Sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the backwaters, Kottayam is renowned for being the centre of Kerala’s spice and rubber trade rather than for its aesthetic appeal. For most travellers it’s a hub town, well connected to both the mountains and the backwaters, with many travellers taking the backwater cruise to or from Alleppey. The city itself has a crazy, traffic-clogged centre, but you don't have to go far to be in the villages and waterways.
Kottayam has a bookish history: the first Malayalam-language printing press was established here in 1820, and this was the first district in India to achieve 100% literacy. A place of churches and seminaries, it was a refuge for the Orthodox church when the Portuguese began forcing Keralan Christians to switch to Catholicism in the 16th century.
The Thirunakkara Utsavam festival is held in March at the Thirunakkara Shiva Temple.