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Pathanamthitta: The Holy Land

Tours to Pathanamthitta, Kerala

More than half of Pathanamthitta is forest area and can easily be remembered because it has Kerala's best-known pilgrimage destination, Sabarimala. The shrine at Sabarimala, which attracts thousands of pilgrims between November and January each year, is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The shrine cannot be reached by road and the last five kilometers have to be trekked from Pamba. Women between the ages of 14 and 40 years are not allowed to visit the shrine which is meant only for Hindus.

There is a small town on the banks of the river Pamba, 10 km from Chengannur on the Trivandrum-Kottayam route known as Aranmula. While you are there, pick up an 'Aranmula Kannadi' or Aranmula mirror. The speciality of the expensive mirror is that it is not made of glass but hand-polished metal. The town also holds boat races during Onam in August/September.

Pathanamthitta is equally famous for Christians. Every February, at Kozhencherry, 13 km from Pathanamthitta, the annual Maramon Convention is held. Known as Asia's largest gathering of Christians from the Marthoma Christian faith, the convention on the Pamba river bed literally attracts thousands of people. Nearby at Niranam, there is the oldest Christian church, believed to have been built by the St. Thomas in 52 A.D.

If you are interested in Kerala's art forms, the must-see place is the Vijana Kala Vedi Cultural Centre, founded by Louba Schild, a French scholar under the Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme. The centre offers residential training courses in Kerala's traditional arts and crafts like Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu, wood carving, etc.

Reaching Pathanamthitta: The nearest airport is Cochin, 152 km away. Trivandrum airport is 236 km away and has to be reached via Kottayam, 76 km away. The town is linked by motorable roads to other towns of the state.