KOTTAYAM PILGRIM CENTRES
The chief ecclesiastical dignity of the orthodox syrian Church, the Catholics of the East, has his headquarters in Devalokam Aramana at Muttambalam in Kottayam. The Bishops of the Knanaya Catholic Church, Latin Catholic Church and the Church of South India have their head quarters in Kottayam. The Arch Bishop of Changanassery who follows the Syro- Malabar rites, has his headquarters in Changanassery. The Bishops of Knanaya Jacobite and the Church Mission Society have their head quarters at Chingavanam and Kurichy respectively.
BharananganamSt.Mary's church also known as Anakkallu Palli is an important pilgrim centre in the district. The mortal remains of the Blessed Sister Alphonsa who died on 28th July 1946 is kept here. Thousands of devotees gathered at this holy shrine on 28th July every year to pray on her death anniversary. Bharananganam is five kms. from Pala.
MannanamSt.Joseph's church was built by the Blessed Fr. Chavara Kuriakose Elias. The mortal remains of this saintly priest is preserved here. Thousands of devotees gather here to pay homage to the saint every day.
PuthuppallySt. George's Orthodox church is located at the Centre of the famous temples of Vennimala, Kadamuri, Iravinellor and Vazhakkulam. This church is believed to have been built by the Thekkumkoor Raja's when they ruled Vennimala. The feast of St.George (Geevarghese) in May is the annual event which attracts a large crowd. The golden cross in this Church is well known.
ManarcadSt.Mary's church is one of the most important Churches of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christians. The Ettunoympu (eight day fasting) is the main annual event which begins on the first of September every year. The feast falls on eighth and nineth of September. Pilgrims participating in the retreat stay in the Church these days fasting and praying . The church has a tank and a cross which are considered sacred.
AruvithuraSt. George church is one of the oldest Churches in Kerala. Believed to be one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas, this is also one of the Churches in Kerala which collects the largest amount of monetary offerings during the festival days. The reconstruction of this church was done in the 16th Century A.D. The annual feast is celebrated on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th of April.
Vimalagirichurch (Angathattu Palli) situated near Kottayam railway station is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Vijayapuram. The foundation stone of the Church was laid in 1956 and the construction was completed in 1964. This church built in the Gothic architectural style has a 172 feet tower which is considered as the highest Church tower in Kerala. Vimalambika is the deity here. The feast is celebrated in December.
ValiyapalliSt. George's church situated at Thazhathangadi, two kms. west of Kottayam town. Built in 1550 A.D. This church belongs to Kananya Orthodox Syrian community. The Persian cross made of stone, believed to be one of the seven brought here by St. Thomas and the Pallavi inscriptions of this church are famous. The feast of St. George is on 26th April.
CheriyapalliSt. Mary's church is situated two kms. from Kottayam town. Built in 1579 by the Thekkumkoor Maharaja. This Church displays out standing architecture which is a blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals in the oriental and western styles on biblical and non biblical themes.
Good Shepherd churchsituated behind the Civil Station at Kottayam. This is the first Church of the Diocese of Vijayapuram. The construction of this church, which is in Italian style, was completed in 1882 and was renovated in 1964. The feast of St. Sebastian is on 20th January and that of Good Shepherd is from 10th to 12th April.
AthirampuzhaSt. Mary's church is situated 10 kms. north of Kottayam town. Though dedicated to Mother Mary, it is the feast of St. Sebastian which attracts a large crowd. The statue of St.Sebastian installed here, is considered very ancient. During the days of the Portuguese, three figures were brought to Kerala. Legend says that the smallest of them has brought to Athirampuzha by local traders. This is known as'Adiyelpicha Roopam' (the tortured figure). The original church, is said, was constructed in 1680 A.D. The feast in January lasts for five days. Display of fire works in connection with the celebration is most attractive.
Valiyapalli-Palais situated about 39 kms.from Kottayam town. It is generally accepted that this St.Thomas Church was built in 1002. The church was destoryed by the muslim invaders in the 17th century and was reconstructed in the next century. The important festival of this church is the Rakkulithirunal which is celebrated on 6th January every year.
Kuravilangad The Moonnunombu and the ship made of wood at the ancient St. Mary's church here is famous. The Kappalottam during the second day of nombu attracts thousands of devotees.
At Erumeli,there is a famous mosque in the name of Vavar, a friend of Lord Ayyappa. The Chandanakkudam festival is celebrated here in January every year. This coincides with the Makaravilakku of Sabarimala. At night, there is an attractive procession with caparisoned elephants and panchavadyam. This is an important festival which exudes the spirit of Hindu-muslim unity.
Changanasserythere are two famous mosques; Pazhayapalli and Puthiyapalli. The Pazhaya palli is said to be more than 1000 years old and it is constructed at the site which was donated by a King of Thekkumkur. The annual festival Thangal Adiyanthiram is well known and is marked by a grand community feast. Meat and two tones of rice offered by the devotees are used to prepare biriyani for the community feast at this day. A Bhagavathy temple and a Catholic Church are situated in the vicinity of this mosque, bearing the testimony to the religious unity of the people there. The Puthiyapalli is about 400 years old. The Chandanakkudam festival is celebrated by the followers of different religions.
