Kottayam is a compound word- kotta+akam which means the interior of a fort. Rulers of Munjanad and Thekkumkur had their head quarters at Thazhathangadi in the present Kottayam town. Marthanda Varma of Travancore attacked Thekkumkur and destroyed the palace and the Thaliyil fort. The remnants of place and forts are still seen here.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The present district of Kottayam 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 division, under the administrative control of a ‘Diwan Peshkar' for each. Later, in 1868, two more division, Quilon and Kottayam, were constituted. The fifth division - Devikulm , came next but 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 in 1949, these revenue division were renamed as districts and the Diwan Pashkars gave way to District Collectors, marking the birth of the Kottayam District.
The beginning of the 9 th century A.D. is the age of the Kulasekharas. At that time, Kottayam was a part of the Vempolinad, which belonged to the Kulasekhara Empire (1090-1102 AD). The Vembanad lake itself, derives its name from Vempolinad.
The Kingdom of Vempolinad, split itself into the Kingdoms of Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur by about 1100 AD and later these two kingdoms were annexed by Marthanda Varma of Travancore (between 1749 and 1754).
The Portuguese and the Dutch had their business relations with both Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur kingdoms, pepper and other spices, being the main attractions. In addition to Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur, Marthanda Varma brought two more petty principalities in Kottayam under his control. These were Poonjar and Meenachil. After Marthanda Varma, Dharma Raja (1758-1798) placed Kottayam in a key position in the new defiance strategy against Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan of Mysore. Apart form this, Kottayam afforded asylum to a number of refugee princes who left Malabar in the wake of Mysore invasions.
Kottayam occupied a pre- eminent position in the cultural life of the Travancore princely court, the main reason being the migration of Ramapurathu Warrier, the famous poet of Vadakkumkur to Thiruvananthapuram, following the annexation Kottayam by Marthanda Varma.
Kottayam has played its role in all the political agitating 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 Mulam Thirunal (1891)was drafted at a public meeting held in the Kottayam Public Library. The event made the beginning of the modern political movement in the state.
It was here 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 not only denied entry into temple, 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. Ramaswami 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 the erstwhile state of Travancore. The agitation had a triumphant end, with the overthrow of Sir. C.P.Ramaswami Iyer, the Dewan of Travancore.
Lying a little south to central Kerala, Kottayam district is bordered on the north by Eranakulam district, on the east by Idukki district and on the south by Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts. The Vembanad lake forms the western boundary. Kottayam lies between Latitudes 9° 15` and 10° 21` and Longitudes 76° 22` and 77° 25`. The district is naturally divided into highland, midland and lowland; the bulk being constituted by the midland regions. Taluks of Meenachil and Kanjirappally have highland and midland areas, while the other three taluks have Midland and Lowland areas. Kottayam district has a total area of 2,204 sq.km, which forms 5.7% of the total area of the State.
The district has a tropical humid climate with an oppressive hot season in the plains and plenty of rainfall throughout. The hot season from March to May, is followed by the Southwest Monsoon form June to September. October and November constitute the post-Monsoon or retreating Monsoon season, when day temperature increases gradually and the heat is nearly as intense as in summer. December to February forms the Northeast Monsoon. Rains cease early in January.
The important rivers of the district are the Meenachil River, the Muvattupuzha River and the Manimala River.
The Meenachil River flows through the taluks of Meenachil, Vaikom and Kottayam . It is formed by several streams originating from the Western Ghats in Idukki district. At Erattupeetta, Poonjar River also joins it, takes a sharp turn and flows towards the west. At Kondur, it is joined by the Chittar and at Lalam it receives the Payuapparathodu and flows in a south- west direction till it reaches Kottayam . Here, it branches into several streams before emptying into the Vembanad Lake. The important town in the basin are Pala, Poonjar, Ettumanoor and Kottayam.
The Muvattupuzha River originates from Ernakulam district ,flows through Vaikom taluk and empties into the Vembanad Lake. The most important town in the basin is Vaikom , the famous pilgrim centre. The Manimala River flows through Kanjirappally and Changanasserri taluks. The Chittar joins it on its course further down the west as it flows to Alappuzha district. The important town in the basin is Mundakayam.
There is a total population of 1952901 according to the Census of 2001. Male population is 964433 and female population is 988468. The density of population is 884 per sq.km.
Kottayam District has two Revenue division viz., Kottayam and Pala, each under the control of a Revenue Division Officer. Vaikom, Kottayam, Changanasseri, Meenachil and Kanjirappallly are the taluks in the district. There are four municipalities, 11 development blocks and 73 panchayats. Kottayam,Vaikom,Pala and Changanasserri are the municipalities . Madappally, Pallom, Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy, Vaikom, Uzhavoor, Lalam, Erattuppetta, Kanjirappaly, Vazhoor and Pamapady are the development blocks.
