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Kanyakumari – The southern most point of continental India




Area: 11.6 sq km
Best time to visit: October to March
Location : The southernmost point of peninsular India

Kanyakumari forms the southern most end of mainland India, being the place where the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean merge (and consequently being famous for the merge of 3 different bodies of water). Kanyakumari has been a great center for culture, civilization and pilgrimage for years. Kanyakumari is named after the virgin goddess Kanyakumari whose temple is situated here. Legends have it that Kanya Devi, an incarnation (avatar) of Goddess Parvati, was to wed Lord Shiva but he did not turn up for the wedding (having turned back in a mistake) and the marriage never took place. According to legends, the rice and cereals meant for the marriage remained uncooked. Even today, stones that look exactly like rice and cereals are available in the market. It is a common belief that these stones are the leftovers of the legendary marriage, which could not be solemnized. As the marriage could not take place, Kanya Devi became a virgin goddess.

Map of Kanyakumari on MapMyIndia.com

Besides its importance as a Hindu pilgrim center, it is famous for its beautiful views of sunrise and sunset over the waters. The multicolored sand is a unique feature of the beach here. Due to its proximity to the sea, Kanyakumari enjoys a pleasant climate and can be visited throughout the year. However, the best season to visit this place would be between October and March. During summers, the temperature can rise to a high of 34.8°C while it can dip to a low of 20.4°C during winters.
Kanyakumari or the Cape Comorin was once known as the Alexandria of the east. A hub of art, culture, civilization, and pilgrimage for years, it was famous for commerce and trade. The architecture of this beautiful beach land is greatly inspired by the influence of many religions like Islam, Christianity and Jainism. Kanyakumari was ruled by the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks, all great rulers of south India. The credit for the architectural beauty of the temples found in Kanyakumari goes to these rulers. As per convention, Kanyakumari was given the name Cape Comorin by the British as it was easier for them to pronounce.
Christianity arrived in South India around AD 52 through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ. However, European missionaries, who arrived in the 16th century, propagated Christianity in the area. St. Francis Xavier (April 7, 1506 – December 2, 1552) was the pioneer in preaching Christianity in the present day Kanyakumari district. Islam is believed to have entered the southern part of India through Kanyakumari during the early part of the eighth century AD through traders and missionaries who came through sea-routes. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have also contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of the region.

Places to see:

The Kumari Amman or the Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore, is dedicated to a manifestation of Parvati, the virgin goddess who did penance to obtain Lord Shiva’s hand in marriage. The temple and the adjoining ghat, picturesquely situated overlooking the shore, attract tourist from all over the world. The diamond nose-ring of the deity is famous for its sparkling splendor said to be visible even from the sea. Legend has it that the light emanating from this nose ring misguided arriving ships and caused them to crash onto the rocky coast.

The striking Gandhi Memorial has been built on the spot (on an island) where the urn containing the Mahatma’s ashes was kept for public viewing before immersion. Resembling central Indian Hindu temples in form, the memorial was so designed that on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (October 2), the first rays of the sun fall on the exact place where the ashes of the father of the nation were kept.

The famous Vivekananda Rock Memorial is built in several architectural styles off the coast on rocks that protrude from the ocean. Built in 1970, it marks the place where Swami Vivekananda meditated and evolved his philosophy, close to the memorial is Sripada Parai where the footprints of the virgin goddess are supposed to have fallen. Ferry services to the rocks are frequent. This memorial stands on one of two rocks separated by about 70 meters. It opens from Wednesday to Monday. Tuesday is a holiday. It opens from 0700 to 1100 and from 1400 to 1700.

Thiruvalluvar Statue: Located at the southern most tip of the Indian Peninsula where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, is Kanyakumari, the place famous for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here out in the sea, about 400m from the shore, on the minor rock adjoining the Vivekananda rock memorial lies a Statue of Saint Thiruvalluvar, the author who gave us quintessential words of wisdom through his philosophical work ‘Thirukkural’, a treatise in Tamil on the Indian way of life.

Vattakottai Fort was built in 18th century by the Travancore king Marthanda Varma for defending coastal areas. It was designed by the Dutch captain De Lannoy and is an interesting fort extending to the sea. Fort sides are flanked by beaches and you will rarely find people at the beach. So most of the time it is like being in a private beach!

Thirparappu Water Falls – Thirparappu water falls is a beautiful and elegant waterfall on the Kodayar river. It is a very popular tourist destination and is jam packed at almost all times! Thirparappu waterfall is located about 60KM from Kanyakumari and about 10KM from Marthandam.

Petchi Parai Dam – Pechiparai dam is located about 40KM from Nagercoil. It is built across Kodayar river and is at the downstream of Thirparappu waterfalls. There is a camp shed for tourists.

Udayagiri Fort – Udayagiri Fort is located about 14KM from Nagercoil and about 33KM from Kanyakumari. It was built in 16th century and later in 18th century was rebuilt by Travancore king Marthanda Varma. It is located on the NH47 and hence you can visit it while travelling to or back from Kanyakumari.

Situated 13 km from Kanyakumari, Suchindram bears the imprint of various kingdoms. The Thanumalayan temple here is a repository of art treasures belonging to those kingdoms. The temple is famous for its musical columns and its impressive six m-tall statue of the monkey god, Hanuman. The main deity in the form of a shivling represents Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, the trinity of the Hindu pantheon. Ancient inscriptions dating back to the ninth century are found in this place.

The Lord Subramanya temple at Kumarakovil (34km) is situated in the midst of lush greenery on a hillock. It is noted for its architecture and the lake near it is big enough to boat in.

How to reach:

By Air : The nearest airport from Kanyakumari is situated at Trivandrum about 80 kms away. It is directly connected with Bangalore, Mumbai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, and Chennai by regular flights.
Kanyakumari is connected to most of the cities by the Indian Railways network, with direct trains to Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Jammu, Chennai and many others. Tirunelvelli, situated around 80 kms away from Kanyakumari is the other nearest railway junction and can be reached by road via Nagarkoil (19 km).
Additionally, buses are available to go to Trivandrum, Nagercoil, Tirunelvelli, Rameswaram and other nearby towns. The nearest airport is located in Trivandrum.
Distances – Trivandrum (86 km), Nagarkoil (19 km), Tirunelvelli (91 km), Tiruchendur (89 km), Tuticorin (129 km), Rameshwaram (300 km), Courtallam (130 km), Madurai (242 km), Thekkady (358 km), Kodaikanal (362 km), Palani (370 km), Ootacamund (576 km), Cochin (309 km), and Coimbatore (478 km)

Places to stay:

Hotel Singaar in Kanyakumari (link)
Hotel Sea View (link)
Hotel Samudra
Hotel Trisea (link)
Hotel Parvathi Residency
Review of some places to stay (link)

External articles:

1. Trip to Kanyakumari (link)
2. Trip to Kanyakumari on paintedstork.com (link)
3. Trip to Kanyakumari (link)
4. Hotels, places, and others in Kanyakumari (link)
5. Cochin – Munnar – Thekkady – Kumarakom – Kanyakumari – Kovalam (link)
6. Photos at Flickr (link)
7. Tribute to Swami Vivekananda (link)
8. Kanyakumari travel report (link)
9. Bangalore-Madurai-Rameshwaram-kanyakumari (link)
10. Picture Gallery for Kanyakumari (link)
11. Travelpod (link)
12. Review of mouthshut (link)
13. Some beautiful photos from Travelpod (link)
14. Great photos at pbase.com (link)
15. Blog on Kanyakumari on travelblog.com (link)
16. Photos of Kanyakumari at geocities.com (link)
17. Photo Gallery at the official site (link)




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