KANYAKUMARI TOURISM GUIDE
Location: Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu
Also Known As: Cape Comorin
Main Attractions: Kanyakumari Beach, Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Kanyakumari – the Southern Most Land Tip of India
Kanyakumari (also spelled as Kanniyakumari) district is bounded by Tirunelveli district in the north and northeast, by Tamil Nadu state in the northwest and confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean in the west and south. The coastline is almost regular except for some points of land projecting into the sea at Cape Comorin. Kanyakumari is the district headquarters of the district of the same name.
The City Of Kanyakumari
At the southern, most land tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kanyakumari, an important pilgrim center. Kanyakumari is famous for its beach and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days. Kanyakumari is also famous for its vast green stretches of paddy fields, rich forests, coconut groves, and mineral sands.
Kanyakumari has been named after the Goddess Kanyakumari Amman who is the popular deity of the area. Legend has it that the Goddess Parvati in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanniya did penance on one of the rocks of this land’s end to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva.
The History Of Kanyakumari
Kanniyakumari district, once known as “The Granary of Travancore” lies at the southwestern part of the Indian peninsula. It was in Travancore for a long time and then merged with Tamil Nadu in 1956 under the State Linguistic Reorganisation Act.
The Kanyakumari beach is a beautiful sight with multi-coloured sand. The beach here does not really offer one the opportunity to sunbathe on soft golden sands, or to frolic in the waves either. The seashore is rocky and dangerous, and there is a manmade wall running along with it. People are warned to stay off the rocks, and when if someone ventures out of bounds, he or she is quickly and severely reprimanded by a watchful policeman. There is a lighthouse from where one can get a panoramic view.
The sea is fairly rough, so it is entertaining to watch it beat itself against the rocks and then subside before it gathers itself up for another attack. With long stretches of sands of many hues, the beach offers a welcome change. A variety of shells are on sale on the Kanyakumari beach.
Pilgrim Rites Performed
Pilgrimage rites include bathing at Pitru and Matru Tirtha, two rocks over which a monument honoring Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu religious leader, was built in 1970.
Best Places to Visit in Kanyakumari
Kumari Amman Temple
Kumari Amman Temple is dedicated to Parvati as Devi Kanya, the Virgin Goddess who did penance to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva.
Temple Of Goddess Bhagavathi
Few temples in India are more picturesquely located than that of Goddess Bhagavathi in Kanyakumari. It stands near where three oceans meet: the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
In its early form, the temple seems to have been built by the first Pandyas. The Nayaks expanded it later. There are three Prakaras. The image of the Goddess in the sanctum is marvelous in its serenity and beneficence. She carries a necklace in Her right hand. The eastern gate, facing the Bay of Bengal is opened only five times a year.
Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial
On the evening of December 25, 1892, Swami Vivekananda who had come to Kanyakumari on pilgrimage swam to the rock and spent the whole night there in deep meditation. He then resolved to decide himself to the service of the Motherland and to spread the message of Vedanta. Next year he attended the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, an event of seminal importance in the modern history of Hinduism. To commemorate his visit to the rock a superb memorial has been erected. It attracts thousands of visitors.
Not far from the Kumari Amman Temple is the Gandhi Mandapam, constructed at the spot where the urn containing the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi was kept for public view before a portion of its contents was immersed in the three seas. It resembles an Oriyan temple and was designed so that on Gandhiji’s birthday (2nd October), the sun’s rays fall on the place where his ashes were kept.
The Temple At Suchindram
Tradition connects the Kanyakumari temple with that in Suchindram (13-km from Kanyakumari). This is a fine, large fane, with a beautiful tank. It is one of the few temples in the country where the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Isvara, are worshipped. The Linga, named “Sthanumalaya”, is in three parts; the top represents Lord Shiva, the middle Lord Vishnu, and the base Lord Brahma. “Sthanu” is a name of Shiva, “Mal” of Vishnu, and “Ayan” of Brahma.
Excursions from Kanyakumari
Famous Temples Around Kanyakumari: –
Nagaraja Temple at Nagercoil
19-km from Kannyakumari is Nagercoil, which contains the celebrated Nagaraja temple. The sanctum is a simple thatched shed, with mud walls. It enshrines the King of Serpents. Tradition states that a King of Kalakkad was cured of leprosy when he performed penance in the temple. He then rebuilt it in the Kerala style. He might have been Bhuthalavira Sri Vira Udaya Marthandavarma, who ruled Venad, with Kalakkad as his capital, from 1516 to 1535. It is believed that snakebite is not fatal within a kilometer of the temple. The fane has some Jain sculptures.
The temple of Swami Nelliappar and Sri Kanthimathi Ambal in Tirunelveli (83-km from Kanyakumari) dates back at least to the seventh century. Sambandar has sung it, and Ninrasir Neumaran, the Pandya, is said to have commissioned the making of musical pillars in a Mandapa in this temple. Originally, there were two temples side by side, dedicated to Lord Nelliappar and Goddess Kanthimathi. They were linked by a Mandapa, the “chain” Mandapa, built in 1647. The oldest inscription belongs to the middle of the tenth century.
Sankaranainarkoil has three shrines dedicated to Lord Sankaralinga, to Goddess Gomathi Amman and, between these two, to Lord Sankaranarayana, a combination of Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was built in the eleventh century and was expanded later. The Gopura is of nine stories and is 38m high. The temple is famous for the miracles the Goddess performs in curing illness.
Subramanya Temple in Tiruchendur
The temple of Lord Subramanya in Tiruchendur, also in the same district, is one of the “Arupadai Veedus”, or specially sanctified residences, of the Lord. It is situated by the sea. Traditionally, it commemorates the Lord’s victory over Surapadma, a demon. The Gopura, of nine stories, is 42m high and was constructed in the 17th century. It was renovated in 1983.