In the 17 th Century, a Dutch school was started at Kottayam, which however proved to be short-lived. The first English school in Kerala was started by the Missionaries of the Church Mission Society (CMS), at Kottayam, in the beginning of he 19 th century, To this humble beginning, can be traced, the preeminence of Kerala, in education. The Mahatma Gandhi University is at Kottayam. Rajiv Gandhi Technological Institute was started at Puthupally in 1991. Lal Bahadur Sashtri Science and Technology sub-centre and the south India branch of the Indian Institute of Mass communication have also been started at Puthuppally and Vadavthoor respectively. The Nair Service Society, founded in 1914, which run several educational institutions in the State, has its head quarters in Changanasserri. Kottayam is the first town in India to achieve cent percent literacy.
In the history of Journalism, Kottayam occupies a prominent place. The origin of Journalistic activity in the district can be traced back to the middle of the last century. Jnananikshepam the first newspaper published by the natives, was brought out from CMS press at Kottayam in 1848.
Vidyasamgraham a publication of the CMS college, was started in 1864. Many of the famous writers had contributed to this publication. In 1867, Sandishtavadi another newspaper, was started at Kottayam by W.H.Moor, which was later banned. Malayala Mithram , started in 1878, was in circulation for about 12 years.
In 1887, Nasrani Deepika was started at Mannanam near Kottayam by the Carmelities of Mary Immaculate(CMI) missionaries, which later became the Deepika and continues to be one of the leading vernacular dailies of the State. The Malayala Manorama, the largest circulated daily in India, was started at Kottayam in 1890 by K.C. Mammen Mapila. Bhashaposhini, the literary magazine, was also started by K.C. Mammen Mapila in 1892. After a long break, this publication has been revived by the Malayala Manorama group of publications. Contributions of veteran like Kerala Varma Valiya Koyi Thampuran. Mooloor S. Padmanabha Panicker, Katakayathil Cheriyan Mapila and Moorkothu Kumaran, had appeared in the pages of these publications.
Kottayam is the centre of newspapers and periodicals. Four major dailies; Viz Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Deepika and Mangalam are being published from here. The number of periodicals come about thirty.
The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), a Central Government Institution, with its headquarters in New Delhi, has opened its second branch at Kottayam. The site of the Kottayam branch is at Vadavathoor, 3 km. away from Kottayam town. IIMC is engaged in improving professional Knowledge and technical skill of the personnel working in various media, information & publicity departments of the Government and Public Sector undertakings.
Kottayam has its place of honour in the cultural map of Kerala. Kunchan Nambiar, the father of Thullal, a popular temple art form, was supposed to have lived at Kidangoor.
Unnineeli Sandesm , the exquisite Malayalam poetical work, is supposed to have been written by one of the Vadakkumkur Rajas. Ramapurathu Warrier (1703-53) is one of the celebrated names in Malayalam literature. The Christian missionaries enriched Malayalam literature by their valuable contributions, in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. Varthamana Pusthakam (1778), written by Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar, on a travel to Rome, is the first travelogue in Malayalam. The first autobiography in Malayalam, by Vaikom Pachu Moothatu was published from Kottayam in 1870.
In the closing decades of the 19 th century and the beginning of the 20 th century, Kottayam shot into limelight as the nerve centre of all literary and cultural activities in the erstwhile Travancore State. Kottarathil Shankunny, Kandatthil Varghese Mappilai and Kerala Varma Valia Koi Thampuran are dignitaries worth mention. K.C Mammen Mappilai, Kattakayathil Cheriyan Mappilai, Vaikom Muhammed Bashir,Vadakkumkur Raja Raja Varma, Ponkunnam Varkey, Karur Neelakanta Pillai and M.P. Paul, are some among the many notable personalities from the district. The great film maker, late G. Aravindan, also belongs to Kottayam. Kottayam can claim many firsts: - in the field of education, mass communication printing, book publication etc. The first English school in the state was started here. The first printing press was set up here by Rev. Benjamin Beily in 1821. The part played by Deepika , Malayala Manorama and Bhasaposhini for the cultural and literary development, is of immense significance. There are many printing presses and book publishing companies in Kottayam.
Keralites have proved their deligence and extra ordinary brillience through out the world. Keralites are well known for their honesty and efficiency in all fields. In the list of Prominent Personalities we have tried to include all famous personalities from Kerala. We are trying to collect the details of the rest. If you have the details of any such personalities, please send to us.