20 Things To Do In Kottayam

Things To Do In Kottayam

Kottayam, a picturesque town in Kerala, is often referred to as the “Land of Letters, Lakes, and Latex.” Known for its rich cultural heritage, serene backwaters, and lush landscapes, Kottayam offers a plethora of activities for travelers. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or adventure seeker, there are countless things to do in Kottayam that cater to diverse interests. From exploring ancient temples and serene sanctuaries to experiencing traditional arts and savoring local cuisine, this guide will take you through the top attractions and experiences that make Kottayam a must-visit destination.

Things To Do In Kottayam

  1. Visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Nestled along the banks of Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a haven for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts. Spread over 14 acres, this sanctuary is home to a diverse array of bird species, including migratory birds from the Himalayas and Siberia. The best time to visit is between November and February when the sanctuary is bustling with life. You can spot species like the Siberian crane, egret, heron, and several species of kingfishers.

To explore the sanctuary, you can embark on a boat ride through the backwaters, which offers a unique perspective on the wildlife. Walking trails are also available for those who prefer to experience the sanctuary on foot. The lush greenery and tranquil waters make it a perfect spot for photography and birdwatching. Remember to bring your binoculars and a camera to capture the vibrant birdlife.

  1. Explore the Backwaters on a Houseboat

Kottayam’s backwaters offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. One of the best ways to experience this is by renting a traditional Kerala houseboat, known as a ‘kettuvallam’. These houseboats come equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay while you drift along the scenic waterways.

The journey through the backwaters provides breathtaking views of lush paddy fields, coconut groves, and local villages. You can observe the everyday life of the villagers, fishermen at work, and children playing by the water. Most houseboats offer freshly prepared meals with local ingredients, giving you a taste of authentic Kerala cuisine. Spending a night on a houseboat is an unforgettable experience, as the gentle sway of the water lulls you to sleep.

  1. Discover the History at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church

St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, also known as Kottayam Cheriapally, is one of the oldest churches in Kerala, with a history dating back to 1579. This architectural marvel showcases a blend of Portuguese and traditional Kerala styles, featuring intricate wooden carvings and murals.

The church is not only a place of worship but also a historical site that offers insights into the rich cultural heritage of Kottayam. The interior of the church is adorned with ancient paintings depicting biblical scenes and saints. The peaceful ambiance of the church grounds makes it an ideal place for quiet reflection and photography.

  1. Trek to Illikkal Kallu

For adventure seekers, a trek to Illikkal Kallu is a must. Located about 50 kilometers from Kottayam, Illikkal Kallu is a majestic rock formation perched at an altitude of 3,400 feet above sea level. The trek to the top is challenging but rewarding, offering panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

The trail is surrounded by lush greenery and is a haven for nature lovers. The final ascent to the rock requires careful navigation, but the sight from the top is worth the effort. On a clear day, you can see the Arabian Sea from the summit. It is advisable to start the trek early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and ensure a safe return before sunset.

  1. Experience Local Culture at Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple

The Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, located in the heart of Kottayam, is a significant cultural and religious landmark. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is known for its stunning architecture and vibrant festivals. The annual festival, Phalguna Utsavam, attracts thousands of devotees and tourists.

The temple complex is adorned with beautiful murals and carvings that depict scenes from Hindu mythology. The peaceful environment and the rhythmic chants create a spiritual atmosphere. Visiting the temple during the early morning or evening rituals provides a deeper understanding of the local traditions and customs.

  1. Enjoy a Relaxing Day at Vaikom Beach

Vaikom Beach, located near the town of Vaikom, offers a serene and less crowded alternative to the more popular beaches in Kerala. The golden sands and calm waters make it a perfect spot for a relaxing day by the sea. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.

Surrounded by coconut trees and lush greenery, Vaikom Beach is also a great place for a leisurely stroll. The nearby Vaikom Mahadeva Temple adds to the cultural experience, and you can combine a beach visit with a trip to this historic temple. The sunsets at Vaikom Beach are particularly stunning, providing excellent photo opportunities.

