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  • Vennimala - The hill of victory

    Vennimala, a stone's thrown away from the bustling Kottayam Town is the serene and beautiful hill top destination, Vennimala is located nearly 15 km from the Kottayam town and can be assessed easily through the Kottayam- Kumili road.
    The major attractions at Vennimala are its age old Lord Sreerama and Lekshmana temple. It is believed that Lord Rama as well as Lakshmana came to this spot during their exile. Cheraman Perumal illustrated emperor of ancient Kerala consecrated this temple and stayed in this place. The temple celebrates twenty Eight days of annual festival every year. The place also was the residence of Tekkumkoor dynasty. Vennimala is covered by lush green vegetation and rubber plantations.
    There were numerous big and small fresh water ponds this hill.  Even today there are nearly a dozen well preserved ponds scattered in the area that have sparkling fresh water even in the hottest summer. Another major attraction here is a huge cave on one side of the hill, half a km from the temple. It is believed that this cave, runs for over a kilometer to the temple premises, though it has been closed by fallen rocks.

    Matrumala is located in Kooropada village and is about 8 km from Vennimala. The place can be accessed from Kottayam through Pampadi. Matrumala is a hill top that offers stunning views of the entire surroundings. The place got its name as it has a small temple on its top dedicated to Goddess. The temple is believed to have been built by Parasurama, the legendary creator of Kerala who installed idols of the seven Goddesses (Saptamathas) here. A muddy winding road leads to the hill top that can be approached by either vehicle or on foot.

    This quaint little village is located about 20 km northwest of Kottayam town. The place can be easily accessed from Kottayam by road as well as rail.Kallara and the neighboring villages of Kaduthuruthy and  Thalayolaparambu has unending stretches of lush green paddy fields crisscrossed by numerous canals that drain into the backwaters of Ezhumanturuth and fall into the mighty Vembanad lake. In ancient days, large barge like country boats transported goods from Alapuzha to Thalayolaparambu and Kaduthuruthy through these intricate networks of waterways. The waterways also connect Kallara with Vaikom in  the north and to Kumarakom in the south.

    Scenic stretches in the village include Ayamkudi, Kapikkad, Mundar,Pulithuruth, Erunthuruth, Pazhampetti, Ponnurukkumparaand Karikkal. There are ancient temples and churches scattered in the village. The backwaters of Ezhumanthuruth have many attractive small islands in them.
    The unique attraction here is the concentration of screw pine product making in this little village. Locally called 'tazha'  the screw pine plants grow in abundance on the side of canals and waterways. The shaft of this plant is plucked, cut and seasoned. These are later woven into an array of beautiful and colorful products. Screw pine Products range from table mats, purse, file holders, mirrors, chapels, waste box, cushions, hats, kitchen pouches, decoration items etc. Kallara also produces bamboo products, rubber wood items and wood products.
    Very soon Kallara will be a model tourism village, where the tourists can experience the art and process of screw pine product development and other such rural products enjoying scenic vistas stay units in this village.

    Alapra - Tradition and Tranquility
    A little known hamlet, tucked away in the south east corner of district. Alapra is surrounded by lush forests. Alapra is located 45 km from Kottayam. It is located 5 km from Manimala Junction and 10 km from the well known pilgrim destination of Erumeli. The serene forest, pretty cascades, small streams, rocks offering stunning views add symphony to this village. The unique feature of Alapra is the small temple in the forest. The Thacharickal Bhagavathi temple is the only place in Kottayam district where the folk art of Padayani is performed.
    a) Padayani Festival at Alapra: Alapra is the only place in Kottayam district where padayani is performed. Padayani festival at Alapra is performed in Thacharickal Bhagavathi temple. Another  unique features here is that the temple is located in serene surroundings and is in the middle of forest. The annual padayani performance in Alapra falls in the month of March / April.

    b) Ponthanpuzha Forest: Alapra is scenic place with forests all around. There is 2500 acre forest called Ponthanpuzha Kutti vanam in the vicinity. This forest spreads over the districts of Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. The forest harbors deer,  wild boar, fox, pythons, other small creatures and a variety of avifauna.  There are nearly twenty small streams in the forest.

    c) Waterfalls: The forest has innumerable small and pretty cascades which are in full flow, during monsoon. The Sankhupatalam waterfalls nearly 4km from Alapra is the biggest of them. There is also another major watertfalls called Kalluvapuzha  inside the forest.

    d) OottuparaView Point: The forest also has ancient Oottupara, a big rock inside the forest. The rock can be reached by trekking from the temple for three km. it is believed that Lord Rama visited this place and conducted a feast for saints at this place during his exile. The rock top offers stunning views for miles round. Behind this oottupara, there is a similar rock face also.

    e) Caves and Muniyaras: The forest has many small caves, muniyaras and kallaras. There are three kallaras (burial place of pre historic men) near Poochapara and caves at Kanjirampara in the vicinity.

    f) Manimala River: River Manimala is an important water way of Central Travancore. Rising in the hills of Kottayam- Idukki ranges, the river flows through the midland plains and joins with Pampa and Manimala Junction. The river offers a beautiful view at this spot and flows swiftly striking against the many rocks in the river.

