Kottayam is a city in the Indian state of Kerala, spread over an area of 55.40 km2 and is the administrative capital of Kottayam district. Kottayam is located in south-central Kerala and has a population of 172,878 according to the 2001 census. The city is approximately 150 km (93.2 mi) from the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The city is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber.
Major Kerala print media such as Malayala Manorama, Deepika and Mangalam are headquartered in the town. Also a pioneering center of modern education in Kerala, the city became India's first city to achieve 100% literacy in 1989 and the district became the first tobacco free district in India on September 28, 2008. The city of Kottayam is also known as Akshara Nagari in honor of its contributions to print media and literature.
Culture, Literature and Sports:
Kottayam has a place of honor on the cultural map of Kerala. The culture of Kottayam is influenced mainly by the large presence of the Syrian Christian community. The cuisine of Kottayam is the same as rest of Kerala, but with a distinct Syrian Christian influence seen in the use of cocunut and spices, as well as beef, pork and sea food Keralite Cuisine.
Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali and martial arts like Parichamuttukali, are popular among the Syrian Christian community. It is performed by men and women separately. 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. Besides these, other South Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom, and Kuchipudi and classical Carnatic music are also practiced by a large number of young people.
Kottayam is a major trading center of natural rubber in India. Rubber trees are extensively cultivated in central Kerala, on plantations, both large and small especially in vast areas of Kottayam District, . The Rubber Board, a body set up by the Government of India for the development of the rubber industry, is located at Kottayam. A number of small and medium sized enterprises in and around the town are engaged in the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Besides rubber, Kottayam is a trading place of other commercial crops like spices cultivated widely in the surrounding areas. The Plantation Corporation of Kerala has its headquarters at Kottayam.
Tourism is a major contributor to the economy as many tourism related businesses thrive in the town. Kumarakom, a popular tourist destination in Kerala, is located 14 km from the town. Wagamon, another tourist destination is located on the borders of the districts of Kottayam and Idukki. Kottayam is known for religious tourism. St. Alphonsa, the first woman to be canonized as a saint by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church was born and raised in Kottayam.
Ferry & Port:
Kottayam Port, India's first multi-modal Inland Container Depot (ICD) and a minor port using inland water way, is situated at Nattakom (near Kodimatha), on the banks of Kothoor river. The Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) operates ferry services through the backwaters in and around Kottayam city. Ferries are a major mode of transport to the town connect to the tourist destination of Kumarakom and Alappuzha, as well as several smaller destinations. There are two major ferry jetties in the city - Town Jetty and Kodimatha Jetty. In recent years, the boat jetty at Kumarakom has acquired international fame as a launch point for the backwater rides on Vembabad lake, which has virtually become a poster image for tourism in Kerala.