The smallest of
Kerala districts, situated in the southern
region of Kerala, Pathanamthitta has nearly half of its total area under
forest cover. It is the pilgrim center of Kerala, renowned for the
shrine of Lord Ayappa in the Sabari Hills, drawing millions of devotees
from near and far off places. The district also is known as a center for
experiencing and learning some of the cultural as well as traditional
practices of Kerala. Kollam, Kottayam and Alappuzha form the adjoining
districts of Pathanamthitta.
Mannadi (13 km from Adoor): This is where
Veluthampi Dalawa, the renowned freedom fighter of Travancore, spent his
last days. The ancient Bhagavathy Temple here has some exquisite stone
sculptures. The annual festival is held in February/March. The Kerala
Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts functions here.
Niranam (7 km from Thiruvalla): The oldest
Christian church in India, believed to be built by the apostle St.
Thomas in AD 52, is situated at Niranam. This is also the birth place of
the poets and social reformers popularly known as the Karnassa Kavikal.
The St. Thomas art gallery here has been built by an Ecumenical body
known as Niranam Thomathu Kadavu Smaraka Trust.
Rock Cut Cave Temple: The rock cut Siva
Temple, half a kilometre away, is of great archaeological significance.
Dating back to the 8th century AD, this temple bears close resemblance
to the Pallava style of architecture. The stone engravings here are
among the earliest specimens of stone sculpture in Kerala.
Manjanikara Church: Mar Ignatius Elias III,
the holy patriot of Anthiod while on a visit to India, died at this
place in 1932. His mortal remains are preserved at this church. Later
this place developed into a pilgrim centre. The annual festival
(Ormaperunnal) is held in February.