A rather unexplored spot in Kerala, Pathanamthitta is every traveller’s delight. While it is primarily known as the pilgrimage capital of Kerala courtesy of the many religious monuments dotting its landscape, there’s tons to see and do around here that’ll give you an insight into its rich cultural heritage.

Among all the religious monuments here – Parumala Pally, Mylapra Valiyapally, Chandanapally Valiyapally (one of the biggest churches in South India) and Sreevallabha Temple are worth visiting. If there is extra time in hand, a visit to the 8th-century Thrikkakkudi Rock Cut Temple in Kaviyoor is highly recommended. Built in the Pallava style of architecture, the temple enshrines an idol of Lord Shiva as its main deity.

For the wildlife enthusiast, a visit to the largest national park – Periyar National Park – is a must. A repository of rare, endemic and endangered wildlife, Periyar is also home to many tribal settlements. From safaris to interacting with the tribal locals, a trip to Periyar is often a fulfilling experience for every traveller.

If you want an immersive rural experience, you can head to the sleepy village of Gavi. From attractions such as Neer Veezhcha Falls and Sabarimala View Point to adventure activities like trekking and camping, Gavi is a treat to visit.

For a unique and grand culture event, coincide your trip with the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali, a snake boat race held between August and September. The entire stretch of Pamba river becomes the venue of this annual cultural fiesta.

One of the most interesting highlights of Pathanamthitta is the art of metal mirror – not practised anywhere else in the world. Known as Aranmula Kannadi, it is a handmade metal alloy mirror created with a mixture of copper and tin; the alloy polished by hand for days on end to achieve that flawless reflection.