Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of peninsular India and the meeting point of three oceans-the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is famous for its beautiful views of sunrise and sunset over the waters and also as a Hindu pilgrimage. Legend has it that Kanya Devi, an avatar of Goddess Parvati, was to wed Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. But he did not turn up at the auspicious time and the wedding never took place. The rice and cereals meant for the marriage remained uncooked. Even today, one can buy stones there that look exactly like rice and cereals. Local folks believe that they are the leftovers of the legendary marriage that could not be solemnized. As for the princess Kanya Devi, she became a virgin goddess. This place has been a great center for art, culture, civilization, and pilgrimage for years. It was also a famous center for commerce and trade. Kanyakumari is also popular for its vast stretches of paddy fields, rich forests, coconut groves and mineral sands. Kanyakumari district is bounded by Tirunelveli district in the north and northeast, by Kerala state in the northwest and confluence of Arabian Sea and 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. Due to it's friendship with the sea, Kanyakumari enjoys a pleasant climate and can be visited throughout the year. However, the most enjoyable season to visit this place is between October and March. During summers, the temperature can elevate to a high of 34.8°C while it can dip to a low of 20.4°C during winters. Souvenirs and handicraft articles made from sea shells, and palm leaf articles are the main items to buy at Kanyakumari. Trinklets and packets of coloured sea sand for children can also be bought here. There are several shops selling these articles. Prices vary depending upon your bargaining power. The Cape festival is celebrated on a large scale for three days at Kanyakumari. The festival is marked by a series of cultural programs
How to reach
The nearest airport is at Trivandrum (80 km). It is directly connected with Bangalore, Bombay, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, and Madras by regular flights .
Kanyakumari is connected to Trivandrum, Delhi, and Bombay by broad-gauge railway network. Tirunelvelli (80 km) is the other nearest railway junction and can be reached by road via Nagarkoil (19 km).
Kanyakumari is connected by regular bus services with Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Mandapam (Rameshwaram), Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Tiruchendur, Tiruvelveli, Trivandrum, etc. Town bus service, tourist taxis and auto rickshaws are available.
|Distance from Kanyakumari to :|
Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office, Beach Road, Kanyakumari.
Information Centre, Vivekanand Rock Memorial, Beach Road, Kanyakumari.
State Bank of India
State Bank of Travancore
|Kanyakumari at a glance :|
||18,900 (1991 Census)
||N 8o 3' to 8o 35'
||E 77o 05' to 77o 36'
|| Tamil, Malayalam, English
|Temperature Range (deg C) Summer
|| Max 34.8ºC, Min 22.4ºC
|| Max 33.8ºC, Min 21.6ºC
|| 102 cms (Average)
Places of Interest
The presiding deity of the temple of Kanyakumari is Parasakthi as a virgin Goddess in meditative mood. The life-like image of Devi with a smiling face is a combination of innocence, purity and beauty. Smeared with sandal paste, decked with different varieties of valuable ornaments and decorated with beautiful garlands of flowers. She creates a sense of devotion and "peace that passeth understanding" in the mind of every worshipper. The deity, Devi Kanyakumari is' the protector of India's shores' has an exceptionally brilliant diamond on her nose ring which is supposed to shine out to sea. The temple opens from 4.30 am to 11.30 am and from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm. Non-Hindus are not allowed into the sanctuary.
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.
It is about 500 meters away from mainland. This memorial stands on one of two rocks separated by about 70 meters. It was built in 1970. This memorial is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, the greatest social reformer. Swami Vivekananda had meditated on the rock where the memorial stands today at the end of 1892 before his departure for Chicago to participate in the World Religious Conference in 1893. A meditation hall is also attached with the memorial. It houses a statue of Vivekananda. The divine foot print 'Pada Parai' of Devi is also seen here. It opens from Wednesday to Monday. Tuesday is holiday. It opens from 7.00 am to 11.00 am and from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
Just 13 kms. from Kanyakumari, Suchindram has a temple dedicated to a deity who is the representation of the combined forces of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma. It is one of the few temples in the country where the Trinities 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. The temple has a beautiful gopuram, musical pillars and an excellent statue of the Hanuman, apart from a valuable collection of art from different periods.
This 1000 year old temple is said to have been built by Raja Raja Chola. It is near the railway station.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace in Kanyakumari district, located about 15 km from Nagercoil has the rare distinction of being one of the most ancient monuments in South India. Known for its strategic planning and military architecture, the palace was the seat of power for the Travancore emperors till 1790, when the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram by Karthika Thirunal Maharaja, popularly known as Dharma Raja. Its main attraction is its sheer aesthetic beauty, innovative designs and time tested wooden carvings.
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 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. A spectrum of shells are on sale on the Kanyakumari beach.
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.
The temple of Swami Nelliappar and Sri Kanthimathi Ambal in Tirunelveli (83 km from Kanyakumari) dates back at least to the seventh century. 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 Gopuram is of nine storeys 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 Gopuram, of nine storeys, 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, 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. In the right side of the temple there is one big lake, suitable for boating.
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 45 km from Kanyakumari.
Thirparappu Water Falls
About 60 km 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
Kalakadu 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. 47 km 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.kms. 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 centre. A small temple connected with the sage Agasthiar near the falls attracts a large number of religious people on the full moon day of the month of Chithirai (April - May) and they worship the altar, after a bath in the falls. It is one of the places for trekking also.
Vattakottai (Circular Fort)
The 18th century fort overlooking the sea, located 6 km from Kanyakumari. Here, the sea is calm and suitable for bathing.
Udayagiri Fort (34 km)
Built by King Marthanda Varma (1729-1758AD), this fort also has a foundry for casting guns. The king's trusted European general De Lennoy's tomb is located within this fort.
Padmanabhapuram Palace (45 km) is the magnificent wooden palace of the Travancore maharajas.