se/house boats. A small island called Pathiramanal (Midnight Sands, accessible only by boat) in the Vembanad lake is a major tourist attraction.
In the festive months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam are turned into festival centres. The serene lakes come alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races where oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. In the Kumarakom boat race conducted at Kavanar and Kottathodu rivers, about 50 types of boats including veppu, ody and churulan boats participate.
Thekkady (Periyar Tiger Reserve) is 104 km (3-4 hours by bus/car)away from Kottayam in Idukki District. Kottayam is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers of Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor,Thirunakkara Bharananganam, Erumeli, Manarcaud, Athirampuzha, kuravilangadu and kidangoor so on. Kottayam town is linked by rail and waterways. There is a helipad near the Kottayam collectorate. The nearest airport is 85 Km away at Kochi (Nedumbassery).
Kottayam is the first town in India selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to be transformed as an Eco City.