Kanyakumari Travel Guide
Places to visit
places to visit
While Kanyakumari town has tourist attractions of its own, the district has many more, from centuries-old historic and religious sites to scenic places. The district is also rich in flora and fauna. A unique feature of Kanyakumari district is that it has all kinds of natural eco-systems. Thus, one can see beaches, mountain valleys, evergreen forests in the deep interior, rubber and clove plantations on the highlands, etc. - all in a 50 km radius of Nagercoil, the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District. Nagercoil is 22 km from Kanyakumari town.
The following are some of the many popular tourist attractions around Kanyakumari -
Baywatch Amusement Park, Kanyakumari
Vivekananda Memorial and Tiruvalluvar Rock at sunrise
View of the Western Ghats at Keeriparai
Chothavilai Beach, near Nagercoil
* Vattakottai Fort (literally, "circular fort") is an 18th-century fort overlooking the sea, located six kilometres from Kanyakumari. The small historic fort also gives an enchanting view of the sea around and the hills on the other side.
* Suchindram has the Sthanumalayan temple with a repository of art treasures belonging to several kingdoms. The temple is famous for its ninth-century inscriptions, musical columns, and 6-meter-tall statue of the monkey god Hanuman. The main deity in the form of a shivlinga represents Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, the trinity of the Hindu pantheon.
* The Panchappathi, five primary sacred places of Ayyavazhi are all situated within a fifteen-kilometre radius of Kanyakumari. It also includes the Swamithope Pathi (headquarters of Ayyavazhi), a famous temple in Tamilnadu, situated ten kilometres to the northwest. It is not structurally massive temple, but is known for its non-idolatry system of worship.
* Nagercoil has the St. Francis Xavier's church at Kottar, where the missionary, St. Francis Xavier resided when he did his missionary work in the nearby areas. In Nagercoil, there is also the Nagaraja Temple, and shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The entrance to this temple is reminiscent of the Chinese architecture of a Buddhist Vihar.
* Padmanabhapuram Palace is a large 17th century palace of the Travancore kings, made almost entirely of wood - the only one of its kind in India.
* Udayagiri Fort, built by King Marthanda Varma, has a foundry for casting guns. It is also the tomb-site of the king's trusted European general Captain De Lennoy. Udayagiri Fort is now a bio-diversity park, administered by the Department of Forests, Kanyakumari Division.
* Mathur Hanging Trough, near Thiruvattar in the District, is an aqueduct that carries irrigation water through a canal between two hills. The canal itself goes above a small river. Built on very high pillars, is one of the biggest aqueducts, both in height and length, in Asia. The view from the middle of the aqueduct of the surrounding hills and vegetation, and the small river flowing down below, is breathtaking.
* 'Baywatch' (water amusement-park), and Wax museum (the only one of its kind in India) are the newest attractions, located within 2 km from Kanyakumari.
* Chitharal Jain Monuments (about 35 km near Marthandam), impressive rock shelters and idols dated 9-11th Century.
* Thirunandikkara temple (about 20 km), rock-cut cave temple of Pallava art can be traced back to seventh and eighth century AD.
* Thengapattinam Beach. This beach is located on the west coast near Painkulam village in Vilancode Taluk. It is a fine beach adorned with coconut groves. It is also a magnificent estuary where the river meets the sea. Riding in a catamaran (small boat) in the river can be a pleasant experience which can be arranged through local fishermen. It is 35 km from Nagercoil, 12 km from Kuzhithurai and 54 km from Kanyakumari.
* Olakaruvi waterfalls, about 20 km from Nagercoil is on the middle of a hill and requires an hour's trek by foot from the base of the hill (better to go in a group, as it is a forested area)
* Keeriparai - for nature-lovers and adventurers - pristine and beautiful, places like Keeriparai haven’t been publicized much by the Forest Department for various reasons - Keeriparai hills (30 km from Nagercoil) and the nearby Kalikesam are good picnic spots - one can enjoy water rushing through small mountain streams - with pebbles and ferns all around. There are also a few small waterfalls in this area - the popular one being Vattaparai Falls. Maramalai, which is further up in the hills of Keeriparai is famous for Wild elephants.
* Kodhayar (called Kodhayar Lower Camp) – is about 60 km and takes travellers through some exciting motorable hill roads with some thrilling 'hair-pin bends' and U-turns - Kodhayar forests are famous for bisons. Access to some areas need prior permission from the Forest Department.
* Pechiparai Reservoir, about 30 km from the town,and also Perunchani and Chittar dams are a must-see for the nature-lover (with clouds touching the top of the hills around the dams on a misty day !).
