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Kottayam is a city in the state of Kerala in southern India, located at 9.36 N and 76.17 E. It is the administrative headquarters of Kottayam District. In 1989, Kottayam became the first town in India to achieve 100% literacy. Contents
History
By one theory, Kottayam literally means the interior of a fort - Kotta + Akam. Rulers of Munjanad and Thekkumkur had their headquarters at Thazhathangadi in the present Kottayam town. Marthanda Varma of Travancore attacked Thekkumkur and destroyed the palace and the Thaliyil Fort. The remnants of the palaces and forts are still seen here.
Kottayam District was a part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Earlier, the Travancore state consisted of two revenue divisions viz. the southern and northern divisions, each under the administrative control of a 'Diwan Peshkar'. In 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. The fifth division Devikulam came next, but was added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin (Kochi) in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan peshkars gave way to District Collectors, paving the way for the birth of the Kottayam District in July 1949.
 
 
Kottayam has played its role in all the political agitations of modern times. The 'Malayali Memorial ' agitation is said to have its origin in Kottayam. The 'Malayali Memorial' sought to secure better representation for educated Travancoreans in the Travancore civil service. The Memorial, which was presented to the Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal (1891) was drafted at a public meeting held in the Kottayam Public Library. The event marked the beginning of the modern political movement in the State.
Vaikom, a taluk of Kottayam district is famous for the Vaikom Satyagraham (1924-25), an epic struggle for eradication of untouchability. Scheduled castes and other backward classes in Travancore were denied entry into temples and access to temple roads. National leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and E.V. Ramswami Naykar associated with this struggle.
The 'Nivarthana' agitation of the early thirties, to secure adequate representation for the non-caste Hindus, Christians and Muslims in the State Legislature, enjoyed considerable support from this district
The district was also a centre of the agitation led by the State Congress for responsible Government in Travancore. The agitation had a triumphant end, with the overthrow of Sir. CP Ramaswami Iyer, the Dewan of Travancore.
 
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Tourism
Kottayam has a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake, part of the interconnected Kerala Backwaters that run virtually the length of the state. Vembanad Lake is 83.72km. in length and 14.48km in width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams are now modified into cruise/house boats. A small island called Pathiramanal (Midnight Sands, accessible only by boat) in the Vembanad lake is a major tourist attraction.
In the festive months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam are turned into festival centres. The serene lakes come alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races where oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. In the Kumarakom boat race conducted at Kavanar and Kottathodu rivers, about 50 types of boats including veppu, ody and churulan boats participate.
Thekkady (Periyar Tiger Reserve) is 104 km (3-4 hours by bus/car)away from Kottayam in Idukki District. Kottayam is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor,Thirunakkara Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcaud, Athirampuzha, kuravilangadu and kidangoor so on. Kottayam town is linked by rail and waterways. There is a helipad near the Kottayam collectorate. The nearest airport is 85 Km away at Kochi (Nedumbassery).
Kottayam is the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City
 