    Ramapuram, a beautiful and quite village is located 15km from Pala town on the main road to Koothattukulam. Ramapuram has carved its own niche in the cultural history of Kerala. This small village was the birth place of Ramapurathu Warrier, the profounder of Vanchipattu. It was here where Lalithambika Anthrajanam the renowned Malayalam novelist lived.  Ramapuram also is blessed with its old church and its famous missionaries-paramekkal Thoma Kathanar and Daivadasan Thevarparambil Kunjachan.

    Temples: The word 'Ramapuram' means 'the abode of Lord Rama'. True to its name the village has its Chief deity Lord Sreerama. Ramapuram is unique in the sense that it houses the temples of Rama as well as his three brothers in its vicinity in a radius of just three kms- Lord Bharata at Amanakara, Lakshmana at Kedapuiam and Sathrughna at Methiri.

    Natural Splendors
    Kurinji Koomban- Located 5 km from Ramapuram is this circular hill which has abundant caves. Nearby this hill is the Vellamneekipara waterfalls. There is motorable road to foot hills and is an adventurer’s paradise.
    Kuruvankunnu- Located 5km from Ramapuram it is situated to the east of Kurinji koomban. The place has water available even in summers. The place is prone to avalanches.

    Mayiladumpara- Located in Nedumala there are two huge rocks at this site spread over 4-5 acres.
    Parunthanmala- It is the highest point in the region called Kozhimala located 4km west of Ramapuram through rubber estates.
    Fathimagiri-This is lesser in height but is a serene place and is an excellent picnic spot.

    Kudamaloor -  Heritage Heartland
    If you want to experience the true typical Kerala rural ambience come to Kudamaloor. This ancient village just a stone’s throw away from Kottayam town as well as Kumarakom was the citadel ancient Kerala culture. Located on the banks of river Meenachil, Kudamaloor was the headquarters of the Chembakasseri Kings and was one among the sixty four villages of Kerala.

    The Valiyamadom Nalukettu stands in the locality where the old palace of the kings once stood. This residence is today inhabited by the royal family. The village has a number of old nalukettus and mansions that survive even to this day. A part of the remains of the fort of the kings still stands near Eraveeswaram Temple in the village. The holes where canons were fixed in the wall and the raised platforms can be seen even today in this fort wall. The Kings had a fleet of naval vessels - the chundan valloms which were anchored at Kottakadavu near the palace.

    Kudamaloor was a cradle of traditional Kerala art and architecture. The village has given birth to great Kathakali artists like Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair. This hamlet still houses a number of artists well versed in Kerrida art forms and folklore. The village has performers of sopanasangeetham, Kalamezhuthu and pattu, mudiyattom, kalaripayattu etc. Devivilasam  Kathakali yogam and Sopanam Kalavedi and research centre are two centers that promote Kathakali and other art forms. Moreover, Kudamaloor lies in Aymanam panchayath that was the theme village of Arundhathi Roy's 'God of Small Things'.
    The village is a land of temples - over ten in number. The Vasudevapuram Temple here has numerous mural paintings. Temples here are known for unique performances like tiyattu, Garudan parava and thookam.  The religious harmony of this village is personified by the 800 year old St. Mary's church that was built by the Hindu King. The ritual offering here is a traditional water bag and rope used to draw water from the well.

    As you travel form Vaikom to Ernakulam by road you pass three bridges in succession. As you look out, you are greeted by lush green scenery on either side. It is the river Muvattupuzha and its numerous branches that drain into the Vembanad Lake at this spot creating picture post card scenery all round. And this village is called Ithipuzha.

    Here there is little tourism. There are few houseboats, no resorts and hence charming and serene waterways all round the village. The various distributaries of the river create numerous beautiful islands in its course. Here there are endless stretches of coconut palms and vast green paddy fields. You can relax yourself on a country canoe ride - floating on the gentle ripples of the rivers and watching the fishermen carrying their catch in small canoes. lthipuzha can easily be accessed from Kochi.