One of the celebrated Vaishnavaite temples in the district of Kanyakumari is in Alvar Tirunagari, one of the nine sung of by Namalvar. The saint attained enlightenment under a tree, which still stands in the temple. The Lord is Adinatha. The temple has a Nadaswaram musical instrument made of stone. It is played during the temple festival.
Kumarakovil is at the foot of the Velimalai hills in Kalkulam Taluk (also spelled as Taluka), about 34-km from Kanyakumari. The Lord Muruga Temple is built on the hillock about 200 feet height in a lush green field of Paddy, Plantain and Coconut trees. The temple is noted for architectural beauty. Goddess Valli, the spouse of Lord Subramanya is also enshrined in the temple by the side of the Lord. On the right side of the temple, there is one big lake, suitable for boating.
Other Attractions Around Kanyakumari: –
About 32-km from Kanyakumari is Muttam with a fine beach and a lighthouse.
About 6-km from Kanyakumari is Vattakottai with an 18th-century fort overlooking the sea. The sea here is calm and suitable for bathing.
Thengapattinam, situated on the west coast, is a place of historical importance. It is 35-km from Nagercoil and 54-km from Kanyakumari. As coconut trees are abundant in this place, the place might have derived this name.
This village had, in ancient times, trade relations with foreign countries like Arabia. There was direct Cargo boat service between Thengapattinam and other foreign maritime towns.
The mosque at Thengapattinam is about 1,200 years old. This place is well connected with Nagercoil and Thiruvananthapuram by regular bus service. Thengapattinam Beach is an excellent picnic spot with backwater facilities.
55-km from Kanyakumari is Chidaral. The Jain sculptures here are worth a visit.
Like all other dam sites, Pechipparai Dam too is a popular picnic spot where facilities for boating have also been provided. It is 56-km from Kanyakumari.
The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswami temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Padmanabhapuram is 45km from Kanyakumari.
Thirparappu Water Falls
About 60km from Kanyakumari are Thirparappu Waterfalls, a picturesque spot with an ancient Mahadevar Temple.
Thiruvattar is located at a distance of 70-km from Kanyakumari. The temple here is one of the finest specimens of temple art and architecture. The paintings on the walls of the temple are worth seeing.
Kalakkadu and Mundanthurai
Kakadu wildlife sanctuary is situated in an area of 223-sq-km in the Tirunelveli district, including the foothills of the Western Ghats and the adjoining area. 47km from Tirunelveli, the Kalakadu wildlife sanctuary is very popular with botanists and ornithologists as it has a great variety of fauna and bird life.
Situated 42-km from Tirunelveli, the Mundanthurai wildlife sanctuary boasts of dry deciduous to tropical wet evergreen forest patches of pure reeds. The sanctuary covers an area of 567-sq-km. There is nothing to differentiate this sanctuary from that of Kalakadu, except the absence of Elephant and the Gaur.
It is one of the largest and the highest bridge located near Thiruvattar about 70-km from Kanyakumari. The bridge and the lush green surroundings are noted for scenic beauty.
Olakkay Aruvi Water falls
Olakkay Aruvi waterfalls in the Western Ghats are 14-km from Nagercoil and 33-km from Kanyakumari. The beautiful waterfalls and the natural scenery all around the place attract many holiday seekers and this place has become an important picnic center.
GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION ABOUT KANYAKUMARI
Best Places for Shopping in Kanyakumari
Souvenirs and handicraft articles made from seashells and palm leaf articles are the main items to buy at Kanyakumari. Trinkets and packets of colored sea sand for children can also be bought here. There are several shops selling these articles.
Best Hotels in Kanyakumari
Varied accommodation options varying from luxurious to economic hotels, lodges, Devasthanam cottages are available for tourists in Kanyakumari.
Fairs and Festivals in Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin is located at the southernmost tip of India, where the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea meet. A dip in the ocean here is considered holy, but the sea is rough here and not fit for bathing. This is the only place in India, where the sunset and moonrise can be viewed simultaneously on a full moon day.
The Vivekananda memorial set amidst the sea is a place known to give mental emancipation. The Cape festival is celebrated on a large scale for three days at Kanyakumari. The festival is marked by a series of cultural programs.
Tourist Information Centres in Kanyakumari
Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office, Beach Road, Kanyakumari. Information Centre, Vivekanand Rock Memorial, Beach Road, Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari General Information
Population: 18,900 (1991 Census)
Latitude: N 8o 3′ to 8o 35′
Longitude: E 77o 05′ to 77o 36′
Clothing: Light Cotton
Languages Spoken: Tamil, Malayalam, English
STD Code: 04652
Climate – Tropical
Temperature Range (deg C):
Summer- Max 34.8ºC, Min 22.4ºC
Winter- Max 33.8ºC, Min 21.6ºC
Rainfall: (Average) 102 cms
State Bank of India
State Bank of Travancore
Nearby Cities of Kanyakumari
How to Reach Kanyakumari By Air, Rail & Road ?
Air: The nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram (80-km), which is well connected with national and international flights. From Thiruvananthapuram, one can take a taxi or bus to Kanyakumari.
Rail: Kanyakumari is well connected by train services with all the places in India. Superfast trains connect the southernmost railhead of India with northern cities like Jammu and Delhi. Intercity trains are running from almost all the southern cities.
Road: Kanyakumari is connected by regular bus services with Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Mandapam (Rameshwaram), Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Tiruchendur, Tirunelveli, Trivandrum, etc. Town bus service, tourist taxis, and auto-rickshaws are available.