Kanyakumari is the southern most tip of India, and this is the location where the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Indian ocean in the south and the Arabian sea in the west meet. The three bodies of water can be distinguished by their colours. The Bay of Bengal is quite blue/green while the Indian ocean appears very grey. There is also a particular location on one of the beaches from where one can see the sun set and the sun rise from the same spot.
Maneesh and I rented a car from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari and took the two hour drive to this intriguing place. The drive between the cities was very scenic. The state of Kerala is beautifully outlined with many tall coconut trees with intervals of open fields harvesting various crops. From time to time there were even small hills that add a backdrop to the scenes.
We got a very good feel of the country side of Kerala and eventually Tamil Nadu as Kanyakumari is located on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There were many coconut vendors along the highway and we had plenty of fresh coconut water! The fresh and sweet coconut water was probably one of my favourite parts of the whole trip :)
Eventually we reached Kanyakumari and found a parking spot. Unfortunately the first impression was of a very dirty city with a terrible stench. Essentially from just skimming the lay of the land, Kanyakumari was a small beach town. It wasn't a very well maintained tourist destination and was rather a little disappointing. That first negative impression stayed with us for the next few hours as we did a little tour of the city. We were anxious to leave as soon as possible.
We decided to just visit one big main point in this city and head back to Trivandrum. We chose to visit a little island built as a memorial to the famous Indian philosopher and monk, Swamy Vivekananda. The island was just a few kilometres from the main land and there was a small ferry that took visitors across the ocean. On the island was also a little temple dedicated to the goddess Kanyakumari (after whom the city is named). The goddess Kanyakumari is believed to be an incarnation of the goddess Parvati (wife of lord Shiv) and its believed this goddess stood on one foot and did a penance ,for which she is known for, on a particular rock on this island. There is even a small footprint left behind on the rock she stood on. Swamy Vivekananda came to this city on account of this particular spot and is also known to have sat in deep meditation performing his own personal penance. He was an Indian monk known for being a vehicle for bringing yoga and other ancient Indian philosophy to the West in the 20th century. He was known and well respected for his own spiritual practices and beliefs. He was a great literary personality to whom this memorial is dedicated to.
There was another temple also dedicated to goddess Kanyakumari on the main shores of the city, which is a major pilgrim site ( for women in particular). Due to a huge line up waiting to get into the temple, we decided to pass on going inside. From the outside we could see the architecting was not very different from the previous temples we had visited, and could guess it was built in a similar era by similar dynasties who had built the other ancient temples in the south of India. We snapped a picture from outside and headed for our car.
Kanyakumari is also believed to be a historically old city that was used for trade and commerce with the Roman empire. There are artifacts that have been found linking this city to Alexandria, the centre of the Roman empire at the time.
It really was disappointing that this little unique gem, known for its breathtaking natural beauty was not better maintained. It has so many natural unique factors as well as an interesting social history, that had it been better taken care of, Kanyakumari has the potential of being a great beach resort town attracting many more tourists. Unfortunately for us, the dirtiness of the city really made it difficult for us to have any desire to hang around.
We headed back to Trivandrum on route to our next destination.