    Pallam Backwaters
    Pallam is located 5km to the south of Kottayam town and is accessible via the Main Central Road. The setting is typical Kerala rural with quiet villages escorted by scenic backwaters and vivid green all along. Migratory birds come seeking this verdant landscape every summer and frolic in the natural splendors till the end of the season. A boat ride in this river Kodoorar to Kumarakom via Pallom backwaters is a great way to relax and enjoy nature's bounties.
    Another unique feature hem is the old light house put up at this site in 1813 A.D. by the British resident of Travancore, Col. Munroe. Considered as a wonder of architecture, the light house still stands intact facing the placid backwaters providing an excellent view of the lush green paddy fields and swaying coconut palm.

    Aruvikuzhy Waterfalls
    Located amidst shady rubber plantations, streams tinkle as they make their way through the rugged landscape and roars down cascading from a height of hundred feet. This beautiful picnic spot is located at Pallickathodu 25 km from Kottayam town and hence easily accessible.

    This is one of the highest waterfalls in Kerala gushing down from a height of 235 feet. Aruvikachal is located in Poonjar Thekkekara village and can be accessed from Erattupetta. The waterfalls can be approached by walking a couple of kilometers from Patampuzha junction. Adivaram, Ummikunnu, Puliyallu, Muttanallu, Parayambalam etc. are some of the scenic spots scattered around Aruvikachal. The 3500 ft high Mutukoramala offers spectacular views. The Poonjar Palace is also noteworthy.

    This scenic stream and its breathtaking waterfalls are together referred to as the enchantress of the jungle. Sliding down numerous hillocks from a height of 200 ft, the gushing water has etched out over the years a twelve metre deep pond in the rocks and joins the Teekoy river way down. And right under the waterfalls is a natural bridge.Marmala waterfalls lie a few kilometers away from Erattupetta and it is exactly seven km from Teekoy rubber estate. From here a private vehicle can take you further two km after which the road is not motorable. To reach the falls one has to trek through the estate over the rocky path.

    Elaveezhapoonchira - Walk in the rain clouds

    Skirting the Kottayam district are beautiful valleys of Elaveezhalpoonchira, spread over thousands of acres in Melukavu village. The pristine beauty of nature is preserved almost intact here in the imposing mountain ranges with rocky cliffs. The verdant landscape is punctuated by five gigantic hills viz. Vindhyan medu, Hidumbanmedu Mankallumudi, Kolanimudi and Mukalanthumudi each rising to around 3200 ft. Elaveezhapoonchira means valley where leaves don't fall and is named so because the place has no trees. Perhaps this may be the only spot in Kerala from where one can see the beautiful phenomenon of sunrise and sunset in the same spot. The vast horizon gives a panoramic view of the surrounding five districts. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils another beautiful slice of nature. The panoramic view of the Malankara dam just below the hill is an exquisite site for the visitors.

    Attractions in Poonchira: The different elevations of the mountain ranges with contrasting shapes give this hill station a dramatic and distinctive outline of great scenic splendor. Just below the hill, there is a small perennial pond like water body called Elaveezhapoonchira. Three tribal settlements and four natural caves provide significance to this mystic land. The great Pandavas were said to have lived incognito in this land during their exile and hence these caves are called "Pandavart Guha!'. Another peculiar feature is the presence of two Muniyanas nearby the pond. Lusitrourt growth of medicinal plants gives another added attraction to this area. Another exotic feature is the Nilayara which is a cave located in Mukalanthanmudi, one kilometer from the Poonchira. The cave itself is a wonder as far as a tourist is concerned. About 20 people can stand at a time inside the cave. A small perennial stream is flowing from the inner mouth of the cave.

    Kannadipara: As the name suggests, the valley of this rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror like perfection. This is also the highest point in Elaveezhapoonchira. Three km from here is the Pazhakakanam Plateau nourished by the Kadapuzha River. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place exotic. An added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfalls that playfully cascade down the mountain and greet the river below with a magnificent splash. On the eastern side of Kannadipara is a natural fort set admidst steep rocks.

    Mankallu Mudikal: The three hills in this region lie close to each other, their flat hilltops covered with lush grasslands. An aerial view of these resembles a traditional clay oven. With no trees around, the hilltops give you the feeling that you are walking in the clouds.
    Kalani Mudi: This peak in the Elaveezhapoonchira mountain range also, has a cave.

    Illickal Mala
    Numerous mountain streams in this Peak, 6000 ft. above sea level, flow down to form the serene Meenachil River. The solitude, the tranquility, the gentle breeze and the star spangled sky here are all enchanting beyond words. Tourists have to trek up three km to reach the top of the hill. And if you so wish, you could even spend the night on the heights.