  1. Shop for Spices and Handicrafts at the Local Markets

Kottayam’s local markets are a treasure trove for shoppers looking for authentic Kerala spices and handicrafts. The main market area is bustling with vendors selling fresh produce, aromatic spices, and handmade goods. This is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs and gifts.

Spices like black pepper, cardamom, and cloves are popular buys. You can also find beautiful coir products, traditional Kerala sarees, and handcrafted jewelry. The vibrant atmosphere of the market, with its colorful displays and friendly vendors, makes shopping here a delightful experience.

  1. Visit the Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple

Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, located about 12 kilometers from Kottayam, is another significant Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Known for its exquisite murals and carvings, the temple attracts both devotees and art lovers. The annual festival, Ezharaponnana Ezhunallathu, is a grand event that features a procession of seven and a half golden elephants.

The temple’s gopuram (gateway tower) is an architectural marvel, and the inner sanctum houses a beautiful idol of Lord Shiva. The peaceful surroundings and the spiritual ambiance make it a perfect place for meditation and reflection. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the traditional rituals and ceremonies that take place here.

  1. Learn About Rubber Plantations at Muttukadu

Kottayam is known as the ‘Land of Letters, Latex, and Lakes’ due to its prominence in rubber production. A visit to the Muttukadu rubber plantations offers an educational and fascinating insight into the rubber industry. You can learn about the process of tapping rubber trees and see how rubber is collected and processed.

Guided tours are available, and they provide detailed information about the history and significance of rubber cultivation in the region. The plantations are surrounded by scenic landscapes, making it a pleasant and informative experience. This is an excellent opportunity for students and curious travelers to learn about one of Kerala’s key industries.

  1. Relax at Aruvikuzhy Waterfalls

Aruvikuzhy Waterfalls, located about 18 kilometers from Kottayam, is a picturesque destination perfect for a day trip. The cascading waterfalls, surrounded by rubber plantations and dense forests, offer a tranquil escape into nature. The falls are best visited during the monsoon season when the water flow is at its peak.

The area around the waterfalls is ideal for picnics and leisurely walks. There are also several viewpoints that offer stunning views of the falls and the surrounding landscape. The serene ambiance and the soothing sound of the waterfalls make it a great spot for relaxation and photography.

  1. Explore the Heritage at Poonjar Palace

Poonjar Palace, located in the Poonjar dynasty’s ancestral town, is a remarkable site for history enthusiasts. This centuries-old palace showcases the rich cultural heritage and architectural grandeur of Kerala. The palace houses a fascinating collection of antiques, including royal furniture, sculptures, and various artifacts that depict the opulence of a bygone era.

A unique feature of the palace is its extensive library with ancient manuscripts and texts. The intricate carvings and the traditional Kerala architecture make the palace a must-visit. Guided tours are available, offering in-depth insights into the history and significance of the Poonjar dynasty.

  1. Trek to Marmala Waterfalls

For those who love adventure and nature, trekking to Marmala Waterfalls is an exhilarating experience. Located near Erattupetta, Marmala Waterfalls is often referred to as the ‘enchanted paradise’ due to its secluded and pristine surroundings. The trek to the falls takes you through dense forests and rubber plantations, providing a refreshing escape from urban life.

The waterfall cascades from a height of about 60 meters into a deep pool, making it an ideal spot for a cool dip. The journey and the destination offer ample opportunities for photography and nature observation. It’s advisable to wear comfortable trekking shoes and carry sufficient water and snacks.

  1. Visit the Thazhathangady Juma Masjid

Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, one of the oldest mosques in India, is a stunning example of traditional Kerala architecture. Located on the banks of the Meenachil River, this mosque is known for its intricate wooden carvings and serene ambiance. The mosque’s history dates back over a thousand years, making it a significant cultural landmark.

The prayer hall, with its beautiful woodwork and ornate designs, reflects the architectural prowess of the time. Visitors are welcome to explore the mosque’s premises and learn about its historical significance. However, it’s important to dress modestly and respect the sanctity of the place.

  1. Discover the Splendor of Vagamon

A visit to Vagamon, located around 64 kilometers from Kottayam, offers a delightful experience of rolling meadows, lush green hills, and cool climate. Known as the ‘Scotland of Asia,’ Vagamon is a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Activities such as paragliding, trekking, and rock climbing are available for thrill-seekers.

