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A quaint and lesser-known tourist destination, Pathanamthitta is an underrated spot in Kerala. Overshadowed by the more popular districts, such as Munnar and Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta will strike you with its hidden beauty. From housing one of the largest national parks in Kerala to being home to a secret technique of creating metal mirrors – the only one of its kind in the world, Pathanamthitta has a lot to offer to the discerning traveller.
Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (PNP) is a protected area of 925 km2 (357 sq.mi.) shared by the Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala. About 305 km2 (118 sq.mi.) of the core zone within it was declared the Periyar National Park in 1982. The park is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna. It is also the ultimate reservoir of many rich tribal settlements.
A sleepy little village that shot to fame through the Malayalam film, Ordinary, Gavi is a hidden beauty of the Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. In Gavi, there are fantastic options for off-road drives, trekking and camping. You can find information on these by enquiring locally. November to March is the best time to camp in the forests. Also, don’t forget to visit the Neer Veezhcha Falls and the Sabarimala View Point when in Gavi.
Pandalam Palace was the permanent residence of the Pandalam royal family, which holds a significant position in the history of Kerala. It is believed that the Pandalam kings descended from the Pandya kings of Madurai. Lord Ayyappa, one of the most adored gods of Malayali Hindus, is believed to have been born to the King of Pandalam.
Aranmula Vadakke Kottaram was built 200 years ago and is the halting place during the holy journey ‘Thiruvabharana Ghosha Yatra’, which involves a procession with the deity’s holy ornaments before the commencement of the annual festival at Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. The palace encompasses the typical Nalukettu architecture form that prevailed in Kerala at the time.
On the Uthrattathi asterism in the Malayalam month of Chingam (corresponding to August 15th to September 20th), the stretch of the holy Pamba River becomes the venue of the annual Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali (snake boat pageantry). This world-famous cultural fiesta re-enacts a historical event attributed to the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple and has remained a unique and grand tradition in Aranmula.
The Aranmula kannadi (mirror) is a handmade metal alloy mirror made in Aranmula. The metal alloy (the exact metals used remain a family secret) mirror or front surface reflection of the mirror eliminates secondary reflections and aberrations typical of conventional silvered glass mirrors. Metallurgical experts have said that it is created with a mixture of copper and tin, where the alloy is polished by hand for days together to achieve the flawless reflection.
Buy your metal mirror from Aranmula Kannadi, +91 99950 12551
The Thrikkakkudi Rock Cut Temple in Kaviyoor is believed to have been built in the 8th century. Its close resemblance to the Pallava style of architecture is what prompted historians to date it to a period as early as the 8th century CE. Enshrined in a square cave is the main deity, Lord Shiva, accompanied by Ganapathy, Maharshi and Dwarapalakas. The temple is under the archaeological department today.
Konni Aanakoodu, aka the Konni Elephant Reserve, was a well-known elephant training centre. Elephant capturing at Konni traces back to 1810 CE, but after the official ban on the capture of wild elephants in 1977, the training centre converted into an elephant welfare centre. Estranged and hurt calves are brought here and are provided proper medical care and are emotionally supported to ensure complete recuperation. Today, it also houses a museum worth visiting.
The Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department (KFWD), in partnership with the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), has launched the Adavi Eco-Tourism project. This innovative venture offers travellers options for adventure activities like coracle boating, white-water rafting, trekking and camping deep within the forests. Also, be sure to visit Thenmala Eco-Tourism.
Book your eco-tourism packages at the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department.
Pathanamthitta, being the pilgrimage capital of Kerala, has many important religious monuments worth visiting and religious festivals worth attending, apart from its popular tourist spots. The most important of these are Parumala Pally, Mylapra Valiyapally, Chandanapally Valiyapally, which is one of the biggest churches in South India, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Niranam, the Chandanakkudam Festival of the Jama – Al Mosque, the Sreevallabha Temple and the Perunthenaruvi Falls.