    Illickal Kallu: Three hills, each rising to 4000 ft. and above, together form this huge hill. Each of the hills has a peculiar shape. One of them resemble a mushroom owing to which it gets its name Kuda Kallu (umbrella shaped rock). It is said that the medicinal herb Neela Koduveli, which bathes the hillsides in blue, grows here. This flower is also believed to possess supernatural powers which could increase wealth and ensure a rich harvest.
    The second hill has a small hunch on the sides and is therefore referred to as Koonu Kallu (hunch back rock) which is located 4000ft above sealevel. Across this rock is a 1/2 ft. wide bridge called Narakapalam (bridge to hell). From the hilltops, the Arabian Sea can be seen in the distant horizon as a thin blue line. The sunset on a full moon day is sensational, when the moon can be seen rising up like another sun, as the orange sun goes down.

    Kayyoor - Nadukani
    It is an enchanting landscape formed by a chain of green hills at the Bharananganam panchayat on way to Erattupetta and Ayyampara. A shrine dedicated to the Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharatha is found here in six acres. There is also a temple of Lord Sankara Narayana. As in the famous temple at Sabarimala, only ghee is used to light the lamps here. Women are not permitted inside the temple. Kayyur hill and Tevaka. hill was the wandering place of legendary ‘Kulapurathu Bhiman'.Another major picnic spot in the region is Nadukani. The hill has a vast rocky terrain with grasslands. As the name signifies one can see the entire surroundings from this hilltop.

    The winding road from Teekoy to Vagamon offers mind boggling scenic vistas. Vagamon located on the fringes of Kottayam District is an upcoming hill station. On the way to Vagamon is the beautiful spot called Kottathavalam.The Pandya king of Madurai and his family camped at this location on his way to Poonjar. The place was surrounded by hills on three sides like a fort and hence this place got its name Kottathavalam. Kottathavalam has huge caves which remains still unexplored as well as a ten acre reserve forest without wild beasts.The rocks carved in the cave like chairs and couches and figures of Gods sculpted on them are all worth exploring. The Kurathikallu, Karantakakallu and Kattil para nearby are other major attractions. Nearby Kottathavalam are Vazhikkadvau and the famous Kurishumala Asram.

    Vazhikkadavu: On the outskirts of the district is Vazhikkadavu, a land of rocky terrains sought after for its pristine nature. On one side of the main rock are extremely tall and steep rocks and on the other is a valley of fearful depth. Bordering this crude landscape like a silver lace is the Meenachil River.
    Kurisumala: Three km from Vazhikkadavu is this renowned Christian pilgrim centre where hundreds of devotees from far and near converge during the holy week and after, to climb the hill in faith, carrying small wooden crosses. The peaceful Monastery at the top of the hill, the silence of the hills, the cool mountain air and the lush green landscape are all soothing to the soul. On the eastern side of the hill is Muruganmala housing a rock cut temple dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Shiva). The mausoleum of Sheikh Fariduddin at Thangalppara makes this place a famous Muslim pilgrim centre also.

    This quaint hamlet situated in the Western Ghats is located 5km north of Mundakkayam in Kottayam District. The majesty of the mountain ranges combined with the beauty of the forest and the artificial lake created by the check-dam of the Manimala River makes the spot linger in your mind. Amruthameda, famous for medicinal plants is nearby. Kootickal is located only 12km from the pilgrim centre of Erumeli.

    Waterfalls at Melaruvi: The waterfall at Vadakkemala near Kootickal is another attraction. The natural reservoirs and waterfalls at Melaruvithodu near Kanjirappalli is yet another charming picnic spot in the vicinity.

    Karimbukayam - Meloram: This quaint spot on the Manimala River that flows between the Kanjirapally and Erumeli panchayaths is much sought after for its natural splendor.

    Maniyamkunnu: It is located near Ponkunnam in Elikulam Panchayath. The majestic mountains here that slope down to meet the beautiful valleys below are truly spellbinding.

    Situated seven km from the Mundakkayam - Kuttikanam stretch on the K.K. Road lies Panchalimedu, at an altitude of 2500 ft above sea level. A three hour trek from Valliankavu which is connected by bus from Kottayam takes you to the spot. Valliankavu, a tiny village 10km East of Mundakkayam itself is worth a visit for it is the site of the famous temple of Mala Araya community. According to the legends, the Pandavas stayed here and the pond beside a small temple is where Panchali is said to have bathed........