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Attractions
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KUMARAKOM
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Kumarakom gained national and international importance with the visit of the Hon'ble Prime minister A.B. Vajpayee in 2000 December.
Kumarakom is a small village 14km. 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 Ha of which 2413Ha is lake portion, 1500Ha is paddy fields and the remaining portion of 1253 Ha is dry land. Kumarakom is an unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interpersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies.
Situated on the Vembanad Lake, this small water world has plenty of traditional country boats, crafts and canoes which will take you in to the heart of scenic Kerala. Situated on the Vembanad Lake, this small water world has plenty of traditional country boats, crafts and canoes which will take you in to the heart of scenic Kerala. The resorts near by offer comfortable accomodation and exclusive leisure options like Ayurvedic massages, Yoga and meditation besides boating, fishing, angling and swimming.
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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 bungalow of Baker has now been modified into the Taj Garden Retreat, a hotel with modern living facilities. The Kerala State Tourism Development Corporation is converting this place into a Tourist Complex. K.T.D.C. has constructed A.C. Cottages here and it runs a floating restaurant. The Corporation also provides boating facilities. Coconut lagoon is a beautiful resort here.
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VEMBANAD LAKE
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Kottayam has a vast nertwork of rivers and canals, which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake, a fast developing backwater 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, sit outs 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 Vemabanad Lake is accessible only by boat.
Boat Races
In the festive months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam are turned into festival centres. The serene lakes come alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. In the Kumarakom
boat race conducted at Kavanar and Kottathodu rivers, about 50 types of boats viz veppu, ody, churulan and few snake boats participate.
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BIRD SANCTUARY
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An attraction of Kumarakom is the Bird sanctuary spreading over 14 acres of land. Located on the banks of the Vembanad 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 varieties like the wood pecker, sky lark, crane and parrots can also be spotted here. 91 Species of local 50 species of migratory birds are found here. The best time to bird watch is June-August and migratory birds during November-February. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.
House Boats and motorboats are available on hire for bird watching cruises in the Lake
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ELAVEEZHAPOONCHIRA
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Elaveezha poonchira, a hill station near Melukavu Mattom, 60kms from Kottayam is gaining tourist importance. Located among three beautiful hillocks Mankunnu, Kudayathoormala and Thonippara, Poonchira is a place of picturesque charm. Legends say that the pool here was a bathing place for Panchali the legendary heroine of Mahabharata. The D.T.P.C. is developing this place into a trekking spot. A tourist bungalow with rooms and dormitory to accommodate 15 people has been constructed. The beautiful valleys of Poonchira are spread across thousands of acres. The verdant landscape punctuated by the gigantic hills, each rising to around 3200 ft. is an ideal place to unwind. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils yet another beautiful slice of nature. Elaveezha poonchira means valley where leaves don't fall and is named so because the place has no trees. This is also one of the best places in Kerala to witness both the sun rise and sunset
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POONJAR PALACE
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The Poonjar Palace in Meenachil taluk is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. With the palace walls, is an extra ordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palanquin, a thoni carved out of a single piece of wood for ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel 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 purposes. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple.
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 stonewalls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rocks cut lamps are rare in India.
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WAGAMON
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Situated 64kms from Kottayam, this enchanting hill station at an elevation of 1100 metres above sea level is a trekkerís 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.
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INDUSTRY
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Although it lacks heavy industrial units, a number of small and medium scale industrial units are based in Kottayam. The main industries are publishing (newspapers and books) and those based on cash crops like latex (rubber). There are 14 large and medium scale industries functioning in the district. Of these, one is in the central public sector, two each in the state public sector and co-operative sector. The only central public sector undertaking is the Hindustan News Print Limited at Velloor in Vaikom taluk, engaged in the production of newsprint. Travancore Cements Limited at Nattakom is the major state public sector undertaking in the district which manufactures white cement.

The coir industry in the district is more or less confined to Vaikom taluk. There are 27 coir co-operatives and 20,000 workers in the district. In the handloom sector, there are eight co-operative societies which provide employment to 2100 persons. In 1998, there were 151 Industrial co-operatives in the district of which 63 women, 18 SC and 4 ST. The district has a rich forest wealth with good availability of softwood and other varieties of timber. As a result, many industries like plywood, packing cases, splints and veneers, furniture etc., are thriving. The only public limited Information Technology company in Kottayam is ipsr solutions ltd. based at ML Road.
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PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
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The first printing press in Kerala (C.M.S Press) was established here in 1821 by Rev.Benjamin Baily, a British missionary. The first Malayalam-English and English-Malayalam dictionaries were published from Kottayam in 1846 and 1847 respectively. The first and only cooperative society of writers, authors and publishers -- Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham, or SPCS was set up here in 1945.

