The Headquarters of the Indian Orthodox Church is the Catholicate Palace located at Devalokam, Kottayam. It is the official headquarters of the Malankara Metropolitan and the Catholicos Of The East who reigns on the Supreme Throne of St.Thomas the Apostle.
Kottayam district gets its name from the town of Kottayam, which serves as the headquarters of the district. The royal house of the Thekkumkoor ruler were protected by a fort called Thaliyilkotta. It is believed that the name Kottayam is derived from a combination of the Malayalam words kotta which means fort(Thalitilkotta) and akam which means inside combining it become kottaykkakam (കോട്ടയ്ക്കകം). It can be translated as "the interior of the fort".
From the beginning of the ninth century AD, the history of Thekkumkoor and of Kottayam are virtually indistinguishable. Kottayam then was a part of Vempolinad, an area in the Kulashekara Empire(800 – 1102 AD). By about 1100 AD, the Kingdom of Vempolinad had split into the Kingdoms of Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur. After their separation, Thekkumkur became an independent kingdom, while Vedakkumkur became a vassal of Cochin.
The royal house originally situated in Vennimala in Kottayam. It was protected by a fort known as Thaliyilkotta and as a result the locality came to be known in the same name as the fort. On a later stage, Thekkumkoor kings shifted their headquarters to Nattassery near Kumaranallore at the outskirts of Kottayam town. It is also believed that the Thekkumkoor family ruled Kottayam from Thazhathangadi.
Later, the Portuguese and the Dutch established trade relations with both these kingdoms, dealing in black pepper and other spices.
After the subjugation of the Dutch by Travancore in 1742, military operations of Marthanda Varma progressed against the northern neighbouring kingdoms including Thekkumkoor. Though Thekkumkoor 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 under Marthanda Varma. After the fall of Ambalapuzha, and as the ruler of Thekkumkoorr refused to come to terms with Travancore, his capital city was taken on 11 September in 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.
There existed no institution in the princely state of Travancore before the 1800s. The Church Missionary Society of England established the CMS College the first college in India. Rev.Benjamin Bailey was the first principal of the CMS College, as it was then known, and the government of India welcomed the college as "a place of general education hence any demands of the state for officers to fill all departments of public service would be met"
Kottayam has played its role in all the political agitations of modern times. The 'Malayali Memorial ' agitation may be said to have had its origin in Kottayam. The Malayali Memorial sought to secure better representation for educated Travancoreans in the Travancore civil service against persons from outside. The Memorial, which was presented to the Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal (1891) was drafted at a public meeting held 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 aimed at 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 also 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 renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to District Collectors. As a result, in July 1949, Kottayam came into being as a district.
Kottayam has an average elevation of 3 metres (9.8 ft) above sea level. and is situated in the basin of the Meenachil River and in the basin of the Vembanad backwaters, which are formed from several streams in the Western Ghats in Idukki district. According to the division of places in Kerala based on altitudes, Kottayam is classified as being a midland area. The general soil type is alluvial soil. The vegetation is mainly tropical evergreen and moist deciduous type.
The climate in this district is moderate and pleasant. Kottayam's proximity to the equator results in little seasonal temperature variation, with moderate to high levels of humidity. Annual temperatures range between 20 to 35 °C (68 to 95 °F). From June through September, the south-west monsoon brings in heavy rains, as Kottayam lies on the windward side of the Western Ghats. From October to December, Kottayam receives light rain from the northwest monsoon. The average annual rainfall is 3,200 millimetres (130 in).
Kottayam is bordered by Pathanamthitta district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west, Ernakulam district on the north and Idukki district on the east.
As of 2001 India census, Kottayam Urban Agglomeration had a population of 172,878, while Kottayam district had a population of 1,974,551. The population of Kottayam municipality is 55,374. Males constitute 62% of the population and females make up 38%. Population growth in the district is in a diminishing trend and it had a decadal population growth rate of 6.5 per cent compared to 9.35 per cent for Kerala during 1991-2001 period. The reason for the growth of population within the Kottayam Municipality is migration in search of jobs. Kottayam District is ranked 1st in literacy with a percentage of 95.9 compared to 90.92% for Kerala State and 65.38% for India (2001 census). Presently, Kottayam town and district is ranked fourth in literacy in India with a tremendous literacy rate of 97.21%.
