St. Alphonsa’s Tomb, Bharananganam Church

The tomb of Saint. Alphonsa, the first saint from India, is the most popular Christian Pilgrimage center in Kerala. The tomb is located at Bharananganam in Kottayam district of Kerala. The nearest town is Pala and is only 5 kilometers from Bharananganam.

How to Reach St. Alphonsa’s Church:

By Road:
The Bharananganam church, as it is locally known, is only 27 kilometers from Kottayam. Vagamon, an upcoming tourist center in Kottayam, is only abiut 40 kilometers from here.
By Train:
The nearest railway station is Kottayam railway station and is only 27 kilometers away.
By Air:
The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport in Ernakulam. It is around 60 kilometers away from Bharananganam.

Other Places to visit:

St. Alphonsa Museum:

This museum is located opposite to the church across the road. It displays everything the saint used during her time.

Note:The best time to visit the church is during the feast of St. Alphonsa from 19 to 28 July every year.

Gallery:

Kumarakom holiday destination

Kumarakom is a beautiful place with lagoons, coconut groves, birds and aquatic life. This place is in Kottayam district of Kerala and lies at 9°35′0″N 76°26′0″E. Kumarakom is a developed tourist area with lots of resorts, including those offer ayurvedic treatments, built in Kerala style of architecture. It is a calm and peaceful place where you can enjoy the beauty of Kerala backwaters and taste Kerala cuisines like shrimp, fish curry and more.

Places to visit in Kumarakom:

1. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary:

It is situated on the banks of the ‘Vembanad Kayal’ and is almost 12 kilometers from Kottayam town. It is spread over 14 acres of marshy land. This bird sanctuary is home for hundreds of species of birds including migratory birds from The Himalayas and Siberia. The best season to visit the sanctuary is from November to March. Visitors will have to walk through the sanctuary as vehicles are not allowed.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

2. Kumarakom House Boats:

The backwater cruises are a wonderful attraction to tourists. You can cruise lazily on the waves of the ‘Vanbanad Kayal’ in a houseboat. When you plan a house boat trip try to make it for a day and night. You will have to book the boats in advance and they will take you through all the major backwaters of Kerala.  More details regarding these backwater cruises is given in our Kerala Backwaters section. It is a MUST NOT MISS experience for your Kerala holidays.

Kumarakom House Boat
Kumarakom House Boat

3. Pathiramanal:

It is a small island on the ‘Vembanad Kayal’. The name ‘Pathiramanal’ means ‘sands of night’. You can enjoy the spectacular view of the lake from here.

4. Kumarakom Boat Race:

This event happens every year on September during onam. This event is held as a part of ‘Sree Narayana Guru Jayanthi’, the birthday celebrations of the hindu saint ‘Sree Narayana Guru’ in ancient India. Hundreds of oarsmen on different kinds of boats like snake boats and iruttukuthi participate in this event to win the ‘Sree Narayana ever rolling trophy’.

Kumarakom Boat Race
Kumarakom Boat Race

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Vagamon

Vagamon is a beautiful hill station in Kottayam and is one of the must see places in Kerala. It is a relatively unexplored tourist destination. The place is known for its beautiful green hills, pine forest, tea plantations, Indo-Swiss dairy farm project and cool climate. The place is situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level at the border of Kottayam and Idukki districts. According to National Geographic traveler it is one of the top 50 places to be visited in India.

Vagamon is an emerging International destination for Paragliding in South India. This sporting event is conducted every year at ‘Kolahalamedu’ in Vagamon. As the time of the event varies each year it is better to check it before you plan your trip.

Vagamon paragliding
Vagamon paragliding

Places to visit in Vagamon:

1. The pine forest:

The pine forest is near ‘Kolahalamedu’. It covers a vast area of sloppy hills without any other single type tree. Sometimes it is like watching a black and brown movie because all the colors in this pine tree orchard are either black or brown. There is a good hotel very near to the entrance of the orchard where you can stay the night.

