The origin of name - Kanyakumari (also spelt as Kanniyakumari)
district is bounded by Tirunelveli district in the north and
northeast, by Kerala state in the northwest and confluence of
Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in the west and south. The coastline
is almost regular except for some points of land projecting
into the sea at Cape Comorin. Kanyakumari is the district headquarters
of the district of the same name.
At the southern most land tip of India, where the Arabian Sea,
the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kannyakumari,
an important pilgrim centre. Kannyakumari is famous for its
beach and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on
full moon days. Kanyakumari is also famous for its vast green
stretches of paddy fields, rich forests, coconut groves and
Kannyakumari has been named after the Goddess Kannyakumari
Amman who is the popular deity of the area. Legend has it that
the Goddess Parvati in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanniya
did penance on one of the rocks of this land's end to obtain
the hand of Lord Shiva.
Kanniyakumari district, once known as "The Granary of
Travancore" lies at the southwestern part of Indian peninsula.
It was in Travancore for a long time and then merged with Tamil
Nadu in 1956 under the State Linguistic Reorganisation Act.
At the southernmost tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the
Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kanyakumari, an
important pilgrimage site. The Kumari Amman temple, here, is
dedicated to Parvati as Devi - Kanya - the virgin goddess who
did penance to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva.
Two rocks reach out of the ocean, south-east of the Kumari
Amman temple. One of these is Sri Padaparai, where the footprints
of the virgin goddess are to be seen. On this rock, Swami Vivekananda
is said to have sat in deep meditation; and here stands the
Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970.
Location and Access
Kanyakumari is the southern most district of Tamil Nadu. The
district lies between 77o 15' and 77o 36' of the eastern longitudes
and 8o 03' and 8o 35' of the northern Latitudes. The District
is bound by Tirunelveli District on the North and the east.
The South Eastern boundary is the Gulf of Mannar. On the South
and the South West, the boundaries are the Indian Ocean and
the Arabian Sea. On the West and North West it is bound by Kerala.
Location: In Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu
Also Known As: Kuttalur
Main Attractions: Swami Vivekanand Rock Memorial, Kumari Amman
How to get there
Air: The nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram
(80-km), which is well connected with national and International
flights. From Thiruvananthapuram one can take a taxi or bus
Rail: Kanyakumari is well connected by train
services with all the places in India. Superfast trains connect
the southern most railhead of India with northern cities like
Jammu and Delhi. Intercity trains are running from almost all
the southern cities.
Road: Kanyakumari is connected by regular
bus services with Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai,
Mandapam (Rameshwaram), Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Tiruchendur, Tiruvelveli,
Trivandrum, etc. Town bus service, tourist taxis and auto rickshaws
Pilgrim Attractions of Kanyakumari
Temple Of Goddess Bhagavati
Few temples in India are more picturesquely located than that
of Goddess Bhagavati in Kannyakumari. It stands near where three
oceans meet: the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian
Sea. In its early form the temple seems to have been built by
the first Pandyas. The Nayaks expanded it later. There are three
Prakaras. The image of the Goddess in the sanctum is marvellous
in its serenity and beneficence. She carries a necklace in Her
right hand. The eastern gate, facing the Bay of Bengal is opened
only five times a year.
Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial
On the evening of December 25, 1892, Swami Vivekananda who
had come to Kannyakumari on pilgrimage swam to the rock and
spent the whole night there in deep meditation. He then resolved
to decide himself to the service of the Motherland and to spread
the message of Vedanta. Next year he attended the Parliament
of Religions in Chicago, an event of seminal importance in the
modern history of Hinduism. To commemorate his visit to the
rock a superb memorial has been erected. It attracts thousands
The Temple at Suchindram
Tradition connects the Kannyakumari temple with that in Suchindram
(13-km from Kanyakumari). This is a fine, large fane, with a
beautiful tank. It is one of the few temples in the country
where the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Isvara, are worshipped.
The Linga, named "Sthanumalaya", is in three parts;
the top represents Lord Shiva, the middle Lord Vishnu, and the
base Lord Brahma. "Sthanu" is a name of Shiva, "Mal"
of Vishnu, and "Ayan" of Brahma.
Kumari Amman Temple
Picturesquely situated overlooking the shore, this temple and
the nearby ghat attract pilgrims from all over India to worship
and to bathe. According to legend, Devi did penance here to
secure Shiva's hand in marriage. When she was unsuccessful,
she vowed to remain a virgin (kanya). The temple is open daily
from 4.30 to 11.45 am and from 5.30 to 8.30 pm, but non-Hindus
are not allowed into the inner sanctum. Men must remove their
shirts, and everyone their shoes on entering the temple.
Nagaraja Temple at Nagercoil
19-km from Kannyakumari is Nagercoil, which contains the celebrated
Nagaraja temple. The sanctum is a simple thatched shed, with
mud walls. It enshrines the King of Serpents. Tradition states
that a King of Kalakkad was cured of leprosy when he performed
penance in the temple. He then rebuilt it in the Kerala style.
He might have been Bhuthalavira Sri Vira Udaya Marthandavarma,
who ruled Venad, with Kalakkad as his capital, from 1516 to
1535. It is believed that snakebite is not fatal within a kilometre
of the temple. The fane has some Jain sculptures.
The temple of Swami Nelliappar and Sri Kanthimathi Ambal in
Tirunelveli (83-km from Kanyakumari) dates back at least to
the seventh century. Sambandar has sung it, and Ninrasir Neumaran,
the Pandya, is said to have commissioned the making of musical
pillars in a Mandapa in this temple. Originally, there were
two temples side by side, dedicated to Lord Nelliappar and Goddess
Kanthimathi. A Mandapa, the ?chain? Mandapa, built in 1647,
linked them. The oldest inscription belongs to the middle of
the tenth century.
Sankaranainarkoil has three shrines dedicated to Lord Sankaralinga,
to Goddess Gomathi Amman and, between these two, to Lord Sankaranarayana,
a combination of Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was built in the
eleventh century and was expanded later. The Gopura is of nine
storeys and is 38m high. The temple is famous for the miracles
the Goddess performs in curing illness.
Subramanya Temple in Tiruchendur
The temple of Lord Subramanya in Tiruchendur, also in the same
district, is one of the "Arupadai Veedus", or specially
sanctified residences, of the Lord. It is situated by the sea.
Traditionally, it commemorates the Lord's victory over Surapadma,
a demon. The Gopura, of nine storeys, is 42m high and was constructed
in the 17th century. It was renovated in 1983.
Kumarakovil is at the foot of the Velimalai hills in Kalkulam
Taluk (also spelt as Taluka), about 34-km from Kannyakumari.
The Lord Muruga Temple is built on the hillock about 200 feet
height in a lush green field of Paddy, Plantain and Coconut
trees. The temple is noted for architectural beauty. The side
of the Lord also enshrines goddess Valli, the spouse of Lord
Subramanya in the temple. In the right side of the temple there
is one big lake, suitable for boating.
Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin is located at the
southern most tip of India, where the Bay of Bengal, Indian
Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. A dip in the ocean here is considered
holy, but the sea is rough here and not fit for bathing. This
is the only place in India, where the sunset and moonrise can
be viewed simultaneously on a full moon day. The Vivekananda
memorial set amidst the sea is a place known to give mental
emancipation. The Cape festival is celebrated on a large scale
for three days at Kanyakumari. The festival is marked by a series
of cultural programs.