Kanyakumari – the geographical end of the mainland of India is a very popular tourist destination and is often reckoned to be one of the top 10 most popular tourist places of India. Kanyakumari is one such destination which has been equally popular as a tourism destination and pilgrimage destination, alike. The popularity of Kanyakumari, the southernmost point of peninsular India, is largely due to the fact that it is at the confluence of three ocean bodies – the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Lakhs of tourist, round the year are lured by the serene beauty of this place and the spectacles of sunrise and sunset.
Where is Kanyakumari?
Kanyakumari – the century old centre for art and religion is the southernmost end of peninsular India and is situated in the Indian state of Tamilnadu. The town of Kanyakumari is in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu, whose district town is Nagercoil.
Whenever one thinks of Kanyakumari, the picture that immediately comes in his or her mind is that of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the 133 feet tall stone statue of the Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar. Though Kanyakumari is not short of tourist attraction, yet Vivekananda Rock Memorial has almost become synonymous with Kanyakumari. The spectacle of sunrise, sunset and moonrise at Kanyakumari is indeed unique and is an added attraction of Kanyakumari. To watch the sun set and to see the moon rising out of the ocean on a full moon day is an experience that lives in one’s memory for life. It is the only place in India where one can enjoy the unique spectacle of sunset and moonrise simultaneously on full moon days. It is said that on Chitra Pournami (full moon day in the Tamil month Chitrai) in April, one can see both the sun and the moon facing each other on the same horizon, a rare sight of unique grandeur.
The name of this place has been christened after the virgin goddess – Kanyakumari Amman, a manifestation of Goddess Parvati. The Kumari Amman or the Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore, is considered to be a Shakti Peetha and is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination. During British rule, the place was named Cape Comorin and was a favorite holidaying destination of the Britishers.
Apart from being the southernmost end of India and the meeting point of the three large water bodies (Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea), Kanyakumari is also considered to be a important Hindu pilgrimage centre and a place of immense historic importance. The city of Kanyakumari have been around for thousands of years and has been the city of culture, history, arts, economy and the hub of civilization for centuries. Though the sea here is quite rough and is not ideal for swimming and other sea activities, but the exuberant scenes of the sunsets and the sunrises is something which is unforgettable. On a clear full moon evening one can see the spectacle of moon-rise and sunset at the same time – on either side of the horizon. The multi-colored sand of the beach adds to the beauty of the place.
The beauty of Kanyakumari is so immense that even after spending a week at Kanyakumari, one will leave with a firm resolution of coming back here again. Kanyakumari is abound with numerous sightseeing spots and even weeks are not enough to explore all of them. An account of only a few of the most popular sightseeing destinations in and around Kanyakumari is given here.
Temple of Kanyakumari
It is this temple of the virgin goddess, Kanyakumari, an incarnation of Parvati from which, the place derive its name. The temple of Kanyakumari standing on the sea shore is considered to be a Shakti Peeth is a major Hindu pilgrimage destination. A large number of Hindu pilgrims visit Kanyakumari every year to worship in this temple of Kanyakumari.
Entry into the temple is mainly through the northern gate, although the deity is facing east. The eastern entrance remains closed except for special occasions when the deity is taken out for ceremonial bath. There are all together three corridors that skirt the sanctum. The outer corridor is deprived of special shrines, but after a walk round it the devotees cross the ‘Navarathiri mandapam’. A pathway leads to the second corridor surrounding the shrine. There stands the flag mast or ‘Kodisthambam’. The Goddess can be clearly viewed from here. Moving further you will reach the front of the sanctum. The Idol of the Goddess stands with rosary in one hand is said to have been installed by Parasurama and is made of blue stone. The deity’s diamond nose ring is famous for its sparkling splendor and is said to be visible even from the sea. In the inner corridor, the shrines of Vinayagar and Thiagasundary are present, which is visited by devotees after worshiping the Goddess.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Undoubtedly the most popular of all the sightseeing destinations of Kanyakumari is this memorial of the great Indian religious philosopher, Swami Vivekananda. The memorial was built in 1970 on a rocky island about 500 meters from the shore line, where Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated in solitary splendor for three days and three nights (25-27 December 1892) seeking enlightenment. The object of his meditation was the misery of Mother India and the path of reawakening of India.
