Kottayam

At a distance of 63 km from Kochi, 48 km from Alleppey, 155 km from Trivandrum, 142 km from Munnar and 240 km from Coimbatore, Kottayam is a city located in central Kerala and is also the administrative capital of Kottayam district. It is one of the well known Kerala places to visit. The city is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber.

Kottayam is bounded by Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake on the west. Kottayam is well known as a beautiful Kerala backwaters destination with stunning landscape and beauty. Kumarakom, the most famous backwater destination of Kerala is situated very close to Kottayam (13 km). It is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom,

Pathanamthitta

At a distance of 119 km from Kochi, 67 km from Alleppey, 62 km from Kottayam, 96 km from Tenkasi, 109 km from Trivandrum, 162 km from Tirunelveli, 197 km from Kanyakumari and 238 km from Madurai, Pathanamthitta is a beautiful town and the administrative capital of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala. Also known as the pilgrim capital of Kerala, Pathanamthitta is the main transport hub to the famous pilgrim center – Sabarimala and also one of the popular tourist places in Kerala.

It is situated in Central Travancore region of Kerala, close to the Western Ghats. Pathanamthitta town is located on the banks of Achankovil and three major rivers of Kerala – Achankovil, Pamba & Manimala flow through the district. Pathanamthitta is a combination of two words Pathanam and Thitta.

Sabarimala

Sabarimala is the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centre in Kerala and India. At a distance of 70 km from Pathanamthitta, this temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. It is one of the most visited pilgrim centers in the world with an estimated 45 – 50 million devotees every year. It is the most popular center of pilgrimage in Kerala state.

At a distance of 158 km from Kochi and 178 km from Trivandrum, this temple is one of the oldest temples in India, with history of more than 5000 years old. The temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappan here is situated in the midst of 18 hills, at an altitude of about 3000 feet. It is believed that Lord Parasurama installed the idol of Ayyappa at Sabarimala.

The pilgrimage season begins in the month of November and ends in January (the temple remains closed during rest of the year except for the first five days of each Malayalam month). The devotees following Ayyappa Vratam (Ayyappa Maala – a 41 days Vratam

Thrissur

At a distance of 81 km from Kochi, 55 km from Athirapally, 69 km from Palakkad, 113 km from Kozhikode, 114 km from Coimbatore, 279 km from Trivandrum and 280 km from Madurai, Thrissur (also known as Trichur) is a city situated in central Kerala. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Kerala and also a famous pilgrimage site in Kerala state. This is one of the ideal weekend getaways around Kochi & Coimbatore.

The name Thrissur was derived from Tiru-Shiva-Peru which literally means the big town of Lord Shiva. The name owes itself to the most prominent feature of the city that is the Vadakkunathan Temple, Shiva as its presiding deity. Thrissur is also known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala because of its cultural, spiritual and religious leanings throughout history.

Thrissur had witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties that include the Chera and Kulasekharas in the 12th

Anantha Padmanabha Temple (Near Trivandrum)

At a distance of about 2 kms from Trivandrum Central Railway Station, Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located in the Fort Area. The temple is one of the 108 Divyadesams of Lord Vishnu. The main deity is seen in reclining position over the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The temple depicts a blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture.

Padmanabha Kshetram and its properties were controlled by Ettuveetil Pillamar under the guidance of Ettara Yogam. Later, Marthanda Varma defeated the Pillamar and his cousins took over power. The temple was renovated majorly by King Marthanda Varma, Maharaja of Travancore in the mid of 17th century.

The temple has an impressive 100 feet gopuram. Only Hindus are permitted inside the temple. Men should remove clothes above waist, no pants for men or churidhar for women. Dhotis can be borrowed at the locker room for Rs. 15.

Guruvayoor (Near Thrissur)

At a distance of 27 Kms from Thrissur & 81 km from Kochi, Guruvayoor is well known for the most famous Sri Krishna Temple in South India. This is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Kerala & an ideal getaway from kochi.

Lord Sri Krishna can be seen in standing posture with four hands carrying Sankhu, Sudarshana Chakram, Lotus and Mace. A 33 meter tall gold-plated Dwajastambham is a special attraction. There is a 7 meter high ‘Deepastambham’ with thirteen circular containers, provides a wonderful site when lit.

The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are adorned with beautiful mural paintings and carvings. The temple is built in a typical Kerala temple architecture. Vishwakarma, the divine architect is said to have built the first temple here. On Malayalam New Year day, the first rays of Sun fall directly at the feet of Lord Krishna. The temple has a collection of 65 elephants, preserved at Anakotta, 3 Kms from the temple.

Mahadeva Temple - Ettumanoor (Near Kottayam)

At a distance of 11 Kms from Kottayam Railway Station, Mahadeva Temple located in Ettumanoor is one of the most celebrated Siva temples in Kerala. This is one of the popular tourist & pilgrimage sites to visit near Kottayam & Kochi.

This temple is known for its exceptional murals and woodcarvings made in 16th century. The themes of these murals are stills from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and the and Puranas.The oil lamp at the entrance of the temple is believed to have been lighted for more than 450 years and it is fed with oil by the devotees everyday. There are 14 decorative gopuras in the temple built in 16th century.

Another attraction of the temple is Ezhara Punnana (golden elephants) donated to the temple by Maharaja of Travancore. The golden elephants are kept on display during the temple annual festival celebrated in the month of February / March. Only Hindus are allowed into this temple.

Malayalapuzha Devi Temple (Near Pathanamthitta)

At a distance of 7 Kms from Pathanamthitta, Malayalappuzha Devi Temple dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali (another form of Goddess Parvati) is located in Malayalappuzha town near Pathanamthitta.

