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Kottayam District

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About the Kottayam district

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Brief About Kottayam District
Kottayam literally means the interior of a fort Kotta+Akam. Rulers of Munjanad and Thekkumkur had their head quarters at Thazhathangadi in the present Kottayam town. Marthanda Varma of Travancore attacked Thekkumkur and destroyed the palace and the Thaliyil fort. The remnants of palaces and forts are still seen here.

The present Kottayam district was previously a part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Earlier, the Travancore State consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a 'Diwan Peshkar' for each. Later in 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. The fifth division Devikulam came next but for a short period, which in course of time, was added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin (Kochi) in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars gave way to District Collectors, making the birth of the Kottayam District in July 1949.

The beginning of the ninth Century A.D is the age of the Kula- sekharas. At that time, Kottayam was a part of the Vempolinad, which belonged to the Kulasekhara Empire (1090 - 1102 A.D.). The Vembanad lake itself derives its name from Vempolinad.The Kingdom of Vempolinad split itself into the Kingdom of Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur by about 1100 A.D. and later these two kingdoms were annexed by Marthanda- Varma of Travancore between 1749 and1754. The Portuguese and the Dutch had their business relations with both Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur Kingdoms, pepper and other spices being the main attractions. In addition to Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur, Marthanda Varma brought two more small principalities in Kottayam under his control - Poonjar and Meenachil.

After Marthanda Varma Dharma Raja (1758-1798) placed Kottayam in a key position in the new defence strategy against Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan of Mysore. Apart from this, Kottayam afforded asylum to a number of refugee princes who left Malabar in the wake of Mysore invasions.

Kottayam occupied a predominant position in the cultural life of the Travancore princely court,the main reason being migration of Ramapurathu Warrier, the famous poet of Vadakkumkur to Thiruvananthapuram following the annexation of Kottayam by Marthanda Varma.

Kottayam has played its role in all the political agitations of modern times. The 'Malayali Memorial' agitation may be said to have had its origin in Kottayam. The Malayali Memorial sought to secure better representation for educated Travancoreans in the Travancore civil service against persons from outside. The Memorial, which was presented to the Maharaja Sri Mulam Thirunal (1891) was drafted at a public meeting held in the Kottayam Public Library. The event marked the beginning of the modern political movement in the state.

It was here that the famous Vaikom Satyagraha (1924 -25) an epic struggle for eradication of untouchability, took place. Scheduled castes and other backward classes in Travancore were not only denied entry into temples, but also access to temple roads. Vaikom, the seat of a celebrated Siva Temple, was the venue of the symbolic satyagraha. It is of immense historic significance that national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and E.V. Ramswami Naykar, associated with the struggle.

The Nivarthana agitation of the early thirties, to secure adequate representation for the non-caste Hindus, Christians and Muslims in the State Legislature, enjoyed considerable support from the district.

The district was also a centre of the agitation led by the State Congress for responsible Government in Travancore. The agitation had a triumphant end, with the overthrow of Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, the then Dewan of Travancore.

At A Glance
Kottayam district has a total area of 2208 sq. km. lying a little south to central Kerala, the district is bordered on the north by Ernakulam, on the east by Idukki and on the south by Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts. The Vembanad lake forms the western boundary. The district is naturally divided into high land, mid land and low land, the bulk being constituted by the mid land regions. Meenachil and Kanjirappally taluks have high land and mid land areas while Kottayam, Changanassery and Vaikkom taluks have mid land and low land areas. Kanjirappally and Meenachil taluks have laterite soil, where as Vaikom taluk and part of Changanassery and Kottayam taluks have aluvial soil. The district has no coastal area. Kottayam lies between Latitude 90 15' and 100 21' and Longitude 760 22' and 770 25'.

Classification of Geographical area (1998-99, in Hec.). Total 219550, forests 8141, land put to non agricultural uses 23077, barren and uncultivable land 1376, permanent pastural and other grazing land two, land under tree crops 129, cultivable waste 1874, fallow other than current fallow 2625, current fallow 4924, net area sown 177409, area sown more than once 39382, total cropped area 216784.

The district has a tropical climate with an oppressive hot season in the plains and plenty of rain fall through out. The hot season from March to May, is followed by the south west monsoon from June to September. October and November constitute the post-monsoon or retreating monsoon season, when day temperature increases gradually and the heat is nearly as in summer. December to February forms the north east monsoon. Rain cease early in January. The district normally gets an annual average rain fall of 3130.33 mm.

The important rivers of the district are the Meenachil, the Muvattupuzha and the Manimala. The 78 kms. long Meenachil river flows through the taluks of Meenachil, Vaikom and Kottayam. It has a catchment area of 1272 Sq.km. and utilisable water resource of 1110 Cubic mm. The river is formed by several streams originating from the Western Ghats in Idukki district. At Erattupetta, Poonjar river also joins it, takes a sharp turn and flows towards the west. At Kondur, it is joined by the Chittar and at Lalam, it receives the Payapparathodu and flows in a south-west direction till it reaches Kottayam. Here, it branches into several streams before emptying into the Vembanad lake. The important towns in the basin are Pala, Poonjar, Ettumanoor and Kottayam. Meenachil Medium Irrigation project is having a net ayacut of 9960 hectares, 155 sq.km. catchment area and a water spread area of 228 hectares.

The Muvattupuzha river originates from Ernakulam district, flows through Vaikom taluk and empties into the Vembanad lake. The most important town in the basin is Vaikom, the famous pilgrim centre.

The Manimala river flows through Kanjirappally and Changanassery taluks. The Chittar joins it on its course further down the west as it flows to Alappuzha district. The important town in the basin is Mundakkayam.