Swami Vivekananda received enlightenment and got the message, “Time is ripe for you to broadcast the message of Vedanta, of ancient wisdom, to the world”. The meditation at Kanyakumari was a prelude to Swami Vivekananda’s ascent to world recognition through his soul-stirring lectures at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago and thereafter in different parts of America, England and Europe. Swami Vivekananda naturally stands as the one who drew India out of her isolation of centuries and put her on the world map again.
The memorial consists of two main structures, the Vivekananda Mandapam and the Shripada Mandapam. It houses a statue of Swami Vivekananda. A meditation hall is also attached to the memorial for visitors to meditate. One can also see the Shripada Mandapam, where there are the footprints of the virgin goddess. The merger of three seas – Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean can be seen from this sacred and popular monument. Ferry services at an interval of every half hour are available to reach the memorial. The ferry services operate daily between 8 am to 4 pm.
For a 360 degree virtual tour of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari in Tamilnadu click HERE
Very close to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at the confluence of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean is this architectural masterpiece. This 133 feet tall stone statue of the Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, author of the Thirukkural was built keeping in mind the statue of Liberty in America. The state-owned Poompuhar Shipping Corporation runs ferry services between the town of Kanyakumari and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue, daily between 8 am to 4 pm.
The huge statue of Thiruvalluvar has a height of 95 feet and stands upon a 38 foot pedestal that represents the 38 chapters of “virtue” in the Thirukkural. This 7000 ton statue with a combined height of (the statue and pedestal taken together) 133 feet, denoting the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural symbolizes the themes of wealth and love based on virtue. The statue, with its slight bend around the waist is reminiscent of a dancing pose of the ancient Indian deities like Nataraja. The pedestal is surrounded by an artistic mandapam known as alankara mandapam. Surrounding this mandapam stand statues of ten elephants. To help the visitors to worship the holy feet of the saint 140 steps are constructed inside the mandapam.
Though the foundation stone for the statue was laid in 1979, by the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai, but the real installation and the sculpting work began on September 6, 1990. Work got stalled again due to lack of fund. However, in 1997 it got recommenced again and was completed in 1999. Five hundred sculptors were engaged for this work under the able guidance of Dr. Ganapathi Sthapathi, who was the main architect and sculptor of the entire project. Dr. Ganapathi Sthapathi designed the statue to survive earthquakes of unexpected magnitude. The state was inaugurated on 1st January 2000 by Dr.Mu. Karunanidhi, the then chief minister of Tamilnadu.
For a virtual tour of the Thiruvalluvar Statue in Kanyakumari click HERE.
The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial or Gandhi Mandapam built to honor Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is one among the most popular and frequented tourist attractions of Kanyakumari. This somewhat unique mandapam bolt in Orissa style of architecture has been designed in such a way that on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, on 2 October, the rays of the sun, through a hole on the roof, falls exactly on the place where the urn has been kept. The memorial, dedicated to the “father of the nation” is constructed at a place on the seashore, near Kumari Amman Temple, where his ashes were kept for public darshan before immersion in the sea on February 12, 1948.
The Gandhi Memorial built in 1956 is a finest example of modern architecture. The central structure of the memorial is 79 feet high, which represents his age at the time of the death of Gandhi. The memorial has colossal Library that is packed with rare historical books based on the life and activities of Mahatma Gandhi. Among others the mandapam also houses a few memorabilia that were with him in his last hours along with pamphlets, magazines etc. It is open for public reading on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. No entry fee is charged. During the months of July and August the Library remains closed because special programs are held there during that time.
At a distance of about 12 Km from Kanyakumari, in a place called Suchindram is this unique temple where the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped together. Not only pilgrims, even tourists from around the world visit this temple to witness the architectural wonders of India the unique craftsmanship of the Indian artists. A must visit sightseeing destination of Kanyakumari; Thanumalayan temple is popularly known as Suchindram temple and is particularly famous for its musical pillars.
