Kottayam Knowledge Guide


Thekkumkur rule (1100–1753 AD)

From the beginning of the ninth century AD, the history of Thekkumkur and of Kottayam are virtually indistinguishable. Kottayam was then a part of Vempolinad, an area in the Kulashekara Empire (800–1102 AD). By about 1100, the Kingdom of Vempolinad had split into the Kingdoms of Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur, and the latter became a vassal of Cochin. The royal house had originally beeb situated in Vennimala in Kottayam. It was protected by a fort known as Thaliyilkotta and, as a result, the locality came to be known by the same name as the fort. Afterwards, Thekkumkur kings shifted their capital to Nattassery near Kumaranallore at the outskirts of Kottayam town. It is believed that the Thekkumkur dynasty ruled Kottayam from Thazhathangadi. The Portuguese and the Dutch established trade relations with both of these kingdoms, dealing in black pepper and other spices. After the subjugation of the Dutch East India Company by the Kingdom of Travancore in 1742, military operations of Marthanda Varma progressed against the northern neighbouring kingdoms, including Thekkumkur. Though Thekkumkur allied with Chempakassery and Vadakkumkoor to protect the kingdom, all of them were finally annexed to Travancore. Another source states that the ruler of Thekkumkur had sided first with the Kingdom of Kayamkulam and then with the principality of Ambalapuzha against Travancore. After the fall of Ambalapuzha, and as the ruler of Thekkumkur refused to come to terms with Travancore, his capital city was taken on 11 September 1750 by Ramayyan Dalawa, the general and prime minister of Marthanda Varma, and the state was annexed to Travancore in 1753. During British rule in India, Kottayam remained a part of the Princely State of Travancore.

British rule

There existed no institution in the princely state of Travancore before the 1800s. In 1817, the Church Missionary Society of England established CMS College as the first college in India. It was welcomed by the government to provide administrators for the public bureaucracy Kottayam had a role in all the modern political agitations. The Malayali Memorial agitation of 1891 may be said to have had its origin in Kottayam. This document, presented to the Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal, sought to secure better representation for educated Travancoreans in the civil service, and was drafted at a public meeting in the Kottayam public library. The event marked the beginning of the modern political movement in the state. The people of Kottayam also played a major role during the Abstention Movement in the 1930s, which advocated for the representation of Hindus of the lower castes in the Travancore Legislature. The Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 against untouchability, led by Mahatma Gandhi, took place in Vaikom near Kottayam.


Kottayam became a revenue division of Travancore. A fifth division, Devikulam, existed for a short period but was later added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, these revenue divisions were redesignated as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to district collectors, with the Kottayam district established in July 1949.



The cuisine of Kottayam is representative of Kerala cuisine, but with a distinct Syrian Christian influence seen in the use of coconut and spices, as well as beef and seafood. The local toddy shops serve spicy fish dishes along with toddy (alcohol fermented from the sap of coconut trees).There are a multitude of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Rice is the staple food eaten twice or thrice a day. Lunch dishes are generally rice with curry. Most of the breakfast foods are made using either rice or wheat.

Dance and music

Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali and martial arts such as Parichamuttukali are popular among the Syrian Christian community, performed separately by men and women. In the past, it was performed during Syrian Christian weddings. Arjuna Nritham, also known as Mayilpeeli Thookkam, is a popular dance form performed by men. In addition, other South Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom, and Kuchipudi, and classical Carnatic music, are also practised by a large number of young people.


Chuvar Chitra Nagari or "City of Murals" was an initiative taken by the authorities of Kottayam and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi to add to the city's distinctiveness and to preserve and promote this mural art culture of Kerala.


Unnuneeli Sandesam is supposed to have been written by one of the Rajas of Vadakkumkur. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Malayalam literature was enriched by the works of Christian missionaries. Varthamana Pusthakam (1778), written by Parammekkal Thoma Kathanar on a visit to Rome, is the first travelogue in Malayalam. The first Malayalam English dictionary and Malayalam dictionary were published in Kottayam in the years 1846 and 1865 respectively. The first autobiography in Malayalam by Vaikom Pachu Moothathu was published in Kottayam in 1870. The first Malayalam Bible was also published from Kottayam.Jnananikshepam was the first newspaper published by the natives of Kerala, published at CMS press at Kottayam in 1848. Kottayam has produced many well-known writers, journalists and artists. Novelist Muttathu Varkey and poet Pala Narayanan Nair both have roots in Kottayam. Kottayam Pushpanath, a writer of crime thrillers lives in Kottayam. The Indian-English novelist Arundhati Roy is a native of Kottayam and her semi-autobiographical Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things, contains her childhood experiences in Aymanam, Kottayam. Unni R. a story writer and scriptwriter, is also from Kottayam.


Road transport

Kottayam lies on National Highway 183 (NH 183, old designation NH 220) connecting the cities of Kollam and Theni. The NH 183 connects Kottayam to Dindigul in the state of Tamil Nadu. State highways include Kottaya's Main Central Road or (MC Road or SH1), which connects north to Angamaly and south to Trivandrum via Changanasserry. SH9 (a.k.a. Kottayam Kozhenchery Road) connects to the Pathanamthitta district to the south. Seematti Round is a busy traffic junction in the city, where six major roads intersect. Alloted in the 2017 municipal budget, a new four-lane road from Kodimatha to Puthuppally church along the banks of the Kodoor river is aimed at relieving traffic congestion for pilgrims at Sabarimala. Public transport in Kottaya is largely dependent on buses, run by both private operators and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). There are three bus stations serving Kottayam, two for private buses and one reserved for KSRTC buses. Hired transport include metered taxis and auto-rickshaws.


Kottayam railway station (station code: KTYM) is located at Nagampadam which is 2.5 km (1.6 mi) outside Kottayam town. It is on the Thiruvananthapuram–Kollam–Ernakulam rail line, under the administration of the Southern Railway. The station has three platforms for handling long distance and passenger trains. It also has a railway goods shed, though most cargo moves through Chingavanom railway station to the south.


The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, 90 km (56 mi) to the north. Construction of an airport in Cheruvally Estate near Erumely has been proposed by the Kerala government, and would be the first airport in Kottayam district.


Kottayam Port and Container Terminal (KPCT) is India's first multi-modal inland container depot. It is situated at Nattakom near Kodimatha, on the banks of Kodoor river. Recently, barge services were launched between Cochin port and Kottayam. Kerala State Water Transport Department (SWTD) operates ferry passenger services from different parts of Kottayam district.