Kanyakumari is one of the most exotic tourist destinations to go to in India. Once called Cape Comorin, it is also the southernmost part of the Indian mainland.
About 86 km southeast of Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari is the point of confluence of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Kanyakumari is home to another unique geographical phenomenon that allows you to witness the sunrise and sunset on the same beach.
The city gets its name from the Hindu goddess Kanyakumari who was also known as Kumari Amman. The temple dedicated to Goddess Kanyakumari is located at southernmost tip of the city.
Various myths and legends have been associated with the city. Kanya Devi, a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati was to marry Lord Shiva but he failed to show up for the wedding. The uncooked rice and other food items lay there and eventually turned into stones. Some people believe that that the stones on shore that resemble rice were actual grains of rice meant for the wedding feast. Kanya Devi is worshipped as a virgin goddess.
Kanyakumari has temples and churches, statues and beaches to entice the tourist. The location of the city played major part in the evolution of its culture. People from many countries visited the port town and its evidence is seen in its food, architecture and art forms.
Kanyakumari is also associated with Indian Renaissance as Swami Vivekananda spent time meditating here.
Kanyakumari was a major pearl fishing centre in the first century. It was a maritime trade centre during the rule of Cholas, Cheras, Nayaks and the Pandayas. Kanyakumari became known as South Travancore under the reign of Venad kings and the city prospered during their rule. The city was under the rule of the Pandayan Kings, which was followed by the rule of the Travancore Maharajas.
You can buy trinkets made of sea shells and other souvenirs. It is not a shopping destination; however, you can buy saris and other textiles. Handloom garments are also worth a buy.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation options are plenty ranging from budget, mid-range and luxury hotels. The budget hotels are clustered near the railway station and the bus stand. They have good facilities and are all located within two km of the railway station. Mid-range hotels can be found all over the city. East Car Street and Kovalam Road have a good number of mid-range hotels. Luxury hotels are located near Sunset Point and on Kottakari Road.
WHERE TO EAT
The best place to eat is near Beach Road where the coast is dotted with shacks and restaurants that serve a wide array of seafood.
There are few vegetarian restaurants too on Hospital Road and Vivekanandpuram Road.
You can get Chinese, Punjabi, Italian, South Indian, and North Indian and Continental cuisine in Kanyakumari.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit is between October to March.
WHAT TO SEE
Kanyakumari Temple: Built at the edge of sea, the temple is dedicated to Kumari Amman who kept waiting for her groom on her wedding day but never came. The nose ring on the idol shines brightly and is said could be seen from great distances. Ships strayed off course and crashed into rocks attracted by the light. The eastern door of the temple has been closed to avoid such accidents. The door is opened only five days every year.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Built in 1970 by the Ramkrishna Mission, it is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda. It is built on a small island off the shore of Kanyakumari. The statue stands at the place where the great philosopher meditated.
Tiruvalluvar Statue: The 133 ft tall stone monument is dedicated to saint-poet Tiruvalluvar who wrote Tirukkural. Inaugurated on January 1, 2000, the statue is on a small island near the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. There are ferries to reach both the monuments.
Government Museum: The museum has a wide array of objects which hold great historical importance like old coins, bronze sculptures, woodcarvings and tribal objects.
Gandhi Memorial: Dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and designed like a temple, the Gandhi Memorial has the urn in which Gandhi’s ashes were kept before immersion. The urn is kept in such a position that the first ray of light falls on the urn on October 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday.
Mathur Aqueduct: The longest and highest aqueduct in South Asia, Mathur Aqueduct is about 46 northwest of Kanyakumari. Built on the Pahrali River, it gets its name from the a hamlet called Mathur near it. The aqueduct has become a major tourist attraction in the district of Kanyakumari.
NEAR TO KANYAKUMARI
Kovalam: About 83 km northwest of Kanyakumari, Kovalam in Kerala is one of the oldest tourist enclaves in India and home to one of the best beaches in the world. The clean beaches have shallow waters and very gradual gradient that allows you to walk a long way into the sea.
Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Located about 60 north of Kanyakumari, the reserve is considered to be one of five centres of plant diversity in the country. Agasthiarmalai, the third highest peak of south India is in the reserve.
Udaygiri Fort: The fort was an important military barracks for the rulers of Travancore when their capital was the city of Padmanabhapuram. The fort, built from huge blocks of granite covers an area of about 90 acres and rises about 260 ft high.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Kanyakumari is as given below. The best time to visit Kanyakumari is also specified.