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Kottayam (in Malayalam:കോട്ടയം) is a city and a municipality in the Indian state of Kerala. An important trading center of commercial crops and a publishing centre in Kerala, Kottayam is also the administrative capital of Kottayam district. The town has been in the forefront of modern education in Kerala from the nineteenth century. In 1989 it achieved the distinction of being the first municipal town in India to achieve 100% literacy.
The name Kottayam is said to have come from 'Kotta Akam' in Malayalam, meaning 'inside the fort'. The Rajas of Thekkumkur, an independent little kingdom to which Kottayam area belonged, ruled their domain from a location in the present day Kottayam called Thazhathangadi. When, in the mid-18th century, Marthanda Varma of Travancore annexed Thekkumcore, Kottayam area, along with the areas of the rest of what is today's Kottayam District, became part of the Kingdom of Travancore (later to be the Princely State of Travancore under the British.) After Indian independence, Kottayam eventually became the headquarers of the present Kottayam District. The citizens of Kottayam had a role in some of the early social struggles in Kerala. A protest movement that took place in the 1891 called the 'Malayali Memorial agitation', seeking increased representation for Travancoreans in the Travancore civil service, as opposed to outsiders, is said to have started in Kottayam and may have been the beginning of modern political movement in Kerala. Kottayam also had an active role in the 'Nivarthana' struggle in the 1930s, which was a campaign seeking representation for Hindus of the lower castes, Christians and Muslims in the Travancore Legislature
Kottayam is located at 9.58° N 76.52° E.[1] It has an average elevation of 3 metres (9 feet).



Kumarakom is a small village 14 km.west of Kottayam. It is a part of Kuttanad, which is a 'wonder land' lying below sea level, comprising of a number of islands, in the back waters. Kumarakom Village covers an area of 5166 He. of which 2413 He. is lake portion, 1500 He is paddy fields and the remaining 1253 He. is dry land. Kumarakom is a paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interepersed with enchanting water ways and canals adorned with white lillies. Situated on the Vembanad lake, this small water world has plenty of traditional country boats, crafts and canoes which will take you into the heart of scenic Kerala. The resorts near by offer comfortable accomdation and exclusive leisure options like Ayurvedic massages, Yoga and meditation besides boating, fishing, angling and swimming. In the last Century, Henry Baker, an English man, attracted by the beauty of the place, selected Kumarakom as his residence and built a bungalow, obtaining 104 acres of land from the then Maharaja of Travancore. He also made a beautiful garden. Preserving the old style, the beautiful bunglow of Baker has now been modified into the Taj Garden Retreat, a hotel with modern living facilities. The Kerala State Toursim Development Corporation is converting this place into a Tourist Complex. K.T.D.C. has constructed Cottages here and it runs a floating restaurant. Boating facilities are also provided by the Corporation. Coconut lagoon is a beautiful resort here.

Vembanad lake Kottayam has a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake, a fast developing back water tourism destination. Vembanad lake is having 83.72km. length and 14.48km. width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams are modified into cruise boats and house boats, with all basic facilities like kitchen, toilet, bathrooms, sitouts etc. These boats gracefully move around the back waters, providing facilities to tourist to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad lake in a relaxed pace. The Kumarakom tourist village offers house boat cruises and holiday packages. In the Vembanad lake there is a small beautiful island called Pathiramanal or the Midnight sands. This lonely island in the Vembanad Lake is accessible only by boat.
Bird sanctuary Another attraction of Kumarakom is the Bird Sanctuary spreading over 14 acres of land. Located on the banks of theVembanad lake, the sanctuary is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. Local birds like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl and water hen other common varities like the wood pecker, sky lark, crane and parrots can also be spotted here. 91 Species of local and 50 species of migratory birds are found here. Best time to bird watch is June-August and migratory birds during November- February. A cruise along the Vemband lake is best way to experience the sanctuary. House boats and motor boats are available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.
Poonjar palace The Poonjar palace in Meenachil taluk is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a by gone era.With the palace walls is an extra ordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palaquin, a thoni carved out of a single piece of wood for ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewels boxes, a variety of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (dancing Lord Siva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique couch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purpose. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple have sculptures with war fare stories from the Puranas (the legends of ancient India).However the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on the stone walls of the Sastha temple nearby. Such rock cut lamps are rare in India
Vaikom A picnic spot ideal for langourous break. Tourists can avail of various recreation options. Boat cruises are available on the Vaikom lake.
Wagamon Situated 64 kms. from Kottayam, this enchanting hill station at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level is a trekkers paradise. This enchanting hill station on the Idukki -Kottayam border dotted with tea gardens and meadows, will soon be one of India's foremost eco- tourism projects. The breeding centre of the Kerala Live Stock Board is located here