This 134 feet temple of Suchindram is an example of architecture of amazing dexterity and endeavor, presenting a different face of “Incredible India”. The whole front face of the temple is covered with sculpting from the Hindu mythology. The uniqueness of the temple lie in the fact that it is the only temple of India that it is dedicated to three different deities represented by one image in the sanctum and is called Sthanumalayan (Sthanu-Shiva; Maal-Vishnu and Ayan-Brahma) kovil. The linga is in three parts, the top represents “Sthanu” name of Siva, the middle “Mal” name of Vishnu, and the base “Ayan” name of Brahma. The Suchindram temple is very famous for the musical pillars. The pillars are constructed in such a way that when they are tapped, they give off various musical notes.
This temple attracts both Vaishnavites and Saivites in large numbers. About 30 shrines of various deities within the temple complex is an example the skill of Indian artists and craftsmen of the era. The idol of Vishnu in the adjacent shrine and a large idol of Hanuman, the devotee of God Rama at the Eastern end of the Northern corridor needs special mention. No amount of words can justify or reflect the grandeur, exquisiteness, ethos or the nuances of the artists’ creation.
This seaside fort, at a distance of about 7 Km from Kanyakumari is a major attraction for tourists visiting Kanyakumari. This 18th century circular fort is worth visiting not only because of its historical importance but also due to the picturesque view of both the sea on the one side, and the hills Western Ghats on the other.
The fort was constructed under the supervision of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, an ex-Dutch naval officer of the Dutch East India Company, as a coastal defense-fortification, who became commander of the Travancore Army, after he earned the trust of the Travancore King Marthanda Varma. The fort is spread over an area of 4 acres and is enclosed by walls 25 to 26 feet high. It is made of granite blocks and today, a part of the fort extends into the sea. It is now a protected site under the Indian archaeological department. An underground tunnel connects the fort to the Padmanabhapuram Palace of the Travancore Kings. The sea here is so calm, that it is ideal for a refreshing dip. The small river by the side of the fort, and the green vegetation all around add to the scenery of the fort. Vattakottai Fort is also famous for the black sand beaches that are situated across its coast.
other important and popular sightseeing destinations of Kanyakumari is the Padmanabhapuram Palace which is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long. The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats. The river Valli flows nearby. The palace was constructed around 1601 AD by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 AD and 1609 AD. The maker of modern Travancore Anizham Thirunal Marthandavarma (AD 1706 -1758) who ruled Travancore from AD 1729 to 1758 rebuilt the palace in and around 1750 AD.
This magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century is a fine specimen of Kerala’s indigenous style of architecture. Visitors to the Padmanabhapuram palace, which was the official residence of the Maharaja’s of the erstwhile State of Travancore are often overwhelmed by the royal splendor of erstwhile Travancore. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can also see the musical bow in mahogany, windows with colored mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, ‘Thaikkottaram’ or the Queen Mother’s palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs. The important edifices in the Palace complex are Poomugham (entrance hall), Manthrasala (council hall) Manimeda (clock tower), and Natakasala (the hall to perform Kathakali), Uttupura (dining hall) Thaikottaram (Mother Palace), Uppirika Malika (storeyed building) Kannadithalam, Navarathri mandapam, Indravilasom, Chandra vilasom etc.
One can enter into the palace to witness its grandeur on any day between Tuesday to Monday within 9 am to 4.30 pm. Adults have to pay an entry fee of Rs 25, while children’s are to pay Rs 10. Foreigners are charged Rs 200. For using camera one need to shell out Rs 25, but for doing video recording, one needs to pay Rs 1500.
The list is indeed unending. Apart from those described above, there are quite a number of other sightseeing destinations around Kanyakumari that are worthy of visit.
Udaygiri Fort at a distance of about 34 Km from Kanyakumari, built by King Marthanda Varma is an exquisite piece of history.
Sitharal Jain Monuments, located at a distance of about 55 Km from Kanyakumari, dating back to 9th century AD is a cave on a small hillock with rock cut sculptures of the Jain Thirthankaras and attendant deities belonged to Jain monks of the Digambara sect.
Olakaruvi Falls, at a distance of about 35 Km from Kanyakumari is known for its rejuvenating power for the old people is a very popular tourist attraction. It takes more than an hour’s drive plus an hour’s trek by foot from the base of the hill to get there.
