Kanyakumari lies at the tip of India’s mainland witnessing the confluence of the three oceans- Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. It can feel surreal for at certain times of the year one can see the sun set and the moon rise over three water bodies simultaneously. Providing a respite from the crowds, Kanyakumari welcomes tourists all year round. Do not miss to visit these places when in town.
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With a forest’s worth of intricately carved rosewood ceilings and polished-teak beams, this labyrinthine palace, is considered the finest example of traditional Keralan architecture today. Asia’s largest wooden palace complex, it was once capital of Travancore, an unstable princely state taking in parts of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Kumari Amman Temple
Legends say that goddess Kumari, a manifestation of the Great Goddess Devi, single-handedly conquered demons and secured freedom for the world. At this temple on the tip of the subcontinent, pilgrims thank her in an intimately spaced, beautifully decorated temple, where the crash of waves from three seas can be heard beyond the twilight glow of oil fires.
Four hundred metres offshore is the rock where famous Hindu apostle Swami Vivekananda meditated from 25 to 27 December 1892, and decided to take his moral message beyond India’s shores. A two-mandapa 1970 memorial to Vivekananda reflects temple architectural styles from across India. Ferries regularly shuttle out to the rock.
Just 1km north of Kanyakumari, this peaceful ashram (offering a variety of yoga retreats) is the headquarters of spiritual organisation Vivekananda Kendra, devoted to carrying out Vivekananda’s teachings. Its Vivekananda-focused ‘Arise! Awake!’ exhibition is worth a visit, and you can stroll to the sea past a beautiful lotus-pool-lined memorial to the swami.
Poignantly placed at the end of the nation that Gandhi fathered, this cream-coloured memorial is designed in the form of an Odishan (Orissan) temple embellished by Hindu, Christian and Muslim architects. The central plinth stored some of the Mahatma’s ashes before they were immersed in the sea; each year, on Gandhi’s birthday (2 October), the sun’s rays fall on the stone.
Looking like an Indian Colossus of Rhodes, the towering statue on the smaller island next to the Vivekananda Memorial is of the ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. The work of more than 5000 sculptors, it was erected in the year 2000 and honours the poet’s 133-chapter work Thirukural – hence its height of exactly 133ft (40.5m).