One of the famous pilgrim centres in Kerala, Malayattoor is located on the slopes of the picturesque Western Ghats, 52 km from Kochi beside the Periyar River. 'Malayattoor' literally means the meeting place of land, mountain and river. It is the first pilgrim centre in India to be accorded international status by the Holy See, the official seat of the Vatican. It is also the largest pilgrim centre in the name of St. Thomas in India. Thousands of pilgrims of all castes and creed undertake the pilgrimage to St. Thomas church, located on top of the hillock Kurishumudi (hill of the holy cross) during the annual festival - Malayattoor Perunnal held in March/April, 8 days after Easter.
Malayattur is a village about six miles to the north-east of Kaladi, the birth place of the Hindu philosopher Sri Sankara. Situated on the banks of the Periyar and covered with thick hills, it is rightly called Malayattur. The rich scenery of the surging mountains and crystal waters of the Periyar is an attraction for all kinds of pilgrims.
St. Thomas shrine at Malayattur is believed to be one of the ancient catholic shrines in the northern part of the State. The chief festival at the shrine is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter that is the second Sunday, since the first moon, after the Vernal Equinox (March 21). The Feast, therefore, falls generally in the month of April or at times in the last week of March. The Octave is celebrated on the following Sunday. The pilgrims have to climb a hill nearly 2000 feet high and on top of it is the church. It is only a small sanctuary, a very plain building with no artistic attraction. The pilgrims chant prayers as they climb up and down the hill. The Grand Father whom the pilgrims invoke in their prayers in none other than St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. It is now admitted by a vast majority of writers that St. Thomas preached Christianity in India and erected sever churches and crosses in Malabar.
During the days of the festival, ceremonies are held in the open air. A visit to the shrine of Malayattur during the festival days is very interesting, be he a Christian or a non-Christian. So inspiring is the scenery of the hill and dale which seems to sing the glory of the Creator.