We keep hearing people say all the time - 'from Kashmir to Kanyakumari..'. Kanyakumari is well known for being the southern tip of mainland India. It is also a popular tourist destination, place of pilgrimate, and the southernmost train station(naturally) in the country.
Overview. The local name for Kanyakumari is Kanniyakumari. Adjoining the seas three sides, Kanyakumari remains windy most of the time, keeping it a little cooler than rest of the plains of Tamil Nadu. Temperatures are moderate for most of the year, but peak summers are
best avoided. October to March is the ideal period to visit. With Travancore hills donning the northern parts, and greenery dominating the plains, Kanyakumari is a picturesque location.
Orientation. The town of Kanyakumari is a small place, and has many places worthy of visit that are within a kilometer radius. A few visit-worthy beaches and temple are far from the town, and can be 15 to 60 minutes away from the town.
Sightseeing and Activities
Confluence of the Seas. Kanyakumari is known as the place where the three sees meet. The southern tip is the confluence of Arabian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, which is also said to be a holy place.
Kanyakumari Temple. Near the southern tip is the ancient Kanyakumari Temple where Goddess Parvati resides as Kanyakumari. The beautiful temple built in stone is thousand years old, and is worth a visit.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial. The Vivekananda Rock is the place where Swami Vivekananda meditated for a few days. A memorial stands here today, with a structure built by Eknath Ranade, which contains a statue of the monk and a book shop. The island can be accessed by boat.
Vivekananda Kendra. A kilometer from the southern tip on the road to Nagercoil, Vivekananda Kendra is a cultural institute established by Eknath Ranade. The institution runs Yoga and meditation courses regularly, and has a collection of books in their library. The place also has pilgrims accommodation and can accommodate large groups. When you are there, you can see a film on Vivekananda's life that is shown in the institute's auditorium every evening. The institute is located in a large leafy environ where you can spot peacocks. It is adjoining a beach, where you can arrive early in the morning to see sunrise.
Vivekananda Memorial. Near the southern tip is a memorial built for the monk, managed by Vivekananda Kendra. The memorial has plates that tell the story of Vivekananda's life with picture, tracing from his youthful days with Ramakrishna Paramahansa to all the places he travelled to, spreading the message of awareness.
Sunrise and Sunset. Kanyakumari is the only place in mainland India where you can see both sunrise and sunset over the sea. Don't miss either of these.
Shuchindram Temple. Just 15 minutes by bus is Shuchindram village which has a beautiful temple dedicated to Shiva. There is a large tank outside the temple, and combined with the temple's tall tower, the place looks beautiful. Frequent buses from Kanyakumari are available to get to Shuchindram.
Padmanabhapura Palace. An hour by bus is the large beautiful palace of Padmanabhapuram. Built over 400 year ago in Karalan style, the temple has some ornate wood carvings worth seeing. To get to Padmanabhapuram, go to Thakkalai town which is one hour by bus on Kanyakumari-Trivendrum highway. The palace is a few kilometers away from Thakkalai town, and auto-rickshaws can be hired to get there.
Food and Accommodation.
Due to arrival of large number of pilgrims from all over the country, Kanyakumari's restaurants have adopted to serve every kind of food, including South Indian, North Indian, Gujarati and Marwari. You don't find many speciality restaurants, but most places can serve clean and basic food. Though there is plenty of accommodation, they all can sometime get full due to arrival of pilgrims in large numbers. Book ahead. TamilNadu tourism's hotel, which has all rooms sea facing is worth staying in.
How to reach. Kanyakumari has a train station, and is connected directly with many important places in the country. Nearest airport is in Trivendrum, which is 2 hours by road.