Schedule Caste (SC) constitutes 6.73% while Schedule Tribe (ST) were 0.31% of total population in Kottayam.
Out of total population, 19,739 were engaged in work or business activity. Of this 14,282 were males while 5,457 were females. In census survey, worker is defined as person who does business, job, service, and cultivator and labour activity. Of total 19739 working population, 90.17% were engaged in Main Work while 9.83% of total workers were engaged in Marginal Work.
One of the three L's of Kottayam City is Latex. Kottayam is a major trading centre 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 not a major contributor to the economy as no tourism related businesses thrive in the town. The backwater tourism destination named Kumarakom is one of the notable tourism activity. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is the favourite haunt of migratory birds.
The cuisine of Kottayam is the same as rest of Kerala, but with a distinct Syrian Christian influence seen in the use of coconut and spices, as well as beef and sea food in Kerala cuisine. But still it has a multitude of both 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.
Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali and martial arts such as 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 practised by a large number of young people.
Chuvar Chitra Nagari or City of Mural was an initiative taken by the authorities of Kottayam and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi to add a new tag to Kottayam and to preserve and promote this mural art culture of Kerala.
Kottayam lies on the National Highway 183 (Old NH 220) connecting the City of Kollam and Theni. The NH183 connects Kottayam to the state of Tamil Nadu.
Main Central Road or MC Road or the SH1 is one of the state highways passing through the city. This highway connects Kottayam to the north up to Angamaly. In south, it links Kottayam to Changanasserry and the remaining main cities in the south up to Trivandrum.
SH9 or the Kottayam Kozhenchery Road is the other state highway which connects Kottayam to the Pathanamthitta district.
Seematti Round is the junction of most of the roads in the town. It is the busiest junction with 6 roads intersecting here.
A new 4-lane road from Kodimatha to Puthuppally church along banks of Kodoor river is expected to start soon aimed at Sabarimala and pilgrims to Puthuppally Church. There will be walking way too.
Public transport in the town 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 of which cater to private buses and one exclusively for KSRTC buses.
Hired forms of transport include metered taxis and auto-rickshaws.
Kottayam railway station (Station Code:KTYM) is under the administration of the Southern Railway. Kottayam railway station has 3 platforms for handling long distance and passenger trains. A railway goods shed is also situated at the station. The station is located at Nagampadam which is at a distance of 2.5 km from Kottayam town. Kottayam lies on the busy rail route between Thiruvananthapuram - Kollam - Ernakulam and is served by several long distance trains connecting most major cities in the country.
The Kottayam Railway station and the tracks to it lies parallel to the Cherthala railway station and its tracks. Chingavanom railway station lies towards the south of the Kottayam town railway station and it is a goods station. Other railway stations nearby are Ettumanoor, Kumaranellore and Changanasserry
The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, 90 km to the north. Construction of an airport in Cheruvally Estate near Erumely is proposed by the Kerala Government which is going to be the first airport in the district and nearest to the city.
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.
Kottayam is always in the forefront in literacy and education and is the first town in India to attain 100% adult literacy. In the 17th century, a Dutch school was started at Kottayam, which was short-lived .The first English school in Kerala was started by the Missionaries of the Church Mission Society (C.M.S) at Kottayam, in the beginning of the 19th century. Kottayam.
Mahatma Gandhi University OR MG University or simply MGU, established in the 1980s is one of the 6 universities in Kerala.
Institute of Information Technology located in Valavoor, Pala is the other.It is a deemed University organised as a conglomerate of researchers and students with administrative and academic bodies to guide itself.The admission to IIIT is through Central Seat allocation Board (CSAB). Currently a B.Tech. course in Computer Science is offered.
A science city is being constructed in Kuravilangad, about 22 km from Kottayam. It is expected to be completed by 2024. It is one of the few science cities in India. It aims for science popularisation and improving science literacy in the region. Science City will be set up by NCSM on a turn-key basis and it will be handed over to the State Government for its operation after opening. The capital expenditure for setting up the Science City at Kottayam will be shared as per norms in 60:40 basis, between the Govt. of India and the Govt. of Kerala. The project cost escalation based on the prevailing RBI index shall be borne by the State Govt. The Science Centre, Kottayam is being set up in a land area of app. 10.0 acres and will have a built up area of app. 4000 sq. Mtr with 3 interactive science galleries, a 3D theatre, an auditorium, Science Park etc. The Science Centre, Kottayam after opening is likely to attract approx. 3.00 lakh visitors annually.
