Some 76km southeast of Kochi and 37km northeast of Alappuzha, KOTTAYAM is a compact, busy Keralan town strategically located between the backwaters and the mountains of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. For Keralans, it’s synonymous with money, both old and new. The many rubber plantations around it, introduced by British missionaries in the 1820s, have for more than a century formed the bedrock of a booming local economy, most of it controlled by landed Syrian Christians.

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