Hindu Pilgrimage
 
Kanyakumari

At the southernmost tip of India, the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal is the location of Kanniyakumari, an important pilgrimage site and one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.

Kanniyakumari was once referred to as the "Alexandria of the East". It has been a great centre for pilgrimage, commerce and trade. St.Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, arrived in this area in 52 AD. Kanniyakumari was under the control of the Chola, Chera, Pandya and Nayak dynasties who built several temples. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have also enriched the architectural wealth and heritage of the city. The Kumari Amman temple here is dedicated to Parvati as Devi - Kanya, the virgin goddess who eternally protects the country at its southern tip. Swami Vivekananda meditated here and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970 is dedicated to him. From the lighthouse one can see the panoramic view of the landscape of Kanniyakumari.

Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin is at its pinnacle during Chitra Pournami (full moon day in April) when the sun and moon are face to face at the same horizon. Other full moon days are also special when you can see the sunset and the moonrise almost simultaneously. A fine beach landscape with multi hued sands is another interesting aspect of Kanniyakumari. Palm leaf articles of Kanniyakumari are very famous.

How to Reach

The nearest Airport is Thiruvananthapuram (87 km)
Kanyakumari is on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kanyakumari section of the southern railway. The daily Nellai Kumari Express links Kanniyakumari to ~Chennai~. ~Thiruvananthapuram~ and ~Mumbai~ are also connected by direct trains. The Himsagar Express runs across the length of the entire country form ~Jammu~ Tawi to Kanniyakumari covering the distance in 74 hours.
Kanniyakumari is well connected by road to Chennai (703 km), Madurai (242 km), and other major towns in South India. Local buses go to Nagercoil, Padmanabhapuram, Thiruvananthapuram and Kovalam among other places.

Sights to Visit

Kumariamman Temple

Picturesquely situated overlooking the shore, this temple and the nearby Ghat attract tourists from all over the world. Dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanniyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country, the temple is built at the spot where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Lord Shiva to come and claim her hand in marriage. When she was unsuccessful, she vowed to remain a virgin (Kanya).

The Diamond nose-ring of this deity is famous for its sparkling splendour, which is supposed to be visible even from the sea. It is believed to have (mis) guided many a ship to the treacherous rocks near the shore. Due to the grave threat of the reflected light from the nose-stud to the unsuspecting ships the door on the side facing the sea was closed for ensuring the safety of the ships.

Vivekananda Memorial

A grand memorial to philosopher Swami Vivekananda, it is on one of the twin rocks jutting out from the sea about 200 m offshore. There is a Dhyana Mandapam where Swami Vivekananda's meditation transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leaders of this century. Built in 1970, the unique structure is a blend of various architectural styles of India. Close to the Vivekananda Rock is another rock called Sripada Parai meaning the rock that has been blessed by the touch of the feet of the goddess. Poompuhar Shipping Corporation operates frequent ferry services from the shore to the rock memorial at regular intervals.

Government Museum

Located near the tourist office at Beach Road, the museum contains bronzes, coins, tribal objects, woodcarvings,zoological and botanical specimens. The "Temple Car" from Samythoppu and Wales Bones from Manavalakurichy in Kanniyakumari District add charm to the museum.

Guganathaswamy Temple

This 1000-year-old temple is believed to have been built by Raja Cholan. Vattakottai (Circular Fort) The 18th century fort overlooking the sea was built by the Dutch and is located 6 km from Kanniyakumari. Here, the sea is calm and suitable for a swim.

Suchindram (13 km)

Suchindram's Thanumalayan temple is dedicated to a deity who is the representation of the combined forces of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Inscriptions said to be of the 9th century AD can be found in this temple. The temple is also famous for its 18-foot high statue of the monkey god Hanuman with its musical pillars, Vainayaki (Female Vinayaka) relief carving and a repository of art treasures belonging to many kingdoms.

Nagercoil (19 km)

Named after the temple dedicated to Nagaraja - the King of Snakes - Nagercoil, the images of the Jain Tirthankaras, Mahavira and Parsavanathar are found on the pillars of the temple. There are frequent buses from Nagercoil to any other part of the state and to Thiruvananthapuram in neighbouring Kerala.

Padmanabhapuram (45 km)

The former capital of Travancore, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort, which encloses among other buildings a palace and a temple. The wooden palace covers an area of 6 acres and has many antiquities, including the armoury of the royal family. The Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Tiruchendur is the site of a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya.

Udayagiri Fort (34 km)

Built by King Marthanda Varma (1729-1758AD), this fort has a foundry for casting guns. The king's trusted European general De Lennoy's tomb is located within this fort. Pechipparai Dam (56 km) Like most dam sites this one too is a popular picnic spot where facilities for boating have also been provided.

Thirparappu Water Falls (60 km)

A picturesque spot with an ancient Mahadevar Temple. Thiruvattar (60 km) 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.

 
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