Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu
Also Known As :
An Ancient Seaport
Main Attractions :
Kanyakumari Beach, Swami Vivekananda
Kanyakumari - The Southern Most Land Tip Of India
Kanyakumari (also spelt as Kanniyakumari) 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.
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 Kannyakumari, an important pilgrim
centre. Kannyakumari 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
Kannyakumari has been named after the Goddess Kannyakumari 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 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 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 honouring Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu religious leader, was
built in 1970.
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 Kannyakumari. 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 marvellous 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 Kannyakumari 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
The Temple At Suchindram
Tradition connects the Kannyakumari 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.
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 kilometre 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
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 storeys and is 38m
high. The temple is famous for the miracles the Goddess performs in curing
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 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 Kannyakumari
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
spelt as Taluka), about 34-km from Kannyakumari. 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.
Other Attractions Around Kanyakumari: -
About 32-km from Kannyakumari is Muttam with a fine beach and a lighthouse.
About 6-km from Kannyakumari 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 Kannyakumari. As
coconut trees are abundant in this place, the place might have derived this
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
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
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
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
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. 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-kms. There is nothing to differentiate
this sanctuary from that of Kalakadu, except the absence of Elephant and the
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.
How To Get There
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.
Kanyakumari is well connected by train services
with all the places in India. Superfast trains connect the southern most
railhead of India with northern cities like Jammu and Delhi. Intercity
trains are running from almost all the southern cities.
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.
Souvenirs and handicraft articles made from seashells and palm leaf
articles are the main items to buy at Kannyakumari. Trinkets and packets of
coloured sea sand for children can also be bought here. There are several
shops selling these articles.
Fairs And Festivals
Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin is located at the southern most 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