Akshara Nagari

—  city  —
Seematti Roundabout, Kottayam
Location of Kottayam
in Kerala and India
Coordinates 9°35′N 76°31′E / 9.58°N 76.52°E / 9.58; 76.52Coordinates: 9°35′N 76°31′E / 9.58°N 76.52°E / 9.58; 76.52
Country India
State Kerala
District(s) Kottayam
Municipal Chairman Sunny Kalloor


60,725 (2001)

28 /km2 (73 /sq mi)

Sex ratio 0.975 male(s)/female(s) /
Literacy 100%% 
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)


2,208 square kilometres (853 sq mi)

3 metres (9.8 ft)

Website kottayam.nic.in

Kottayam (Malayalam: കോട്ടയം) is a city in the Indian state of Kerala, spread over an area of 55.40 km2. It is the administrative capital of the Kottayam district. Kottayam (pop. 1,72,878 according to the 2001 census)[1] is located in south-central Kerala and is approximately 150 km (93.2 mi) from the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.

The town is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber. Major Kerala print media such as Malayala Manorama, Deepika and Mangalam are headquartered in the city. Also a pioneering center of modern education in Kerala, the city became India's first municipality to achieve 100% literacy in 1989 and the district became the first tobacco free district in India on September 28, 2008.[2] The city of Kottayam is also known as "Akshara Nagari (അക്ഷര നഗരി) (City of Alphabets) in honor of its contributions to print media and literature. Kottayam is the 7th largest city in Kerala, after Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kollam, and Kannur



It is believed that the name "Kottayam" is derrived from the [Malayalam / Tamil] words "kotta" (fort) and "akam" (inside), and can be roughly translated as "the interior of the fort".


The Rajas of the independent little kingdom of Thekkumkoor ruled Kottayam from Thazhathangady till the mid-18th century. Later, Marthanda Varma, who was king of Travancore annexed Thekkumcore and the surrounding areas of Kottayam to the Kingdom of Travancore. During the British rule of India, Kottayam continued to be ruled under the Princely State of Travancore.

Earlier, the state of Travancore consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a 'Diwan Peshkar' for each. Later in 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. A fifth division, Devikulam existed for a short period but was then added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to District Collectors. Thus,in July 1949 Kottayam came into being as a district. Later it became a part of the state of Kerala, and the headquarters of the district bearing the same name when the state was formed in 1957.

The citizens of Kottayam played an important in the early social struggles in Kerala. In 1891, a protest movement known as the 'Malayali Memorial Agitation', was started in order to seek better representation for Travancoreans,in comparison to ed to outsiders, in the Travancore civil services sector. It is believed to have started in Kottayam. This movement had a major influence on the beginnings of modern political movements of Kerala[citation needed]. Kottayam played a major role during the 'Nivarthana struggle' in the 1930s which aimed at the representation of Hindus of the lower castes, Christians and Muslims in the Travancore Legislature. The Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 against untouchability, led by Mahatma Gandhi, took place in Vaikom near Kottayam. It was the first systematically organized agitation in Kerala against orthodoxy to secure the rights of the depressed classes.

Geography and climate

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) photographed in Vembanad Lake, Kottayam
Early morning in Kottayam

Kottayam has an average elevation of 3 metres (9  feet) from sea level. Kottayam town is situated in the basin of the Meenachil River and in the basin of the Vembanad backwaters which is formed from several streams in the Western Ghats in Idukki district. It flows through Kottayam district and joins Vembanad lake. According to the division of places in Kerala based on altitudes, Kottayam is classified as being a midland area.The general soil type is alluvial soil. The vegetation is mainly tropical evergreen and moist deciduous type.

The climate in this District is moderate and pleasant. Kottayam's proximity to the equator results in little seasonal temperature variation, with moderate to high levels of humidity. Annual temperatures range between 20 to 35 °C (68 to 95 °F). From June through September, the south-west monsoon brings in heavy rains as Kottayam lies on the windward side of the Western Ghats. From October to December, Kottayam receives light rain from the northwest monsoon. The average annual rainfall is 3600 mm.

