In the past Kottayam was the seat firest of the Munjunad Rajas and later, in the 12th century, of the Tekkumkur Rajas. This fact of royal history is echoed in the town's name, which is derived from the Malayalam work kottayakam, which means the inside of a fort.
Kottayam is also an important commercial centre, thanks to its strength as a producer of cash crops. Most of India's natural rubber originates from the acres of well-kept plantations of Kottayam, also home to the Rubber Board, one of the country's primary commodities board.
As the headquarters of several ecclesiastical heads of Christian churches like those of the Syrian Christian community, Kottayam is proof of the cultural and religious plurality of Kerala. Today, as reminders of this facet can be found ancient churches like the Valia Palli, the Cheria Palli (1579) and the St. Mary's Church at Manarcad (1585).
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