Half the territory that falls within this beautiful district of Pathanamthitta is dense forest land. Within the forest lies an enchanting tourist destination, Kokkathode. Well-known location in pilgrimage tours, Pathanamthitta has many churches and temples (including the renowned 'Sabarimala' temple) and is venue for many religious conventions. The superbly constructed water reservoirs in the district (at Kakki, Pamba, Anthode), while showcasing architectural merit, also present a picturesque sight. Aranmula, the ideal place to pick up a dexterously crafted metal mirrors that is unique of Kerala, is also a known center of cultural tourism. One of Pathanamthitta's distinctive attractions is the elephant training centers at Konni.
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This is a famous Muslim pilgrim center. In the month of February every year, tourists and believers swarm the place to join the famous 'Chandanakkudam' feast and to witness the grand celebration observed then. The many colors, bright lights, majestically decorated elephants and musical accompaniment leave vivid images in the memory of the visitors.
Manjinikkara earns its fame as the sacred place where the tomb of a celebrated Christian patriarch remains .The mortal remains of Mar Ignatius 111 attracts a lot of believers into the Pathanamthitta district every year.
Malayalappuzha - 8kms away from Pathanamthitta
This place is famous for the ancient Bhagavathi temple situated here. Not only does the monument stand as a classical example of temple architecture, but it also showcases brilliant craftsmanship through the elegant wall paintings and stone figurines. There is also a grand festival celebrated at the temple every year
Kadammanitta - 8kms away from Pathanamthitta
This is a typical Kerala village. On a visit to the place one can observe the tranquil life people lead in villages here. There is also a beautiful Devi temple here. A special kind of folk art called Padayani is performed at the temple grounds every April. Kadammanitta is also well known for the many stone statues that enact stories and incidents narrated in famous poems, especially those of poet Ramakrishnan.
Konni Elephant Cage - 11kms away from Pathanamthitta
Konni offers something unusual to visitors. The place is synonymous with 'aanakoodu' or the elephant cage. The main attraction here is the huge wooden cages where wild elephants are put in and trained for various purposes. One can often find herds of elephants roaming about in the nearby forest area.
Sabarimala that stands as tall as about 914m above sea level is a part of the great Sahya ranges. The Ayyappan temple here is one of the most popular pilgrim centers. Pilgrims, especially from the southern states, keenly observe stringent rituals for 41 days, tread through the forest (a part of the journey up hill is on foot) , and gather at the temple during the festive seasons to receive the Lord's blessings. Though there are special prayers offered every Malayalam month, the busiest months are Dec- Jan and April when the famous Makara Vilakku and Vishu Vilakku are celebrated. During the festival period there are frequent bus services to Sabarimala from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
The bank of this river is the chief point where pilgrims break their journey to the Ayyappan temple at Sabarimala. Standing here one can also gaze at the splendid sight of the convergence of three noisy rivers.
Perumthenaruvi, is one of the rivers that adds luster to the landscape of Pathanamthitta. The specific spot that takes after the river is in a relatively unexplored lush forest area, amidst a few boulders. At this serene location, gallons of clear water surge down great heights into a deep gorge to join the Pampa River.
This is another of the attractions near Sabarimala, this location is known for the ancient Siva Temple and the Ecumenical Christian center . The few acres of well-maintained farms in the area seem like lush velvet carpets.
Aranmula is a popular tourist destination and a famous pilgrim center. This little town by Pamba is where one of the much-awaited Snake-boat races is held.
The riverbank would be teeming with tourists and the media in August- September when the spectacular boat race and the connected celebrations are held.The river, with long snake shaped boats, the huge ornamental umbrellas and many uniformed oarsmen, would indeed be a sight to see. Around the same time in the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug- Sept) the famous Sree Krishna temple at Aranmula also becomes a major attraction. There would be elaborate decorations, processions and weeklong festivities to celebrate the installation of the deity.
Aranmula is also noted for its crafts and people's dexterity. The talented craftsmen here put together the legendary Aranmula kannadi. These special metal (mirrors from bell metal instead of glass) mirrors with excellently crafted handles, are prepared only at Aranmula by following a secretly guarded technique.
This institute at Aranmula has as special a place as Cheruthuruthy at Thrissur. Traditional performance arts, crafts and martial arts of Kerala are taught here. Special lessons are given to foreigners who wish to enroll as students.
Kozhencherry and Charalkunnu - 5kms away from Kozhenchery
Kozhencherry remains extremely popular as the venue for the biggest religious gathering of the Christians in Asia. Named the Maramon convention, this famous congregation is held every February/ March. There is also another Christian retreat at the near by Charalkunnu.
The Valiya Koickal temple, on the banks of the Achankoil River, is one of the main halts on the pilgrimage to Sabarimala. This temple is considered to have been erected by Lord Ayyappa himself. This is also the chosen place to safeguard the sacred ornaments that adorn the deity at Sabarimala temple. Grand processions carrying these ornaments leave from Achankoil to Sabarimala during festivals .
The beautiful church in the area has earned Parumala the fame of a renowned Christian pilgrim centre. The magnificent building also houses the tomb of celebrant Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, a Saint of Malankara Orthodox Church. The best time to visit the place is in November when one would also get to witness the fabulous orma perunnal (Remembrance Day) celebrations.
Thiruvalla Srevallabha Temple
This temple at Parumala is one of the most important pilgrim centres for Vaishnavites all over India. A granite pillar carved out of a single piece with an image of Garuda on its top stands in front of the temple. The pillar which serves as a flagstaff is 60ft. in height. Kathakali, the classical dance of Kerala, is performed almost all nights in this temple as offerings by devotees. The temple is situated 3kms away from the railway station.
A few kilometers away from Parumala, at the nearby Thiruvalla town are Paliakara church. This monument is also noted for its splendid construction work and spectacular mural paintings.
This place earns its fame not only as a pilgrim center, but also as a historically significant site as well as. The powerful ancient church situated at Niranam, near Parumala, dates back to 52A.D. This monument is believed to have been erected by Apostle St. Thomas and is considered the oldest Christian church.
Kaviyoor, near Parumala is noted for the many ancient temples here. The Sree Hanuman temple here is one of the few temples in the state dedicated to the monkey god. The temple structure also is a marvelous example of typical Kerala temple architecture.
The ancient Siva temple at Kavioor is believed to have been constructed by the rulers of the Pallava dynasty. The rock cut temple and the remarkable stone carvings and statues there are more than 13 centuries old. The monument is now being maintained and preserved by the Archeology department.
Koduman has an extraordinary place among the pilgrim centers. Koduman is known for the unique Spider temple. People visit the place and offer special prayers believing that the deity here can cure spider poison.
Mannadi has a special place among the cultural centers of Kerala. Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk arts imparts training in the different traditional art forms. The place is also known for the very old Bhagavathi temple here and the stone work and figurines in the temple yard. The temple lures a lot of visitors and tourists in February/March when annual celebrations connected to the temple festival, Ushabali commence.
Kakki reservoir is one of the most famous of the three reservoirs in Pathanamthitta. The construction style of the reservoir is noteworthy. There is also a brilliantly prepared artificial lake where boating facilities are also provided. One might also get a chance to spot tigers, elephants, deer or monkeys in the lush tropical forest that hems the reservoir.
Air : Nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram (119 km)
Rail : Nearest railway station is at Thiruvalla (30 km); Chengannur (28 km)
Road: Pathanamthitta is well connected by an excellent network of roads to all major towns in Kerala.