This temple is believed to be more than 3000 years old, constructed in Kerala style of architecture. The idol of Goddess Bhadrakali is about 5.5 feet tall. More than 100,000 devotees visit this temple every week, with Tuesday and Friday being the most popular days for darshan. The temple is under the administration of Travancore Devaswom Board. The temple has beautiful wall paintings and attractive sculpture work.

It is the only temple in Kerala where the ‘Satha Kodi Archana’ is performed which is attended by large number of devotees. Malayalappuzha is connected by bus service with Pathanamthitta.

Attukal Bhagavathi Temple (Near Trivandrum)

At a distance of 3.5 Kms from Trivandrum Central Railway Station, Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is one of the famous temples in Kerala and famously known as the Sabarimal of Women. This temple got its place in Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the largest gathering of women in the world’. About 1.5 million women gather at this temple to celebrate the famous Pongala festival.

Dedicated to Goddess Devi (another form of Goddess Parvathi), this temple is located in the heart of Trivandrum city. Pilgrims visiting Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple consider their visit is incomplete without offering prayers at this temple.

Attukal Pongala is the main festival celebrated at this temple on Karthika day of Kumbham month (Feb/March). During this festival, millions of women gather around this temple and prepare Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut as well as other ingredients) to offer to the goddess to seek her best blessings.

Sri Vallabha Temple - Thiruvalla (Near Kottayam)

At a distance of 29 Kms from Kottayam, 35 Kms from Alappuzha & 33 kms from Pathanamthitta, Sri Vallabha Temple is located near Thiruvalla town (4 Kms) in Pathanamthitta district.

This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is one among the 108 Diva Kshetrams in India. This temple is built in typical Kerala style of temple architecture with fine carvings and murals. The inner sanctum of the temple houses a 6 feet tall idol of Maha Vishnu. The flag staff of the temple is made out of granite and it is about 50 feet tall. A 3 feet idol of Garuda (the eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu) is installed on top of the flagstaff.

This temple is famous for the traditional Kathakali performances almost every night and it is perhaps the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is regularly performed as a ritual offering to a deity, after the evening Pooja

The annual festival of the temple is celebrated in Feb / Mar and the Utharaseeveli festival is celebrated for one day on Mar / Apr.

Vaikom (Near Kumarakom)

At a distance of 35 km from Kottayam and 18 km from Kumarakom, Vaikom, situated on the eastern side of Vembanad lake is the oldest township in Kottayam district. Vaikom is famous as a temple town and a popular getaway to experience beautiful backwaters in kerala.

Vaikom is well known for the the ancient Mahadeva temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and believed to be built by Parasurama, the founder of Kerala. The temple has a huge courtyard spanning over to 8 acres of land and four towers on each side of the temple. Other major attractions of the Mahadeva Temple includes the Garbagriha, a golden Stupa surmounting Garbagriha, 19.5m tall golden staff, etc. The exterior walls of the Garbagriha exhibit several pieces of artwork.

This is the place which had made a significance in Indian history with the Vaikom Sathyagraham in 1924, i.e the movement against untouchability in Hindu society. Leader of the Indian Freedom Movement Mahatma .

St. Francis Church (Near Kochi)

At a distance of 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Railway Station, St.Francis Church is the first European Church built in India. It is located on Parade Road in Fort kochi, less than 1 Km from Kochi Beach.

The Church was originally named as Santo Antonio, the patron Saint of Portugal. The history of this Church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th Centuries. The Portuguese Vasco da Gama was the first European to discover the sea route to India. In 1503 Alphonso Alburquerque was given permission by the Rajah of Cochin to build a fort. The original structure was built in wood, which was later rebuilt in stone. Vasco Da Gama has died in Kochi in 1524 and was originally buried in this church cemetery. After 14 years, his remains were moved to Lisbon in Portugal. The gravestone of Vasco Da Gama can still be seen here.

Nagaraja Temple - Mannarsala (Near Alappuzha / Alleppey)

At a distance of 18 km from Ambalapuzha and 32 km from Alleppey, Sree Nagaraja Temple is an ancient Hindu Temple situated at Mannarsala in Alleppey district of Kerala. It is a popular center of pilgrimage for the devotees of serpent gods and also one of the best places to visit in Alappuzha.

Located near Haripad, the temple is dedicated to Nagaraja, the serpent God. It is believed that the deity in this pilgrim center is blessed with the spirit of Lord Shiva and has the form of Lord Vishnu. This is the only shrine in Kerala which is headed by a priestess. According to the legend, the first priestess of Mannarasala Temple gave birth to a five-headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family.

The famous Mannarasala Temple covers an area of 16 acres of dense green forest grove. The main Mannarasala Temple premise has two separate sanctum sanctorums, one devoted to Sarpayakshi and the other for Nagaraja. There are over 30,000 idol of snakes

Thirunelly Temple (Near Wayanad)

At a distance of 22 km from Mananthavady, 28 km from Irupu Falls & 45 km from Kalpetta, Thirunelly Temple is an ancient temple located in a beautiful valley beneath Brahmagiri hill range close to Kerala – Karnataka boarder (near Kutta, close to Nagarhole National Park). It is one of the most ancient places of pilgrimage in Kerala and also one of the most popular temples in Wayanad.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu. Situated at an altitude of about 900 m, the temple is surrounded by mountains and beautiful forests. History depicts Chera king Kulasekharan as the founder of this temple. There exists documentary proof that Thirunelly at the time of Tamil Chera king Bhaskara Ravi Varma I (962-1019 CE) was an important town and pilgrim center in South India. In the dense jungles surrounding temple, the ruins of two ancient villages can be found.