Kottayam is the hometown of a vast number of books and periodicals and is the center of publishing business in the state. Publishing houses DC Books, V Publishers and Vidhyarthimitram are based in Kottayam. The city hosts a number of book exhibitions every year. The biggest selling news papers in Malayalam including Malayala Manorama, Deepika , Mathrubhumi , Desabhimani and Mangalam, are based in Kottayam. Malayala Manorama and Deepika are among the earliest newspapers to have been established in India that are still in circulation. Malayala Manorama is one of the largest selling newspapers in India.
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RUBBER (Latex) INDUSTRY
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Kottayam is a major trading centre for rubber and rubber-based products. Kerala accounts for 90% of the rubber (latex) production in India, major part being the contribution of Kottayam. The district is also the headquarters for the Rubber Board. The increasing output in rubber production and the advent of modern processing techniques have resulted in the establishment of rubber-based industrial units like latex and crepe rubber diversifying into items such as M.C. sheets, foot wear etc. A common facility service centre, training centre and field testing laboratory for rubber - plastic industries has set up at Changanassery and a central government production cum training centre at Ettumanoor. Rubco opened a new factory at Pampady in 2001. Other rubber based industries in the district include MRF Pvt Ltd (Madras Rubber Factory) in Vadavathoor, Midas Rubber Pvt Ltd (Ettumanoor) and Intermix factory (Neezhoor).
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EDUCATION
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Old Seminary of the Malankara Orthodox Church situated in Chungam, Kottayam is the first institution to start English education in South India. C.M.S High School (which later became C.M.S College High School) was founded by the British missionary Rev. Benjamin Bailey. The first college in the State (C.M.S College) was started at Kottayam in 1840.

Kottayam is a major center of education. Mahatma Gandhi University, one of the six universities in Kerala is located here. Other prominent educational institutions located in Kottayam include C.M.S College (the first college in kerala), Baselius College, B.C.M College and K.E College. Medical College, Kottayam one of the government medical colleges, is located at Gandhinagar close to Kottayam.[School of Indian Legal Thoughts] one of the law colleges, is located at the Suryakaladi Hills Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology , the government engineering college named after former prime minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi is situated in Pampady.There are also a number of other engineering colleges situated in the district.

The Technical Higher Secondary School and College of Applied Science managed by IHRD is situated in Puthuppally Kottayam.
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RELIGION
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Like the rest of Kerala, Hindus, Christians and Muslims all form a significant part of the population.Kottayam is the rail stop for pilgrims heading to the Hindu holy site of Sabarimala. The temple is located around 110 km from Kottayam, in the district of Panachikkadu templeone of the famous Saraswathy temples in Kerala is located 12 km from Kottayam town. The Siva temple at Thirunakkara is in the heart of Kottayam town. The sanctum-sanctorum is covered with pictures from the epics. Three festivals are celebrated here in Thulam (October-November) Mithunam (June-July) and Meenam (March-April). The Aaraattu, conducted on the last day of the Meenam festival can be called the "festival of Kottayam".

Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, Thirunakkara Srikrishna temple, Pallipurathukavu Devi Temple, Kidangoor Subramanyaswamy Temple, Vaikom Mahadevar temple and Thiruvayamkudy Mahadeva temple in ayamkudy are other famous Hindu temples.

Kottayam has its own rich Christian tradition.The Malankara Orthodox Church (Indian Orthodox Church), under His Holiness Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I, is administered from Devalokam, Kottayam. This ancient church of Saint Thomas Christians traces its origin to AD 52,the year when Apostle St.Thomas arrived in India.

Four Roman Catholic dioceses are based in the district. The Knanaya Catholic Dioceses of Kottayam is based in the Kottayam town. On February 8, 1986 Pope John Paul II visited Kottayam to beatify Blessed Chavara (church in Mannanam), along with Blessed Alphonsa (church in Bharananganam).

The headquarters of the Knanaya Jacobite church is based in Chingavanam a suburb of Kottayam.

A number of old Christian churches are also located in Kottayam. Old Seminary, a prominent teaching institution for religions belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church and a seminaryfor aspiring priests for Syrian Christians in Kerala, is also located in Chungam, Kottayam. The Cheria Pally('small church') an ancient Church belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church is well preserved with wall murals painted using vegetable dyes. The Valia Palli ('big church') has Persian inscriptions and a stone cross. Both the churches belong to the Knanaya Jacobite Church.

St Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Manarcadu is another important Christian church in Kottayam. St Mary's Forona church kuravilangadu is one of the ancient churches in kerala.
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