* Thiruparrapu Falls, is a waterfall near Thiruparrapu. There is an ancient temple near the falls, which is popular among the locals and Keralites.
* Muttom, a coastal village, is another popular place with tourists. The terrain in this village and its surroundings is hilly and from a height one can have an idyllic view of the place, with a Portuguese style church standing in the middle of the village. The beach-area is somewhat rocky. There is also a 100-year old lighthouse. The lighthouse, though near the sea, is situated on a land mass some 105 feet above sea level. Another attractive feature of this area, is a ravine-like area with casurina trees near the seaside. This place with very popular with Tamil and Keralite film-makers, especially Tamil film director Bharathiraja.
* Sanguthurai Beach, about 8 km from Nagercoil is a palm-fringed and sandy beach. Sothavilai Beach is another good beach, about 7 km from the heart of town. Both beaches were hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, but authorities have taken steps to improve facilities again. There is a very good lagoon (estuary - place where the river meets the sea) at Manakudy - 10 km from the town.
* Mukkudal reservoir : Fresh water supply to Nagercoil is from the Mukkadal Reservoir, about 8 km from the town, in the interior - itself a very scenic place, with a small bushy island in the middle of the dam. The dam is surrounded by hills of the Western Ghats.
Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies - the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean. In his work on ancient India, Ptolemy had identified Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) along with the Gulf of Mannar as a center for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai, a place to the east of Kanyakumari as an emporium of pearl trade, also Travancore Census 1931 says that Paravars ruled that Coast and built the temple for their reverence to Sea Goddess..
There are multiple myths revolving around this place:
* According to Hindu legend, Kanya Devi, an avatar of Parvati, was to marry Shiva, but as he failed to show up on his wedding day, the rice and other grains meant for the wedding feast remained uncooked and remain unused thereafter. As the legend goes, the uncooked grains turned into stones as time went by. Some believe that the small stones which look like rice on the shore today, are indeed grains of the wedding that was never solemnized. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess who blesses pilgrims and tourists who flock the town.
* According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, which is literally translated to "hills where medicine lives".This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area. Marunthuvazh Malai is located near Kottaram about 7 km from Kanyakumari town on the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil highway.
* The sage Agasthya, who was himself an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. The reason why, some believe, so many medicinal herbs are to be found on these hills near Kanyakumari. There is even a village by the name Agastheeswaram close to the town, named after the sage. Today, there is a small Ashram on the middle of the Maruthuvazh Malai hill, which tourists visit (after a short trek from the base of the hill), both to visit the Ashram and also to take a glimpse of the sea near Kanyakumari a few kilometres away, and the greenery below.
Kanyakumari has been a great centre for art and religion for centuries. It was also an area of great trade and commerce. It was ruled by the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks. The architectural beauty of the temples in the area are the works of these rulers. Later Kanyakumari became part of the Venad kingdom with its capital at Padmanabhapuram. The king of Venad, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, established Travancore by extending his domain further north up to Azhva, during his reign from 1729 to 1758. By this, the present Kanyakumari District came to be known as Southern Travancore. In 1741, Maharaja Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch East India Company at the famous Battle of Colachel.
Kanyakumari was under the rule of the Paravar Kings till the downfall of Pandyas, and later by kings of Travancore under the overall suzerainty of the British until 1947, when India became independent. Travancore joined the independent Indian Union in 1947. The reign of the Travancore royals came to an end.
Under Travancore rule, the town, and the modern administrative district that bears its name, Kanyakumari District, progressed both socially and economically. Still a significant part of population study and speak Malayalam as their mother-tongue. The culture followed by Kanyakumari people is mixed and has more influence from Travancore.
In 1949, Kanyakumari became part of the reconstituted Travancore-Cochin State. Around this time, a popular agitation for the amalgamation of Kanyakumari District with Tamil Nadu by the Tamil-speaking people of the district intensified, under the leadership of Marshal Nesamony
Kumari Thanthai Marshal Nesamony was instrumental in the merger of Kanyakumari district with Tamil Nadu in 1956 during the linguistic reorganisation of states. Kanyakumari was integrated with Tamil Nadu (then known as Madras State) as per the language-based reorganisation of States.
Christianity arrived in South India around AD 52 through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ. However, European missionaries, who arrived in the 16th century, propagated Christianity in the area. St. Francis Xavier (April 7, 1506 – December 2, 1552) was the pioneer in preaching Christianity in the present day Kanyakumari district. Islam is believed to have entered the southern part of India through Kanyakumari during the early part of the eighth century AD through traders and missionaries who came through sea-routes. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have also contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of the region.