Cricket, basketball and football are among the most popular sports in Kottayam. Kottayam is also famous for athletics, as the place has produced several athletes who represented India in various international tournaments. Nehru stadium, which is Kottayam's main stadium is located at the entrance of the town. A number of popular basketball tournaments including the Marian Trophy, Girideepam Trophy, Lourdes Trophy and Virginia Memorial Tournament are conducted every year. A municipal park is located by Sastri road. There are also restaurants that cater to Kerala, Tamil and Northern cuisines.
Kumarakom, the major backwater tourism destination on the outskirts of the city, has several luxury hotels and resorts including ones from reputed hotel chains like Taj, Zuri & Casino. There are several movie halls which screen Malayalam, English, Tamil and Hindi movies. Kottayam have 7 theaters where movies are released periodically. They are Abhilash, Anupama, Anaswara, Anand cinemax,dhanya,ramya and Asha. Recently Anand Theatre is awarded the best theatre in the state. Most of these theaters lie close to the K. S. R. T. C bus stand apart from Anaswara which is closer towards Thirunakkara bus stand (Private Bus Stand). Dhanya and Remya are the two newly built theatres which started working from 2011 onwards. Religion The population in Kottayam practices Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Reflecting the religious constitution of the population, a large number of Hindu temples and Christian churches dot the townscape. Some of them are the Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple, Kumaranalloor Devi temple, Manarcad Palli Valiya Palli, Cheriya Palli, Marthoma Palli, Puthuppally Palli, and Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple, at the heart of the town, is a Shiva temple built in the Kerala style of temple architecture, with interior murals depicting themes from the Hindu epics. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by the then Raja of Thekkumkur. The annual temple festival that culminates in a ceremony called the Aaraattu, attracts large number of devotees. The other famous temples include the Ettumanoor and Vaikom temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and a temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi at Panachikkad(also known as Dakshina-Mookaambika).
All these temples are rich in lore and festivities and attract a large number of pilgrims from all over the country. Kumaranalloor Devi temple, located near the banks of Meenachil River is famous for its cultural heritage. The sreekovil is beautifully illustrated with Mural Paintings. Karthika, the birth star of Devi is celebrated in the ninth day of the 10 Day long temple festival attracts lot of pilgrims from all over the country. Kumaranallor and nearby place Kudamaloor is also famous in the name of artists.
Great Kathakali artists like Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair, Kuroor Vasudevan Nampoothiry (Vesham), Mathoor Govindankutty, Kuroor Cheriya Vasudevan Nampoothiry (Chenda), famous flute maestro Kudamaloor Janardhanan etc. to name a few. Kottayam is a major center for Syrian Christians in Kerala. Syrian Christians include Syro-Malabar Catholic, Syro-Malankara Catholic, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (Jacobite), Malankara Orthodox, Marthoma, Knanaya, and a few members of theCSI Madhya Kerala Diocese. St. Mary's Church, the Valia Palli (the Big Church) was built in 1550 by Knanaya Syrian Christians who immigrated fromWest Asia, and is considered the first Christian church in Kottayam town. This church is famous for its two Persian crosses made of granite. There are rare antique carvings and mural paintings behind the main altar and on the ceiling of the church. Another St. Mary's Church known as Cheria Palli (the Little Church), belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church was built in 1579 by the Raja of Thekkumkur for his Christian subjects.
These churches feature temple architectural influences. The interior murals, painted using vegetable dyes, depict Biblical themes. Kottayam is the headquarters of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Mar Thoma Theological Seminary of Marthoma Syrian Christians is functioning at Kottayam along with Marthoma School popularly known as MT School. Anglican Church of India headquarter is situated in Kurichi,near to Kottayam. The Syro-Malabar rite of the Catholic Church has an archeparchy based in Kottayam.
Some of the important Syrian Catholic churches in Kottayam include Christ the King Syro-Malabar Catholic Cathedral of Kottayam Knanaya Archdiocese and Lourde's Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church. Imprtant Latin Catholic churches are Good Shepherd Church and Vimalagiri Cathedral. Pope John Paul II visited Kottayam during his visit to India in 1986. In Kottayam he announced the beatification ofKuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Alphonsa, who hail from Kottayam district. St. Alphonsa, the first saint of India was born on 19 August 1910 in Kudamaloor and died on 28 July 1946 in Bharananganam. St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Kudamaloor where she was baptized and the St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Bharananganam where she is buried are pilgrim centers of large interest among Christians. St. George's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Edacatt is also an ancient church, established in 1822. It belongs to the Knanaya Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Kottayam. This was the Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Kottayam from 1887 to 1896 and from 1911 to 1944.
This church houses the mortal remains of the Servant of GodMar Mathew Makil and is a pilgrimage centre. However, the most famous Christian church in the district of Kottayam is St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Cathedral in Manarcad. It is known for its celebration of the ancient practice of the 8 Day Lent and the Feast of Virgin Mary's Birth between September 1 and 8 every year. During the days of the lent, hundreds of thousands of people from the far corners of the world reach Manarcad to seek the blessings of Virgin Mary.
Manarcad cathedral is one of the most important churches among the ancient churches of Malankara. It has stone inscriptions which were found to be memorial stones from tombs set up in 910 A. D. and 920 A. D. and this indicates that the church is almost a 1,000 years old. . There are 3 Ancient Anglican Churches in Manarkadu,Veloor,Kumarakom. Kottayam is the headquarters of the Diocese of Madhya Kerala of the Church of South India. The Diocese, which has the tradition of the CMS missionaries, runs several educational and social institutions like the CMS College and the C.
M. S. Press in Kottayam. The Diocesan Office and its Bishop's House is at Kottayam. The Holy Trinity CSI Cathedral of the Diocese is in Kottayam. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, situated in the banks of river Meenachil, in Kummanam, is one of the oldest mosques in India and is more than 1,000 years old, famous for its architectural beauty, and richness in wood carvings. This mosque was constructed by the followers of the Islamic prophet Muhammad during one of their first voyages to Kerala.