reminder of the days of royalty of the bygone era.
Explore the wooden structure that impresses all those who visit. Chcek out the royal antiques, exotic furniture, huge chandeliers, statues, weapons, varieties of lamps, sculpture of Nataraja, a droni (treatment bed) carved out of a single piece of wood for Ayurvedic massages, and many more.
The highlight of the palace is the recreation of Madurai Meenakshi Temple. Recreating the tales of the Puranas (ancient Indian legends) there are a number of ancient sculptures. Poonjar Palace is named among the most impressive historical sites in all of Kottayam.
12. Juma Masjid
One of the places that must not be missed in Kottayam, Juma Masjid is one of the most impressive historic architectures in Kerala. Built by the shores of Located on the banks of the Meenachil River, the wooden carved mosque is a beauty.
A merge of wonderful architecture and beautiful wooden carvings, the mosque reflects the influence of native Kerala architecture. Believed to be one amongst the oldest mosques in India, the grandeur beats those of palaces. Pay a visit and be in awe of the religious briefings, soothing ambiance and find your connection with the divine powers.