01 Aug

Kottayam – The city of Letters & Literacy

The city of Letters, Kottayam is a municipal town in the Indian state of Kerala, which is the administrative capital of Kottayam district. Kottayam municipality was established in 1924. The name ‘Kottayam’ is derived from two Malayalam words, “Kotta” + “Akam”, which means ‘Inside the fort’. “Akshara Nagari” means, The City of letters.

Kottayam is famous for 3 L ’s:-

City of Literature and Literacy

Kottayam is the first town in India to attain 100% literacy in 1989. Therefor, Kottayam is a well-known place for education from history time. So Kottayam is known as “Akshara Nagari” and City of Mural paintings also. The first college in India i.e., CMS College was started by the Church Mission Society in 1817, with the help of Travancore Kingdom.

CMS college old building

CMS college old building

City of Latex

Kottayam produces the largest quantity of natural rubber in India. Rubber board (Central Government Organizations ) headquarters is located in Kottayam town.

City of Lakes

Vembanad lake and Kuttanad paddy fields are sharing space with Kottayam. Many river types of waterways are available in Kottayam area.

City of Letters (Akshara Nagari)

Mahatma Gandhi University Kottayam - The City of letters

Mahatma Gandhi University Kottayam

Kottayam is a well-known place for literacy, education, and literature from many decades. Many first Malayalam dailies started publishing from Kottayam. Some famous and old publication companies have headquarters in Kottayam town. Kerala state’s 75% of publications are produced from Kottayam. Print and publishing ratio of Kottayam is very high in India. Many literature associations started here. Hence Kottayam is known as “Akshara Nagari”.

Eco City

Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India selected Kottayam as the first town in India to be transformed as an Eco-City in 2014.

City of Mural paintings (Chuvar Chitra Nagari)

Planned by the authorities of Kottayam and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi. Many artists did initiative from India and outside of India.


Present Kottayam town area was headquarters of Munjanad and Thekkumkoor rulers. Travancore kingdom attacked Thekkumkoor when Marthanda Varma Maharaja was ruling Travancore. Travancore military destroyed the palace and the fort [ Thaliyil fort ]. The Kottayam district court at Kottayam municipality was established in 1910 during the period of Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore. Mahatma Gandhi visited Kottayam in 1936 related to his freedom fighting speech. That ground is there in heart of Kottayam urban area, Thirunakkara Maithanam (Thirunakkara ground). Mahatma Gandhi statue also there in the memory of his visit to Kottayam.

Kottayam - Thirunakkara Maithanam

Thirunakkara ground. Mahatma Gandhi statue in the memory of his visit

Miscellaneous points about the City of Letters:

  • Kottayam Public Library is the second largest public Library in Kerala, which is established in 1882. It is the first Library to be established and run by the public in Kerala. There are more than 1.5 lakh books in this Library. This is also one of the reason for Kottayam, The city of letters.
  • The Plantation Corporation of Kerala has its headquarters at Kottayam. Kottayam have priority for the traditional type of spices like black pepper. So it is an important trading center for spices from many centuries. Kottayam have a history of direct trading of spices with Dutch and Portuguese traders.
  • Nearest railway station: Kottayam railway station [ KTYM ], which is locating in the main area of Kottayam municipality. It is a major station in that region. Kottayam is the main gateway for Sabarimala pilgrimage. It has stop for long distance trains connecting most major cities in India. Chingavanam railway station is locating in the south of the Kottayam town railway station, which is a major goods station.
  • Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport is about 91 km from Kottayam.  The upcoming 5th international airport in Kerala state, Sabari international airport will be 44 km distance from Kottayam municipality.
  • Kottayam Port: India’s first inland Port is locating in Kottayam municipality.
  • In 2008, Kottayam became the first tobacco free district in India.
  • 15th ward of Aymanam panchayath in Kottayam is India’s first digitalized panchayat ward.
  • Upcoming Sabari international airport is a State and Central Government plan to build an airport near Sabarimala temple, in Kottayam. Aviation ministry estimated just six months to complete the airport.