ErattupettaThe mosque is famous. Here also, the Chandanakkudam festival is celebrated every year. The procession attracts the people of the locality as a whole.
ThazhathangadiThe Juma masjid at Thazhathangadi, on the banks of the Meenachil river is one of the oldest mosque in India. It is believed that Malik Dinar had built this mosque about 1000 years ago. The artistic value of this mosque is of special interest to the tourists.
Kottayam is a district known for its religious harmony. There are over 50 temples, 70 churches and a number of mosques including one 1000 years old. Besides, Kottayam is also the gate way to the piligrim centres of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy, Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcad, Aruvithura and Athirampuzha.
Erumeli is the biggest piligrim center in the district.There is an ancient temple where Sri Dharma Sasta is the presiding deity. There is also an ancient mosque dedicated to Vavar, who is considered to be the friend of Lord Ayyappa. During Mandala and Makaravilakku seasons in December and January respectively, lakhs of piligrims arrive here on their way to Sabarimala. Erumeli is famous for Pettathullal. Before the devotees start Pettathullal they offer prayers at the mosque of Vavar. Thus Erumeli portrays a spiritual picture of Hindu-Muslim harmony.
VaikomAssociated with the legendary Parasurama, Vaikom Siva temple is a typical example of the Kerala style of temple architecture. More popular as the Kasi of the South, this temple is famous for its elephant pageants and traditional art performances. Here two Ashtami festivals are held annually one in Kumbhom (Februvary- March) and the other in Vrischikam (November-December) of which the latter is more famous. The celebrations last for 12 days and end with an Arat at the Subrahmania temple at Udayanapuram, on the day after Astami. Panchavadyam is an attractive item of the festival .Prathal is the main Vazhipadu here. Vadakkupurathupattu being held in every 12 years attracts many devotees. There is a school for teaching temple arts - Kshethra Kalapeedom -attached to the temple.
EttumanoorThe Siva temple here is famous for its murals, especially the paintings of Nataraja in the Gopuram and the golden elephants- Ezharaponnana. The elephants, seven large ones and a small one, are well known. Though actually eight in number, these are only considered as seven and a half. These were presented to the Lord by Sri Karthika Thirunal, Maharaja of Travancore. The Ezharaponnana Ezhunnallathu festival here is in Kumbhom (Februvary- March). On the eighth day of the festival, the golden elephants are taken out of the temple in a procession, which attracts thousands of devotees.
PanachikkadSaraswathy (Goddess of learning and the arts) temple at Panachikkad near vakathanam Njaliyakuzhy, also known as Mookambika of the South, is famous for Saraswathy pooja in the month of Thulam (October-November). On the day of Durgashtami, the Poojaveppu is performed with books arranged in a decorated room and all sorts of study and work are given up for the day. The Mahanavami day is devoted to the worship of Saraswathy, the Vijayadasami day is observed as the day of the conclusion of the Pooja (Poojaeduppu). On that day thousands of children are initiated into the world of letters at the Vidyarambom held here.
ThirunakkaraIn the heart of Kottayam town is this 500 years old Siva temple built by the Thekkumkoor Maharaja. This temple built in the Kerala style of architecture has colourful murals on its walls which are worth exploring. The Koothambalam, the special building in the temple premises used for cultural purposs, is one of the best in Kerala. Three festivals are celebrated here-in Thulam (Octobetr- November).
AdithyapuramThe Sun temple here is dedicated to Adithya, the Sun of God. The first and last sundays of the Zodiacs Scropio (November-December) and Aries (April-May) are considered auspicious.
PallippurathukavuSituated in the southern part of Kottayam town, this temple is devoted to Devi. The Kumbhakuda Mahotsavam here attracts large crowd. It is held on the day of Pathamudayam (10th day of the month of Medam). The Garudan Thukkam at night is also famous.
ThiruvarppuSituated six kms. away from Kottayam town, this temple is devoted to Lord Krishna.Offerings start as early as 3 o' clock in the morning. The festival here, is in the month of April which lasts for 10 days. The Vilakkeduppu ie, carrying lamps by virgin girls during the festival is famous. Thiruvarppu is also famous for Usha (Payasam) which is the main Vazhipadu.
KidangoorTwenty three kms. northeast of Kottayam, the Subrahmaniya Swamy temple here attracts a large crowd of worshippers on the day of Shasti every month. In Kumbhom (Februvary- March) a 10 day long festival is celebrated here. The Chakkiarkooth performed here is a speciality.
Situated about 20 kms. south of Kottayam town, this is also one of the famous Subrhamanya temples. The festival in Dhanu which lasts for 10 days .Hundreds of worshippers especially ladies attend the Shashti here.