Kottayam is bordered by Pathanamthitta district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west, Ernakulam district on the north and Idukki district on the east.

Location in Google Maps: [1]


Autorickshaw in a road in Kottayam. They are a major form of hired transport as in the rest of India
Shasthri Road

Road & Bus

Kottayam lies on the National Highway 220 (NH 220) connecting Kollam and Theni.

The NH220 connects Kottayam to the state of Tamil Nadu and the tourist destinations of Thekkady and Kuttikanam, as well as the agricultural towns of Kanjirapally and Mundakayam.

State Highways SH1 or Main Central (MC) road, SH11, SH13, SH14, SH15 and SH32 pass through Kottayam.

The major port city of Kochi (70 kilometres (43 mi)) can be reached by the Changanassery-Alappuzha road and also via Ettumanoor and Kumarakom.

Public transport in the town is largely dependent on buses, run by both private operators and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). There are three bus stations serving Kottayam, two of which cater to private buses and one exclusively for KSRTC buses. The bigger of the two private bus stations, is located at Nagampadam, close to the railway station and the other is located in the heart of the town. Besides local bus services for traveling within the town, Kottayam is well-connected to the rest of Kerala through inter-state bus services run by KSRTC. Hired forms of transport include metered taxis and auto-rickshaws.


Kottayam (KTYM) railway station is situated in the heart of the city and is under the administration of the Southern Railway.

Kottayam lies on the busy rail route between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam and is served by several long distance trains connecting most major cities in the country like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru Kolkata and Chennai.


The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, 90 km to the north. Another airport, Trivandrum International Airport lies 170 km to the south in Thiruvananthapuram.

Ferry & Port

Kottayam Port, India's first multi-modal ICD and a minor port using inland water way, is situated at Nattakom (near Kodimatha), on the banks of Kodoor river.

The Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) operates ferry services through the backwaters in and around Kottayam city. Ferries are a major mode of transport to the town connect to the tourist destination of Kumarakom and Alappuzha town,as well as several smaller destinations. There are two major ferry jetties in the city - Town Jetty and Kodimatha Jetty. In recent years, the boat jetty at Kumarakom has acquired international fame as a launch point for the backwater rides on Vembanad lake, which has virtually become a poster image for tourism in Kerala.

Aerial View of the southern entrance of Kottayam Town


As of 2001 India census,[3] Kottayam Urban Agglomeration had a population of 1,72,878 , while Kottayam district had a population of 19,52,901. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. It is one of the very few places which witnessed a negative population growth from 1991 to 2001.[citation needed]

Kottayam District is ranked 1st in Literacy with a percentage of 95.9 compared to 90.92% for Kerala State and 65.38% for India (2001 census). It is ranked 10th in population as well as in area among the districts in Kerala. This District has the lowest decadal population growth rates of 6.76% compared to 9.42% for Kerala.


Kottayam is a major trading center of natural rubber in India. Rubber trees are extensively cultivated in central Kerala,on plantations, both large and small especially in vast areas of Kottayam District, . The Rubber Board, a body set up by the Government of India for the development of the rubber industry, is located at Kottayam. A number of small and medium sized enterprises in and around the town are engaged in the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Besides rubber, Kottayam is a trading place of other commercial crops like spices cultivated widely in the surrounding areas. The Plantation Corporation of Kerala also has its headquarters at Kottayam.

Rubber Tree

Kottayam is also known as a business centre. The stretch of Kottayam–Kumily Road (KK road) that passes through the town is a major shopping centre. Sastri Road, one of the broadest roads in kottayam is also popular for shopping and has outlets of many national and international product brands. Baker Junction and Kanjikuzhy are also considered as commercial and residential hubs of the town. Kottayam district has industries like Hindustan Newsprint Limited, Kottayam Spinning Mills and KSE factory.