The Government Medical College, Kottayam is one of the most prominent medical colleges in Kerala. It was established in 1962 in the town as the third Government medical college in the state and later shifted to the current location in Arpookara, about 8 km from Kottayam in 1970. In 1975, all clinical departments were shifted to the newly constructed campus at Arpookara, now named Gandhinagar. The same year, the nearby ESI Hospital was taken over to start the children's hospital: Institute of Child Health. A new administrative B block was started in 1985. In 1996, the C block was added which houses the departments of Pharmacology, Pathology, Microbiology and the Central Library.
The institution is affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam with an annual intake of 150 MBBS students, 83 Post-Graduate students 15 Laboratory Technology students, 15 Radiographers 30 Pharmacy Diploma students and 50 BSc Nursing students and 8 super speciality students. The Government Dental College, the Institute of Child Health and Nursing College Kottayam are the connected medical institutes.
Jnananikshepam was the first newspaper published by the natives of Kerala, and it was brought out from CMS press at Kottayam in 1848. Kottayam has produced many well-known writers, journalists and artists. Muttathu Varkey, a novelist and Pala Narayanan Nair, a poet, both have their footing in Kottayam. Kottayam Pushpanath, a writer of crime thrillers lives in Kottayam. The famous 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.
A number of popular basketball tournaments including the Marian Trophy, Girideepam Trophy, Lourdes Trophy and Virginia Memorial Tournament are conducted every year. The main sports stadia in Kottayam are Nehru Stadium and Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium. Both are located in Nagambadom.
Unnuneeli Sandesam is supposed to have been written by one of the Rajas of Vadakkumkur. In 1821, Benjamin Bailey, a British missionary, established C.M.S. Press, the first printing press in Kerala, in Kottayam. The town has been in the forefront of newspaper and book publishing in the state ever since.
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 in Kottayam.
Today, seven major Malayalam newspapers – Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhoomi, Deshabhimani, Deepika, Madhyamam, Thejus and Mangalam – and around thirty periodicals are published from Kottayam. Kottayam is also home to several book publishers in Malayalam such as D. C. Books, Labour India Publications and Current Books. Almost 70 percent of books published in Kerala are from Kottayam. In 1945, a group of writers set up Sahithya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangam, which means for Literary Workers' Co-operative Society in Malayalam. poets.
Kottayam is one of the six municipalities in the district. The members of the municipal council is elected from each ward every five years along with Local Government Election in whole state. The chairperson is the executive authority of the municipality. The Kottayam municipality formed after the implementation of Kerala Municipalities Act in 1994. There are a total of 52 wards in the municipality.
Kottayam town is the part of the Kottayam legislative assembly constituency. Just like the local government election, the legislative assembly election is also conducted every for years. The last election was conducted in 2016 May. The Kottayam is part of the Kottayam Lok Sabha Constituency.
The collectorate of the Kottayam District is located in Kottayam town. The present collector is CA Latha IAS. Many administrative and district offices of Kottayam including the District Court is situated within the collectorate premises.
During the tenure of Colonel John Munro as the Diwan of various states in India, he established 5 courts. One of them was established in Vaikom. The district court at Kottayam was established in 1910 during the period of Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja of Tranvancore. The court celebrated its centenary in 2010. The District Headquarters of judiciary is set up at Kottayam town with the Principal District Court as it Administrative Centre. The justice delivery system consists of eight Munsiff Courts, ten Judicial 1st Class Magistrate Courts, three Sub Courts, one Chief Judicial Magistrate Court and three Additional District Courts. Beside these regular courts, two Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals and one special court for Vigilance cases and two Family Courts also function in this district.
The current municipal chairperson is PR Sona. UDF is the current front with majority in the municipal council.
The current member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Kottayam is Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. . He has been of the member of legislative assembly of Kerala representing Kottayam town constituency since 2011.