Vagamon’s serene landscapes also make it perfect for leisurely walks and picnics. The Pine Forests, Thangal Para, and the Vagamon Meadows are some of the must-visit spots. The enchanting beauty of Vagamon ensures a refreshing and rejuvenating experience for all visitors.

  1. Enjoy a Cultural Evening at Kottayam Thirunakkara Cultural Centre

For a deeper understanding of Kerala’s vibrant culture, spending an evening at the Kottayam Thirunakkara Cultural Centre is highly recommended. The centre regularly hosts traditional dance and music performances, including Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, and classical music concerts.

These performances provide a glimpse into the rich artistic traditions of Kerala. The colourful costumes, expressive dance forms, and soulful music are sure to captivate the audience. Attending a cultural evening here is a great way to appreciate the local art and support the artists.

  1. Visit the Tomb of Saint Alphonsa

Saint Alphonsa’s Tomb, located in Bharananganam, is a revered pilgrimage site for Christians. Saint Alphonsa, the first woman of Indian origin to be canonized as a saint, spent her life dedicated to serving others. Her tomb, situated in the St. Mary’s Forane Church, is a place of peace and reflection.

Pilgrims and visitors come from all over to pay their respects and seek blessings. The church complex is beautifully maintained, with serene gardens and a quiet atmosphere. Visiting this site offers a chance to learn about Saint Alphonsa’s life and legacy.

  1. Experience Traditional Ayurvedic Healing

Kottayam is home to several renowned Ayurvedic centers that offer traditional healing therapies and treatments. Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine, focuses on holistic wellness and natural healing. Visiting an Ayurvedic center in Kottayam allows you to experience therapies like Panchakarma, Abhyanga (oil massage), and various detox treatments.

These treatments are designed to rejuvenate the body and mind, providing relief from stress and various ailments. Many centers offer personalized treatment plans based on individual health conditions. Incorporating an Ayurvedic session into your visit can enhance your overall travel experience, leaving you refreshed and revitalized.

  1. Visit the Kottathavalam Cave

Kottathavalam Cave, located near Kurisumala, is a fascinating spot for history buffs and adventure seekers. This ancient cave is believed to have been a resting place for the royal family of Madurai during their travels. The cave’s interior features carvings and sculptures depicting various Hindu deities and scenes from mythology.

The hike to the cave is relatively easy and offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape. Exploring the cave provides a sense of mystery and adventure, coupled with historical insights. It’s a great place to visit for those interested in archaeology and history.

  1. Enjoy a Boating Trip on Meenachil River

The Meenachil River, flowing through the heart of Kottayam, offers a peaceful boating experience. Renting a canoe or a small boat allows you to explore the river at your own pace. The calm waters and the lush greenery along the riverbanks create a soothing environment.

Boating on the Meenachil River provides an opportunity to observe local wildlife and bird species. The river is also significant for its mention in Arundhati Roy’s acclaimed novel “The God of Small Things.” A leisurely boat ride here is perfect for those looking to unwind and connect with nature.

  1. Attend a Kathakali Performance

Kathakali, the traditional dance-drama of Kerala, is a mesmerizing art form that combines dance, music, and acting. Attending a Kathakali performance in Kottayam offers an unforgettable cultural experience. The elaborate costumes, dramatic makeup, and expressive gestures of the performers bring ancient stories to life.

Many cultural centers and temples in Kottayam host regular Kathakali performances. Watching this art form not only entertains but also educates viewers about the rich cultural heritage of Kerala. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in traditional Indian arts and culture.


Kottayam is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. With its blend of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and vibrant culture, there’s no shortage of things to do in Kottayam. Whether you find yourself mesmerized by the tranquil backwaters, enthralled by the ancient temples, or rejuvenated by traditional Ayurvedic treatments, Kottayam promises a memorable journey. This charming town offers something for everyone, ensuring that your visit is filled with unforgettable moments and enriching experiences. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the wonders of Kottayam, where every corner has a story to tell and a sight to behold.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *