Cherthala Travel Guide

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Welcome to this small but beautiful coastal town - off the Arabian Sea (formerly spelled Shertallai), 36 km south of Kochi (Cochin) and 20 km north from Alappuzha (Alleppey). It is right along the National Highway 47 and well connected by Indian railways. It is also closer to 'Kumarakom bird sanctuary' and Kottayam (another district hub)and reachable by road (26 Km). Its western boundary is the sea coast with magnificent beaches at Arthinkal and Thaickal- just 4 km drive from downtown Cherthala. The eastern border embraces the serene backwaters of Lake Vembanad (Vembanad Kayal) 5 km east of the town. It has the best silica sands in Asia- known as 'sugar sands', similar to that of Hawaii (USA).

Cherthala is a stretch of land believed to have emerged from the sea like many other coastal towns. There are severals proofs which supports this like,excavation of an ancient ship ruins in Thaickal (a suburb) but the carbon dating dates it beyond 1000 AD which lies more than  2 km inside from sea coast,and also  sea shells are found underground even upto 4 kms inside from coast,which also is a solid proof regarding this.

Though there are several myths about the origin of the name, history and logic says Karappuram - the former name -  a portion of land was donated by Cochin state to Travancore for an agreement to protect the former from the threat of Tippu Sultan, an invading King of Mysore. So, the 'added edge of land' (chertha thala in the native language) became known as Cherthala.

According to another legend, the place was known as Karappuram. Once Vilwamangalath Swamiar (a pundit ?) was on his way from Trivandrum reached Karappuram. He saw a beautiful lady with her friends enjoying on an "Oonjal"  (swing).  The Pundit  with his divine power came to know that it was a "DEVI" (Godess).  After hiding and jumping into seven ponds the DEVI jumped in to an eighth pond with mud (cheru) and the Pundit captured her holding by head. The Pundit installed the DEVI as a diety in that pond.  Thus the place began to known as Cher-thala, means head (thala) installed in mud. 

Cherthala is well connected by rail as well (a major hub on the Alleppey-Ernakulam coastal line) with direct connection to major cities in India and also by waterways to adjacent towns Vaikom, Kumarakom- the bird sanctuary and an ultimate backwater tourism destination of India. You will have to pass a two km long levee (called bund) by road built on it at Thanneermukkom across lake Vembanad to reach Kumarakom. This levee constructed to restrict saline water to the paddy fields of Kuttanad is a landmark and a proven example of using appropriate technology in local development with total participation of people. You would enjoy the backwaters, riding an Eco friendly house boat (an improvised Kettuvallam) or the sugar sand beaches with a comfortable accommodation in thatched hutments with  local delicacies 'Karimeen (a refined lake fish) and Toddy-the country liquor tapped from coconut trees.

The people are friendly, religious and at the same time, politically conscious as well. The Muttom Church (St.Mary's Forane Church)  that boasts of a heritage of more than 1000 years (look for the unique wood carvings, sculptures and paintings),  Arthinkal pilgrim sanctuary built by the Portuguese, the Devi Temple at Cherthala town, Vayalar martyr's memorial, a number of hi-tech designer Coir mats manufacturing units are all land marks of this small county.

It is notable that 112 men from this village took part in the World War II - and there is a dedicated War Memorial that demonstrates the patriotic spirit and heritage of Cherthalites.

St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ reached Cherthala as well just 19 years after the crucifixion and established a church in Kokkothamangalam (one of the well known 'Seven and a half Churches') here. Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, the founder Acharya of Santhigiri, hails from Cherthala. Itti Achyuthan Vaidyar of Thaickal here has originally prepared the legendary botanical bible "Hortus Malabaricus"  (published in 1678) for Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede, the Dutch Governor of the former princely state of Cochin between 1670 and 1677.

Another mysterious, historical piece of evidence of human skill and technology in which Cherthala is the centre piece is the recent discovery of ancient ship ruins excavated in Thaickal (a suburb); the ship-building technology is far superior from that of Europeans or Arabs but the carbon dating dates it beyond 1000 AD!

Cherthala is the homeland of several stalwarts in the Indian Politics. A.K.ANTONY, the new Defence Minister of India and an uncorrupted three times Chief Minister of Kerala and Vayalar Ravi, minister responsible for non resident Indian affairs in the federal government  are the proud sons of this land.  K R Gauri, former minister and a veteran communist leader, Vellappalli Natesan (Gen. Secretary of SNDP yogam), S. D. Shibulal, founder director of Infosys (the second richest Keralite/Malayalee), Vayalar Ramavarma, the late lyrist, S L Puram Sadanandan (late communist and Cine-Drama writer) and ace cine actor Rajan P. Dev etal hail from Cherthala and its suburbs. 

This ever green stretch of land full of coconut trees, is in the forefront both academically and culturally.  There are 6 Colleges offering University level education including engineering and nursing fields, a poly technique and several ace higher secondary and  high schools. There are a number of high quality health care delivery facilities each having 100 to 200 beds capacity in this locality.

If you are overwhelmed by the lush green palm fringed coastal geography, you will definitely enjoy the good food too.  Class Hotels available - Marari beach resort of Casino group and various backwater resorts need advance reservations. For Food and beer, look for Hotel Karthiyayini...Hotel Travancore Palace and Hotel Cherthala House.

You can reach Cherthala by state buses or by train from Trivandrum or Cochin. Get off at Cherthala and hire a cab or a pre-arranged taxi to one of the coasts. You can join a boat ride to Kumarakom. Please avoid over crowded boats and check for safety precautions before you board. If you are lucky, you will find a friendly knowledgeable local guide. Pre arranged paying guest accommodation is also available.(Check the web). 

For more info on Cherthala you can visit Wikipedia-

Other highlights interesting for visitors, a planned tour of the many world class coir and natural fiber products manufacturing  and export  units like Palm Fibre, Travancore Mats -TMMC, Koncherry Coir, Software, web development and exporting companies, iFactor Solutions etc.

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: Rahuls


May 14, 2006 change by cherthala (2 points)

October 31, 2006 change by giorgio

March 13, 2007 change by jovanova

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