Once I was through with Kochi, I tried to move and explore more of Kerala. But I did not plan my trip this time and let it take me, with a flow. I opened the map and tried to mark places that I could visit, as I had more time and was done hovering around in Fort Kochi. I marked a few spots here and there and figured out Kottayam is my next destination. Although the place does not have much to see but it sure is a sweet spot for a number of day trips in the same region. This sort of made it my base for the next few days.
With a bus ride something short of 100 kilometers, I was in Kottayam looking for a hostel, dormitories and cheap hotels here. I was lucky to find a good looking comfortable place with only 5 minutes walking distance from the bus station. That’s exactly what I needed, save time and make the most of my trip. I reached here by noon; this would have been a day wasted if I planned to go any further. So as a wise man I dropped my bag at the hotel, rested for an hour and tried to look for nearby places to see, eat and plan for the days to come.
As I moved out; I realized the city is not that big, its neither a big metropolitan place, nor is it so small to be termed as not well civilized and urban. It offers a unique vantage point with simple life and down to earth people. As a local put it, ‘the world seems to have bypassed Kottayam. Chiefly known for its lakes, letters and latex, an undoubtedly unusual combination, Kottayam, in fact, is a land of many accomplishments.
Kottayam was the first place in Kerala to have a printing press installed by a British person, which gave it the edge on education. Even today more than 80 percent of books printed out of Kerala are printed here. This was the very reason of high literacy rate in Kerala, which made it the first town even in Kerala to achieve a 100 percent literacy rate back in 90’s which is a tremendous feat.
I had a meal of Malabar biryani and inquired about places to visit, everyone pointed at Vembanad lake for the backwaters experience but I ruled it out, in exchange of Alleppey, which is a much better place for backwater experience. The next morning destination was set as Kumarakom bird sanctuary and I had to wake up early for this one, so I made my way to the bed for a good night sleep.
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” – Mohammed s.a.w.