Pine forest Vagamon
Pine forest Vagamon

2. Kurisumala (Hill of cross):

The Kurisumala hill, with a church at the top,  is located about 5 kilometers from Vagamon town. It is an important pilgrim center for Christians. With 14 crosses the ‘way of the cross’ path attracts thousands of visitors each year during ‘Good Friday’.

3. Kurisumala Diary Farm:

It is an Indo-Swiss dairy project under the monks of Kurisumala monastery. The monks here follow a blend of Christian faith, Indian spiritual thoughts and Gandhian thoughts. The farm consists of different breeds of cows from Indian varieties to the Brown Swiss cow. The place is open to visitors. It is near the Kurisumala church.

4. Hills of Kolahalamedu:

The term ‘Kolahalamedu’ means ‘meadow of sound’. It got its name because of the constant sound made by the wind. There is suicide point (Don’t jump, it’s really deeep.) which offers a bird’s eye view of acres of land infront. During the evenings the place is mostly covered in mist which increases the beauty of the place. However it is advised to return before 6.15pm especially during the months Nov-February, because you may not find your way back due to mist.

How to Reach Vagamon:

  • Vagamon is 29 kilometers from Bharananganam, a Christian pilgrim center which is where the tomb of St. Alphonsa is located.
  • Nearest railway station is kottayam which is 65 kilometers away.
  • The nearest airport is Cochin International airport which is 109 kilometers away.
  • Munnar, another must see destinations in Kerala, is 143 kilometers from Vagamon. There is another route connecting those two places through Kuttikkanam and elappara which is 163 kilometers. If you want to enjoy your ride select the latter.

Road Map to Vagamon

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&doflg=ptk&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=111347806645105054812.0004975e91ed847029152&ll=9.807857,76.950989&spn=0.626536,1.186523&z=10

Kottayam-The land of letters, latex and lakes

Kottayam is known by the title: “The land of letters, latex and lakes” because of its importance in education, latex and backwaters. It is a diversified landscape with lakes, rivers, paddy fields, mountains and rocks. Kottayam is at the central part of Kerala also called as ‘Madhya Keralam’ in Malayalam. It is one of the few places in the world blessed by the presence of both hill stations and backwaters. A major portion of the backwaters, a major attraction of tourists to Kerala, lies on the west of Kottayam while famous hill stations like Vagamon lies on the east.

Kottayam is called ‘Akshara Nagari’ which means ‘City of letters’ because of its rich contribution to press and media. The head quarters of most of the print and media are located in this district of Kerala. It is also the major educational center of Kerala and it is the first place in India to win 100% literacy. The first college in the state, which is the second college established by the British empire in India, is in Kottayam (CMS College).

Religion and pilgrimage centers:
Christianity, Hinduism and Islamism are the three religions practiced by people of Kottayam. The majority of the people are Christians while the second majority is hindus.

Kottayam is a well known Christian pilgrimage center in India. The tomb of St. Alphonsa, the only saint from India till date, is in ‘Bharananganam’ in Kottayam. It also houses the famous ‘Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple’ , an ancient and important shiva temple in Kerala.

Kerala also houses many minor hindu and Christian pilgrimage centers like Kidangoor temple, kadappattor temple, Vaikom Temple, Manarkadu Church, Arthunkal church etc.

Climate and Crops:
Like every part of Kerala, Kottayam experience tropical climate with an average rainfall of 3500mm per year. The monsoon season ie, the rainy season starts from June and ends by the middle of November. The warmest months are March, April and May with temperatures ranging from 33- 40 degree Celsius.

The main cultivation in Kottayam is Rubber. It is the major latex production center in India. The other crops of Kottayam are paddy and coconut.

Major Centers of attraction:
The major tourism centers in Kottayam are:
Kumarakom
Pathiramanal island
Vagamon
Vembanattu Kayal (Backwaters)
St. Alphonsa Tomb Bharananganam