Sanguthurai Beach is a palm-fringed white sand beach at a distance of about 14 Km from Kanyakumari. This serene and picturesque beach is extremely popular among both tourists and locals.
Sothavilai Beach, at a distance of about 12 Km from Kanyakumari through West Coast Road is one of the longest and best beaches of Tamil Nadu. Stretching over 4 Km, the beach is extremely popular among tourists.
Other prominent places of interest includes water theme amusement park (Bay watch)
Courtallam Falls, Kamarajar Mani Mandapa Monument, Keeriparai, Kodhayar, Lord Subramanya Temple, Maruthuvazh Malai, Nagaraja Temple, St Xavier Church, Thirunandhikarai Cave Temple, Thiruparrapu Falls, Tiruchendur Temple, Wax Museum , etc.
How to reach Kanyakumari?
The nearest airport of Kanyakumari is Thiruvanathapuram (also known as Trivandrum), at a distance of about 87 Km. The airport has both domestic and international terminals. The airport at Thiruvanathapuram is well connected with all the major cities of India and quite a few cities, abroad. From Thiruvananthapuram airport one can hire a taxi or board a bus to reach Kanyakumari.
The railway station of Kanyakumari is barely 1 Km from the central bus stand of Kanyakumari. A number of express, mail and superfast trains connects Kanyakumari with all the major cities of India, like, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, etc. Intercity trains are running from almost all the southern cities to Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari is well connected by regular bus services with Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Tiruchendur, Tiruvelveli, Trivandrum, etc. Both State Transport buses and private buses are easily available at affordable rates to reach Kanyakumari panel depicting ‘Lord Shiva and Parvati during a dance. The Ardhanareeswarar is one of the best sculptural wonder.
Where to stay at Kanyakumari?
Kanyakumari is full of hotels and guest houses. You can just go there without pre-booking and ask for a room in the hotels you like.
Vivekanandapuram is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay at Kanyakumari at an affordable rate. Vivekanandapuram offers clean living, luxurious to affordable accommodation for over 1000 persons at a time at reasonable charges. For booking mail at: email@example.com or contact at 04652-246250.
Hotel Sea View
Ideally located in the heart of Kanyakumari, few minutes from the Kanyakumari Bus Terminus, Hotel Sea View is an ideal staying option for all the comfort and cosiness that one desires for, while on a vacation tour.
For online reservation and for information about this hotel, just click HERE. You can also call the hotel reception at – 04652 – 247841.
Hotel Singaar International
Panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and a complex spanning on a four acres of land makes Singaar International one of the best staying options of kanyakumari.
For online reservation and to know more about this hotel, just click HERE. To know more about the hotel you can also dial at the contact telephone number: 04652 – 247992 / +91 9443312147
Hotel Shivas Residency
Being situated at the heart of the town close to the sea shore with views of Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar statue, Hotel Shivas Residency is another ideal staying option of Kanyakumari.
To know more about the hotel you and to avail its online booking facility, just click HERE. You can also contact over phone to know about the hotel at – 04652 246929/150
Hotel Gopi Nivas Grand
A paragon of contemporary luxury and rich in history, Hotel Gopinivas Grand is strategically located in the heart of city near sea shore. This 3 star hotel is known for style, design, decor and technology, that are integrated harmoniously to provide an inspired stay.
To know more about the hotel and to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE. For telephone inquiry, contact at: 04652 – 246161 / 246262
With 75 well furnished A/c and Non A/c deluxe rooms, this is one of the best budget staying option of Kanyakumari.
To know more about the hotel and to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE. For telephone inquiry, contact at: 04652 246787/757/788
With a fine blend of traditional Indian Culture and heritage with authentic Indian Cuisine, this resort hotel is located away from the hustle bustle of the busy town of Kanyakumari. This hotel is situated in a small village called Marungoor on the way from Suchindrum to Rajovoor.
For online booking of the hotel, just click HERE. log on to: For inquiry over telephone, contact at: 04652 293501/293502/293503/254405
Hotel Tamilnadu – Telephone contact number: 04652 – 246257-58, 246426-27
Hotel Ashoka – Telephone contact number: 04652 – 246895
Vivekas Tourist Hotel – Telephone contact number: 04652 – 246192
About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.