‘We travel some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.’
Kanniyakumari (or kanyakumari) is a town on the southernmost tip of the main land of India, in the state of Tamil Nadu. About 86 km south east of Thiruvananthapuram, it is the point of confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. Kanyakumari is home to another unique geographical phenomenon that allows you to witness the sunrise and sunset at the same beach. The town get its name from the Hindu Goddess kanyakumari, who has a temple dedicated to her.
Various myths and legends have been associated with Kanyakumari. One suggests that Kanya Devi was a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati was to marry Lord Shiva but he failed to show up for the wedding. It is said that a demon king, Banasura could be killed only by a virgin girl. Kanya Devi had the power to do so. However, if she’d be married off, she’d no longer be able to destroy the demon. Enraged, the goddess scattered all the food prepared for the wedding. It all 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 worshiped as a virgin goddess.
The small town of Kanyakumari has temples and churches, statues and beaches to entice the tourist. Just off the mainland, and perhaps the most recognizable landmark of Kanyakumari is the Thiruvalluvar statue with the pedestal the statue measures an exact 133 ft to represent the 133 chapters of Tirukkural, the most important work in Tamil of literature. It is also famous for the Vivekanada Rock Memorial, where Swami Vivekananda meditated and decided to carry his message of peace across the world. 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.
There’s a sense of accomplishment on making it to the tip of the subcontinent’s ‘V’, past the final dramatic flourish of the Western Ghats and the green fields, glinting rice paddies and slow-looping wind turbines of India’s deep south. Kanyakumari can feel surreal; at certain times of the year, you’ll see the sunset and the moon rise over three seas (Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean) simultaneously. The Temple of the Virgin Sea Goddess, Swami Vivekananda’s legacy, and the ‘Land’s End’ symbolism draw crowds of pilgrims and tourists to Kanyakumari, but it remains a small-scale, refreshing respite from the hectic Indian road.
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