Kottayam

Kottayam is one of the 14 districts in the state of Kerala, India. The district has its headquarters at Kottayam town, located at 9.36° N and 76.17° E. Kottayam is known as city of three ‘L’ – Literacy, Lakes and Latex. According to the 1991 census, it is the first district to achieve 100% literacy rate in the whole of India. On 27 September 2008, Kottayam district also became the first tobacco free districts in India.

Bordered by the Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam has many unique characteristics. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, hills and hillocks, rubber plantations and places associated with many legends given Kottayam District the enviable title: The land of letters, legends, latex and lakes. The district is 15.35% urbanised.

The Headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is the Catholicate Palace located at Devalokam, Kottayam, in Kerala state of India. It is the official headquarters of the Catholicos Of The East who reigns on the Supreme Throne of St.Thomas the Apostle. The headquarters of Madhya Kerala diocese of church of south India is located at Kottayam.

Kottayam literally means the interior of a fort – Kotta + Akam. Rulers of Munjanad and Thekkumkur had their headquarters at Thazhathangadi near Kottayam town.Marthanda Varma of Travancore attacked Thekkumkur and destroyed the palace and the Thaliyil Fort. The remnants of the palaces and forts are still seen here.

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.

It was in Kottayam that the famous Vaikom Satyagraha (1924–25), an epic struggle for eradication of untouchability, took place. Scheduled castes and other backward classes in Travancore were denied not only entry into temples, but also access to temple roads. Vaikom, the seat of a celebrated Siva Temple, was the venue of the symbolic satyagraha. It is of immense historic significance that national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and E.V. Ramswami Naykar, associated with this struggle.The ‘ Nivarthana ‘ agitation of the early thirties, to secure adequate representation for the non-caste Hindus, Christians and Muslims in the state Legislature, enjoyed considerable support from this district. The district was also a centre of the agitation led by the state Congress for responsible Government in Travancore. The agitation had a triumphant end, with the overthrow of Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, the then Dewan of Travancore.

The present Kottayam district was previously a part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Earlier, the Travancore state consisted of two revenue divisions viz. the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a ‘Diwan Peshkar’ for each. Later in 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. The fifth division Devikulam came next but only for a short period, which in course of time, was added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the state of Travancore and Cochin (Kochi) in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to District Collectors, paving the way for the birth of the Kottayam District in July 1949 which included Kottayam, Muvattupuzha (including present day Kothamangalam), Thodupuzha, Changanasserry, Vaikkom, Meenachil, Devikulam and Peermade taluks.

Kottayam has a tropical climate like that of the rest of Kerala, hence there are no distinct seasons in the area. Humidity is high and rises to about 90% during the rainy season. Kottayam gets rain from two monsoon seasons, the south-west monsoon and the north-east monsoon. The average rainfall is around 3600 mm per year. The south-west monsoon starts in June and ends in September. The north-east monsoon season is from October to November. Pre-monsoon rains during March to May is accompanied by thunder and lightning ; the highest rainfall during this period in Kerala is received in Kottayam. December, January and February are cooler, while March, April and May are warmer. The highest temperature recorded here was 38.5 °C (6 April 1998) and the lowest was 15 °C (13 December 2000).Kottayam district experienced the most intense red rainfall, heavy downpours occurred in 2001 during which the rain was colored red, yellow, green, and black.

Kottayam town is linked by major roads and rail to other prominent cities in Kerala, and also linked to the waterways for scenic travel. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport which is about 88 kilometers away. Kottayam is the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.

Kottayam has a mountainous terrain as well as low-lying areas very close to sea level. Depending on the location different varieties of food crops as well as cash crops are cultivated. Rice is the principal crop extensively cultivated in low-lying regions like Vaikom and Upper Kuttanad. The district occupies the third position in the production of rice in Kerala behind Palakkad and Alappuzha. Though it is the staple food of the people, unfortunately the area under cultivation is dwindling due to more lucrative cash crops like rubber plantations for which Kottayam significantly contributes to the overall rubber production in India. Kottayam occupies the first position in the production of rubber in India. Rubber trees provide a stable income for the farmers and climate is ideal for rubber plantations. Though highlands are more suitable, the cultivation has spread to almost every where. Apart from these, other crops cultivated are tapioca, coconut, pepper, vegetables etc. In order to enhance the rubber productivity, government of India has set up Rubber board and Rubber research institute in Kottayam.

According to the 2011 census Kottayam district has a population of 1,979,384,roughly equal to the nation of Slovenia or the US state of New Mexico.This gives it a ranking of 234th in India (out of a total of 640).The district has a population density of 896 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,320/sq mi).Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–11 was 1.32%.Kottayam has a sex ratio of 1040 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 96.4%.As per 2001 Indian Census, population in Kottayam includes Hindus (49.32%), Christians (44.60%) and Muslims (5.97%).