Tourism is a major contributor to the economy as many tourism related businesses thrive in the town. Kumarakom, a popular tourist destination in Kerala, is located 14 km from the town. Wagamon, another tourist destination is located on the borders of the districts of Kottayam and Idukki.

Kottayam is known for religious tourism. St. Alphonsa, the first woman to be canonized as a saint by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church was born and raised in Kottayam.[4]

Proposed Kottayam Municipal Corporation


There is a demand to upgrade Kottayam Municipality to a Municipal Corporation.

The proposed Kottayam Municipal Corporation comprises:

Total Area: Around 180 km2

Total Population (1991 Census): 308,958

Culture, literature and sports

Kottayam has a place of honor on the cultural map of Kerala. The culture of Kottayam is influenced mainly by the large presence of the Syrian Christian community. The cuisine of Kottayam is the same as rest of Kerala, but with a distinct Syrian Christian influence seen in the use of cocunut and spices, as well as beef, pork and sea food Keralite Cuisine.

Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali and martial arts like Parichamuttukali, are popular among the Syrian Christian community. It is performed by men and women separately. In the past, it was performed during Syrian Christian weddings. Arjuna Nritham, also known as Mayilpeeli Thookkam is a popular dance form performed by men. Besides these, other South Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom, and Kuchipudi and classical Carnatic music are also practiced by a large number of young people.

The Public Library in Kottayam is located at Sastri Road, which is a frequent happening place with art exhibitions.

Kottayam has produced many well-known writers, journalists and artists. Muttathu Varkey, a novelist and Pala Narayanan Nair, a poet, both have their footing in Kottayam. Kottayam Pushpanath, a writer of crime thrillers lives in Kottayam. The famous Indian-English novelist Arundhati Roy is a native of Kottayam and her semi-autobiographical Booker prize winning novel, The God of Small Things contains her childhood experiences in Aymanam, Kottayam.

Cricket, basketball and football are among the most popular sports in Kottayam. Kottayam is also famous for athletics, as the place has produced several athletes who represented India in various international tournaments.Nehru stadium, which is Kottayam's main stadium is located at the entrance of the town. A number of popular basketball tournaments including the Marian Trophy, Girideepam Trophy, Lourdes Trophy and Virginia Memorial Tournament are conducted every year.

A municipal park is located by Sastri road. There are also restaurants that cater to Kerala, Tamil and Northern cuisines. Kumarakom, the major backwater tourism destination on the outskirts of the city has several luxury hotels and resorts including ones from reputed hotel chains like Taj, Zuri & Casino.

There are several movie halls which screen Malayalam, English, Tamil and Hindi movies. Kottayam have 5 theaters where movies are released periodically. They are Abhilash, Anupama, Anaswara, Anand and Asha. Most of these theaters lie close to the K.S.R.T.C bus stand apart from Anaswara which is closer towards Thirunakkara bus stand (Private Bus Stand).

Religious institutions

Reflecting the religious constitution of the population, a large number of Hindu temples and Christian churches dot the townscape. Some of them are the Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple & Kumaranalloor Devi temple(5 KM towards North Direction) two churches known as Valiya Palli and Manarcad Palli (Manarcad church) and the Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid.

Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, situated in the banks of river Meenachil,in Kummanam, is one of the oldest mosques in India and is more than 1000 years old, famous for its architectural beauty, and richness in wood carvings. This mosque was constructed by the followers of the Islamic prophet Muhammad during one of their first voyages to Kerala.

Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple, at the heart of the town, is a Shiva temple built in the Kerala style of temple architecture, with interior murals depicting themes from the Hindu epics. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by the then Raja of Thekkumkur. The annual temple festival that culminates in a ceremony called the Aaraattu, attracts large number of devotees. The other famous temples include the Ettumanoor and Vaikom temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and a temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi at Panachikkad(also known as Dakshina-Mookaambika). All these temples are rich in lore and festivities and attract a large number of pilgrims from all over the country. Kumaranalloor Devi temple, located near the banks of Meenachil River is famous for its cultural heritage. The sreekovil is beautifully illustrated with Mural Paintings. Karthika, the birth star of Devi is celebrated in the ninth day of the 10 Day long temple festival attracts lot of pilgrims from all over the country. Kumaranallor and nearby place Kudamaloor is also famous in the name of artists. Great Kathakali artists like Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair, Kuroor Vasudevan Nampoothiry (Vesham), Mathoor Govindankutty, Kuroor Cheriya Vasudevan Nampoothiry (Chenda), famous flute maestro Kudamaloor Janardhanan etc to name a few.

Kottayam is a major center for Syrian Christians in Kerala. St. Mary's Church, the Valia Palli (the Big Church) was built in 1550 by Knanaya Syrian Christians who immigrated from West Asia,and is considered the first Christian church in Kottayam town. This church is famous for its two Persian crosses made of granite. There are rare antique carvings and mural paintings behind the main altar and on the ceiling of the church. Another St. Mary's Church known as Cheria Palli (the Little Church), belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church was built in 1579 by the Raja of Thekkumkur for his Christian subjects. These churches feature temple architectural influences. The interior murals, painted using vegetable dyes, depict Biblical themes.

St. George's Edacatt church is also an ancient church, established in 1822. It belongs to the Knanaya Catholic Archdiocese. This was the Catholic Cathedral of Kottayam from 1887 to 1896 and from 1911 to 1944. This church houses the mortal remains of the Servant of God Mar Mathew Makil and is a pilgrimage centre.

However, the most famous Christian church in the district of Kottayam is St. Mary's Cathedral in Manarcad (Manarkad Palli). It is known for its celebration of the ancient practice of the 8 Day Lent and the Feast of Virgin Mary's Birth between September 1 and 8 every year. During the days of the lent, hundreds of thousands of people from the far corners of the world reach Manarcad to seek the blessings of Virgin Mary. Manarcad cathedral is one of the most important churches among the ancient churches of Malankara. It has stone inscriptions which were found to be memorial stones from tombs set up in 910 A.D. and 920 A.D. and this indicates that the church is almost a 1000 years old.[5]

The Syro-Malabar rite of the Catholic Church has an archeparchy based in Kottayam. Some of the important Catholic churches in Kottayam include Christ the King Cathedral of Kottayam Archdiocese, Lourdes Forane Church, Good Shepherd Church and Vimalagiri Cathedral. Pope John Paul II visited Kottayam, during his visit to India in 1986. In Kottayam he announced the beatification of Father Kuriakose of Chavara and Sister Alphonsa, who hail from Kottayam district. The mortal remains of Saint Alphonsa, who was elevated to sainthood in 12 October 2008, are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary's Church, Bharananganam. It is a popular Christian pilgrimage center.


Kottayam is considered as the nerve center of Malayalam literature and publishing media. Unnuneeli Sandesam, a beautiful and a famous work of poetry, is supposed to have been written by one of the Rajas of Vadakkumkur. In 1821, Benjamin Bailey, a British missionary, established C.M.S. Press, the first printing press in Kerala, in Kottayam. The town has been in the forefront of newspaper and book publishing in the state ever since.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Malayalam literature was enriched by the works of Christian missionaries. Varthamana Pusthakam (1778), written by Parammekkal Thoma Kathanar on a visit to Rome, is the first travelogue in Malayalam. The first Malayalam English dictionary and Malayalam dictionary were published in Kottayam in the years 1846 and 1865 respectively. The first autobiography in Malayalam by Vaikom Pachu Moothathu was published in Kottayam in 1870. The first Malayalam Bible was also published in Kottayam.[citation needed]

Jnananikshepam was the first newspaper published by the natives of Kerala, and it was brought out from CMS press at Kottayam in 1848.[6] Nasrani Deepika was started in 1887 by the Carmelities of Mary Immaculate (CMI) missionaries at Mannanam near Kottayam. The newspaper still continues to be published under the name Deepika and is a leading Malayalam daily. Malayala Manorama, India's largest circulating regional daily,[citation needed] was founded here by K.C. Mammen Mapila in 1890. The part played by newspapers published from Kottayam, like Malayala Manorama, Deepika and Bhashaposhini, a literary magazine from Malayala Manorama Group in the cultural and literary development of Kerala is immense.

Today, six major Malayalam newspapers – Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhoomi, Deshabhimani, Deepika, Madhyamam and Mangalam – and around thirty periodicals are published from Kottayam. Kottayam is also home to several book publishers in Malayalam such as D. C. Books, Labour India Publications and Current Books. Almost 70 percent of books published in Kerala are from Kottayam.[7] In 1945, a group of writers set up Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangam, which stands for 'Literary Workers' Co-operative Society' in Malayalam. It was the first co-operative enterprise of writers, novelists and poets.

Education and Research

Kottayam Medical college hospital is one of the major hospitals in Kerala

The Orthodox Pazhaya Seminary of the Malankara Orthodox Church was the first institution to start English education in Southern India. C.M.S High School, (now Church Missionary Society College High School), was founded by the British missionary, Benjamin Bailey of the Church Mission Society of London. C.M.S College, the first college in Kerala, was started in Kottayam in 1817 by the Church Missionary Society. The Baker Memorial Girls High School in Kottayam, founded by Amalia Dorothea Baker in 1820, is one of the oldest girls' schools in India.

Mahatma Gandhi University, one of six universities in Kerala, is located at Kottayam. Medical College, Kottayam is located about 10 km from the town. There are a number of Arts & Science Colleges, including C.M.S. College Kottayam,K.G.College pampady, BCM College etc. There are government engineering colleges, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam,Kidangoor engineering college are some near the town, self financed engineering colleges are also there in kottayam such as St.Joseph's College of Engineering & Technology,Palai. Amal Jyothi College of Engineering,Kanjirappally. Saintgits college of engineering and technology, Mangalam college of engineering and technology, are some of the main colleges in the district. Polytechnic colleges such as Model Polytechnic College,Mattakkara, Govt.Polytechnic College,Nattakom and several Nursing schools/Colleges are located in and around the town.

Other institutes include the Centre for rural management (CRM), Kottayam (a leading autonomous research organizations for rural development), Central Research Institute for Homoeopathy, KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Rubber Research Institute of India, proposed Indian Institute of Information Technology and the proposed Indian Institute of Mass Communication.

Hospitals and health care

Apart from the Medical College, there is one District Hospital and one District T.B. Centre. There is also one Children's Hospital, four Taluk Hospitals, six Community Health Centres, 11 Block Health Centres, 51 Primary Health Centres and seven Government Hospitals under the Health Department.[8] Most of the modern treatment facilities are available both in the government and private sectors. A disease surveillance programme has been undertaken in the district.


Vimalagiri Cathedral

Various sections of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism co-exist harmoniously. The Nairs, Namboothiris, Ezhavas, Viswakarmas and the Scheduled Class & Tribes constitute the major sections of the Hindu religion. Kottayam is the headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

St. Alphonsa, the first saint of India hails from Kottayam. She born on 19 August 1910 at Kudamaloor and died on 28 July 1946 at Bharananganam. St Mary's church Kudamaloor where she was baptized and the church of Bharananganam where she is buried are pilgrim centers of large interest among the Catholics.


The Kottayam assembly constituency is part of the Kottayam (Lok Sabha constituency).[9]

The district has 09 Assembly constituencies - Kottayam, Changanassery, Pala, Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy, Kanjirappally, Puthuppally, Poonjar and Vaikom. The only Parliamentary constituency with in the district is Kottayam. Kanjirapplly and Poonjar Assembly constituencies are included in Pathanamthitta Parliamentary constituency and Changanassery included in Mavelikkara Parliamentary constituency.

Administratively, Kottayam district consists of two Revenue divisions - Kottayam and Pala - each under the control of a Revenue Divisional Officer. There are five taluks -Kottayam, Changanassery, Vaikom, Meenachil and Kanjirappally.[10]

See also


External links


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