Pala

Situated on the banks of the Meenachil River, near the mountains, Pala is an archetypal small town, where almost everyone knows everybody else. The majority of the local population consists of Christians and with some f the oldest churches in the region situated here, much of the social activity revolves around the church. Pala is known for huge plantations and much of its prosperity comes from rubber, the main cash crop.

The Meenachil River flows through the town and empties into the Arabian Sea miles later, providing access to the coast and spurring on a thriving spice trade – the spice market was established as early as 1736.’Pala Pepper’, known for its superior quality, was popular in the international market.However, rubber late replaced pepper in importance. Pala is also the nerve centre of Christianity in Kerala – St.Thomas himself is said to have set up the St George Church in Aruvithura.

The town is an ideal starting point for heading out to popular tourist destinations such as Munnar, Vagamon and Thekkady, as well as to pilgrim centers such as Sabarimals,Bharananganam and Mannanam.

Sights

Shrine of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

A landmark structure, also called ‘Jubilee Kappela’, this shrine is constructed out of 14,444 granite stones and stands in the centre of town. A statue of Jesus Christ,12.5 ft high, stands on top of the shrine.

Valiapalli

Formally called ‘St Thomas Cathedral’ this was built in 1002.Destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 17th century, it was rebuilt in the next century, adopting the Portuguese style of architecture.

St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church, located at Bharananganam, is an important pilgrim centre as the remains of the Blessed Sister Alphonsa, who died in 1946, are buried here. The podium used by the Pope when he beatified Sister Alphonsa in 1986 still stands.

Kayyoor Temple

Kayyoor is a Ghat region blanketed by lush hilly vegetation. There is a small temple atop the hill near Bharananganam dedicated to the Pandavas,where only ghee is used to light the votive lamps.

St George Church

This 120 ft high structure is Erattupetta town has unique shape resembling a cross. The annual feast held in April draws hundreds of people

Poonjar Palace

Poonjar, near Erattupetta, was once the capital of the Poonjar Royal family from 1155 to 1800.Located in a serene environment, surrounded by the Meenachil River on three sides, it is known for its exquisite architectural beauty.

Ayyampara Hills

Flat granite rock formations scattered over almost 30 acres of land offer fabulous views of coconut plantations in the valley below. The innumerable tributaries of the Meenachil River, originating from Illikkal Mala, shimmer in the distance.

St Mary’s Forane Church

Built in 345 AD, this church is one of the oldest in Kerala, but has been rebuilt in 1960.A granite cross,48 ft in height, and carved out of a single stone, is the highlight. The statue of Virgin Mary on the main altar is a rare blend of Romano – Portuguese art. The three massive church bells and the replica of the vessel used by Prophet Jonah are also must sees.

Getting There

By Air: The nearest is Kochi international Airport about 96 km

By Rail: The nearest railhead is Ettumanoor 16 km

By Road: SH 31 connects Kottayam to Pala through Ettumanoor.From Kochi,it is 80 km through Thripunithura,Thalayolaparampu and Kaduthuruthy.

Where to stay

For details of hotels and resorts near Pala ,see accommodation listing on http://halokerala.com/hotels/kottayam/

HOW TO PLAN YOUR TOURS:

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