Facts about literature & publishing:

  • Famous companies from Kottayam: Kottayam is the hometown of big publishing companies like, DC Books, Current Books, NBS (National Book Stall), Labour India Publications etc., 8+ major daily newspapers are publishing from Kottayam including 30+ weekly, monthly publications, and Rubber based companies like, MRF Ltd. (Madras Rubber Factory) tyres plant also in Kottayam.
  • CMS Press: The first printing press in Kerala, was established in 1821. The first printed Newspaper “Njananikshepam” published in Kerala. That printed and published from 1848 at CMS press Kottayam. The press is doing printing works in the languages of Malayalam, English, Tamil, Sanskrit, Latin, and Syriac.
  • DC Books: First publishing company in India, which got ISO certification for publishing books. Headquarters in Kottayam municipality.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi University ( MG-University ) is based in Kottayam.
  • Deepika: is one of the oldest newspapers published in India, which started publishing in 1887 from Kottayam. It is the oldest Malayalam daily newspaper which is currently also in circulation. First Malayalam newspapers to go online. It is still the largest Indian online newspaper.
  • Malayala Manorama Company Limited: Founded at Kottayam in 1888. Started publishing in 1890 from Kottayam. It’s the third largest circulating newspapers in India. In 2011, it was the 5th most circulated newspaper in the world. Malayala Manorama is the only non-English and non-Hindi daily newspaper in India to cross 1.5 million copies in circulation.

Notable persons from Kottayam:-

  • K.R Narayanan. Ex-president of India. First person from Kerala state who got selection as Indian president.
  • E. C. G. Sudarshan ( Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan ) was India’s best known theoretical physicist and a professor at the University of Texas. His  Quantum theory for tachyons challenged Albert Einstein’s theory. Sudarshan was passed over for the Physics Nobel Prize on more than one occasion. He got Padma Vibhushan & Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.
  • Santhosh George Kulangara: is the founder and chief explorer of Safari TV, the first and only exploration channel in India. He’s the first Indian space tourist. His program Sancharam has entered into the Limca Book of Records for being a visual travelogue prepared by a person traveling solo to various nations, more than 100 & all continents.
  • Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam (IAS): is currently serving as the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism.
  • Kummanam Rajasekharan: is an Indian politician and the Ex: Governor of Indian state Mizoram.
  • Kottarathil Sankunni: author of Aithihyamala (Garland of Legends).
  • Arundhati Roy: Indian-English novelist is a native of Kottayam. Her Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things contains her childhood experiences in Kottayam area.
  • Jayaraj is an Indian filmmaker, who have done many works in Malayalam film industry. He got 5 International awards, 8 National Film Awards & 5 Kerala State Film Awards.
  • Kottayam Pushpanath: He was a famous writer of crime thrillers.
  • Mammootty; is an Indian film actor and producer who works mainly in Malayalam film industry. He won three National Film Awards & five Kerala State Film Awards.
  • Parvathy Omanakuttan: crowned Miss India 2008 and first runner-up at Miss World 2008. She was also awarded the titles of Miss World Asia & Oceania at the Miss World 2008.

Quick Facts about Kottayam – The City of Letters:

Country: India
State: Kerala (The God’s own Country)
District: Kottayam
Coordinates: 9.5947087°N 76.4855729°E
Local languages: Malayalam, Tamil, and English
Sex ratio: 1075 female(s)/1000 male(s)
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport. [The upcoming, Sabari international airport will be just 44 km distance from Kottayam City.]
Nearest railway station: Kottayam railway station [ KTYM ]



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About Sanju

I’m Sanjunath.S from Mumbai, India. I like web technologies, traveling & history. I have 11+ years of experience in web technologies like HTML 5, CSS 3, JavaScript, Bootstrap, and PHP.

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