Kottayam is a city in the Indian state of Kerala, spread over an area of 55.40 km2 and is the administrative capital of Kottayam district. Kottayam is located in south-central Kerala and has a population of 172,878 according to the 2001 census. The city is approximately 150 km (93.2 mi) from the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The city is an important trading center of spices and commercial crops, especially rubber. Major Kerala print media such as Malayala Manorama, Deepika and Mangalam are headquartered in the town. Also a pioneering center of modern education in Kerala, the city became India's first city to achieve 100% literacy in 1989 and the district became the first tobacco free district in India on September 28, 2008. The city of Kottayam is also known as Akshara Nagari (അക്ഷര നഗരി) (City of Alphabets) in honor of its contributions to print media and literature. The educational heritage of Kottayam is synchronized with the services of C.M.S. Missionaries. They have started schools and colleges besides their churches for all classes of people. After Independence of India C.M.S. in India in known as C.S.I. (Church Of South India) and C.N.I. (Church of North India)
The kings of the independent little kingdom of Thekkumkoor ruled Kottayam from Thazhathangady till the mid-18th century. Later, Marthanda Varma, who was king of Travancore, annexed Thekkumcore and the surrounding areas of Kottayam to the Kingdom of Travancore. During the British rule of India, Kottayam continued to be ruled under the Princely State of Travancore. Slave trades prevailed at Thirunakkara, Kottayam in the 17th Century. Earlier, the state of Travancore consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a 'Diwan Peshkar' for each. Later, in 1868, Kottayam was also formed as a revenue division in Travancore. A fifth division, Devikulam existed for a short period but was then added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to District Collectors. Thus, in July 1949, Kottayam came into being as a district. Later, it became a part of the state of Kerala, and the headquarters of the district bearing the same name when the state was formed in 1957.
Kottayam has a place of honor on the cultural map of Kerala. The culture of Kottayam is influenced mainly by the large presence of the Syrian Christian community. The cuisine of Kottayam is the same as rest of Kerala, but with a distinct Syrian Christian influence seen in the use of cocunut and spices, as well as beef, pork and sea food Keralite Cuisine. Margamkali and Arjuna Nritham are popular dance forms. Margamkali and martial arts like Parichamuttukali, are popular among the Syrian Christian community. It is performed by men and women separately. In the past, it was performed during Syrian Christian weddings. Arjuna Nritham, also known as Mayilpeeli Thookkam is a popular dance form performed by men. Besides these, other South Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom, and Kuchipudi and classical Carnatic music are also practiced by a large number of young people. The Public Library in Kottayam is located at Sastri Road, which is a frequent happening place with art exhibitions.
Kottayam has produced many well-known writers, journalists and artists. Muttathu Varkey, a novelist and Pala Narayanan Nair, a poet, both have their footing in Kottayam. Kottayam Pushpanath, a writer of crime thrillers lives in Kottayam. The famous Indian-English novelist Arundhati Roy is a native of Kottayam and her semi-autobiographical Booker prize winning novel, The God of Small Things contains her childhood experiences in Aymanam, Kottayam.Cricket, basketball and football are among the most popular sports in Kottayam. Kottayam is also famous for athletics, as the place has produced several athletes who represented India in various international tournaments. Nehru stadium, which is Kottayam's main stadium is located at the entrance of the town. A number of popular basketball tournaments including the Marian Trophy, Girideepam Trophy, Lourdes Trophy and Virginia Memorial Tournament are conducted every year.
A municipal park is located by Sastri road. There are also restaurants that cater to Kerala, Tamil and Northern cuisines. Kumarakom, the major backwater tourism destination on the outskirts of the city, has several luxury hotels and resorts including ones from reputed hotel chains like Taj, Zuri & Casino. There are several movie halls which screen Malayalam, English, Tamil and Hindi movies. Kottayam have 7 theaters where movies are released periodically. They are Abhilash, Anupama, Anaswara, Anand cinemax,dhanya,ramya and Asha. Recently Anand Theatre is awarded the best theatre in the state. Most of these theaters lie close to the K.S.R.T.C bus stand apart from Anaswara which is closer towards Thirunakkara bus stand (Private Bus Stand). Dhanya and Remya are the two newly built theatres which started working from 2011 onwards.