Aranmula, located in Pathanamthitta district, is a picturesque village on the idyllic banks of the river Pamba epitomizing all the positive attributes of rural Kerala. Declared as an international tourism destination by the Government of India, this place is the perfect gateway to the famous temple of Sabarimala visited by millions every year, and to the lush, green forests of western Kerala, especially Gavi which is hailed as the Kashmir of Kerala. The famous Maramon Convention, one of the biggest Christian gatherings in the world, is also held close to Aranmula. The village has excellent transport links to two of the major airports in Kerala (about 130 km from both Trivandrum and Cochin). The closest railway station is Chengannur, about 10 km away.
The temple at Aranmula is one of the most important Sri Krishna Temples in Kerala and is dedicated to Krishna in the form of ‘Parthasarathy,’ Arjuna’s charioteer in the battle of Kurukshetra in The Mahabharata. This ancient temple is one among the 108 shrines referred to in the hymns of Alwars as sacred to the Vaishnavites. Located on the banks of the holy river Pamba, the temple is also associated with the traditional water carnival, known as the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali or snake-boat race, held during the Onam festival (Aug.-Sept.). Legend has it that the idol which is worshipped at Aranmula was originally installed at Nilakkal near Sabarimala by Arjuna, the third of the Pandavas. The temples by the other Pandavas are all within a radius of less than 40 km from Aranmula.
The Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali is the oldest river carnival in Kerala. It is held during the festival of Onam (August-September). It takes place at Aranmula, near a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The traditional ‘Palliyodams’ or snake boats move in groups up and down the river to the rhythm of full-throated singing of traditional songs known as ‘Vallappattu.’ The regatta is performed as an offering to Sri Parthasarathy and thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to watch it. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a show of pageantry too.Palliyodams are Aranmula's unique snake boats which devotees hold in reverence, considering it as the divine vessel of the presiding deity in Sree Parthasarathy temple.
Aranmula is home to the unique metal mirrors – the Aranmula Kannadi. The mirrors are special in that they use a special, traditionally made metal alloy instead of glass. The composition of the alloy is a well-kept secret within the artisan community who make the mirror. Aranmula Kannadi is one among the eight auspicious items in the ‘Ashtamangalya’ set, believed to bring prosperity and luck to those who keep it at home.
Vastuvidya Gurukulam in Aranmula is a famous institution under the Department of Culture, Government of Kerala that functions to promote and preserve traditional Kerala architecture. The Mural department of Vastuvidya Gurukulam has taken up the task of preserving old murals. It also undertakes new mural painting works. There is exhibition and sale of mural paintings in the Mural Art Gallery of the department.
Konni is a popular training centre for elephants in Kerala. Located in the district of Pathanamthitta, it is a major centre of tourist attraction in Kerala, and attracts visitors in large numbers throughout the year. Situated about 11 km from Pathanamthitta, the main attraction at the elephant-training centre at Konni is the huge cages built of wood to house elephants. This massive wooden cage is locally known as Aanakoodu and can accommodate three to four elephants at a time.
Enjoy a bowl boat riding or coracle rafting at Adavi Eco-tourism near Konni in Pathanamthitta District. The Adavi Eco-tourism project is jointly launched by the departments of Forest and Tourism is part of the third phase of Konni Eco tourism project. A picturesque forest patch, 10 km from Konni on the banks of river Kallar, Adavi has nearly 5-km river frontage. Coracle rafting or Bowl Boat riding is an innovative venture, which promises a never-before experience to travellers.