It turned out to be the end of India. And as I walk towards the southernmost point, I can already see him with his imposing posture, big beard and three fingers up. He rises above the confluence of three seas and watches over the state of Tamil Nadu. But who is he?
Kanyakumari (Tamil: கன்னியாகி) or rather Kanniyakumari and formerly Cape Comorin is the southernmost place on the mainland of India. It has a population of around 20 000 and is home to the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean. In addition, it is one of the best places to see the sunrise in the morning and to see that glowing sphere set again in the evening. And finally, Kanyakumari has a number of special sights in store for you, including a 3,000 year old temple and two special islands. Feel like it now? Then read on and find out all about this surprisingly fascinating place…
Unfortunately, it is not the best time to travel because of Covid19. But fortunately we can always keep dreaming and finding inspiration for the moment when everything is really going in the right direction and we can pick up our old life again.
The history of Kanyakumari – A virgin girl
The meaning of the word Kanyakumari is ‘virgin girl‘. It refers to the goddess who has been worshipped in Hinduism since Vedic times (1500-500 BC). In short, her story boils down to the fact that she was chosen because of her virginity to eliminate the strong demon Banasura.
She left for the southernmost town to meditate and receive the blessing of the god Shiva. He was impressed by her meditation and spontaneously fell in love with her. He proposed a marriage and she answered with a yes. Since Kanyakumari can only defeat the demon Banasura as a virgin, the divine sage Narada invented a ruse.
The marriage between Shiva and Kanyakumari was to take place at midnight. Narada went to the place where Shiva lived, turned into a rooster and crowed just before midnight. Shiva was frightened, thought a new day was approaching and left with the idea that he had missed the wedding. He left Kanyakumari in tears.
The demon Banasura seized his chance and proposed marriage. Kanyakumari refused and a fight ensued. The virgin girl won and defeated the demon. Kanyakumari hoped to marry Shiva and continued to meditate until infinity.
Sights – Impressive places in and around Kanyakumari
By now you know the meaning of this place. But Kanyakumari has more to offer than a special historical story. And that starts with the 2 islands you can’t miss.
1. Vivekananda Rock Memorial – Ambassador of Hinduism
The only way to get to these islands is by boat. The wait is at least half an hour, because the boat leaves in 10 minutes. And it is quite busy there, even though it is in the afternoon. But once in the ramshackle ferry you are within 10 minutes sailing at Vivekananda Rock Memorial. An orange lifejacket is compulsory and everyone is generally made aware of this.
The first island is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda (Calcutta, 1863-1902) was a Hindu monk from Calcutta. He was one of the most important representatives of Vedanta. This current within Hinduism assumes that man is essentially divine. By practicing spiritual disciplines this divine status can be achieved.
Swami Vivekananda is venerated in India because he gave the doctrine of the Vedanta international prestige. He did so in 1893 at the World Religious Conference in the United States. It made such an impression that he was invited to give lectures all over the world. At the end of the 19th century, Hinduism once again belonged to one of the world’s religions. Vivekananda can rightly be seen as an important ambassador of this age-old spiritual philosophy.
In 1970 a Memorial was started in memory of Swami Vivekananda. Two small temples stand here, made in West Bengali and Tamil Nadu style. But why was a Memorial built on this spot?
It is believed that it is here, on this rock south of Kanyakumari, that the ideas of Vivekananda came about. A year before the conference in the United States, he sat on this rock to think deeply. Eventually this led to a worldwide increase in popularity for Hinduism.
2. Thiruvalluvar Statue – Philosopher of ethics and morality
After taking several pictures it is time to continue. The next island is waiting for me. The trip to the statue of Thiruvalluvar takes at least 2 minutes. You are not obliged to get out of the car and many Indians don’t do that either. And then they miss that big statue of Thiruvalluvar.
We know very little about Thiruvalluvar’s life. It is suspected that he must have lived somewhere between 500 BC and 500 AD. Nice and wide, but it is no different. The only thing we do know is that he was a poet and philosopher from the state of Tamil Nadu.
His most famous work is the Thirukural, a book of 1330 verses about the everyday virtues of an individual. It is considered one of the most important works on ethics and morality. In India this book is still a source of inspiration for how one should live.
The statue was made by the sculptor Ganapati Sthapati in 2000 and weighs 7000 tons. The sculpture is a reference to his book Thirukural and is full of symbolism. It is better 133 feet (40.6 meters) high and symbolizes the 133 chapters of his book. Also the right hand of the statue is pointing with 3 fingers in the air. This is a reference to the 3 goals in life according to Thiruvalluvar: love, health and virtue.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Kanyakumari?
Transport – How to get to Kanyakumari?
How do I get there? By boat, unless you like to swim. But of course that is not allowed.
In Kanyakumari, located in the state of Tamil Nadu, there is also the southernmost train station of India. It is about 15 minutes walk from the ferry. The bus station is 1.5 km west of the ferry and can be reached on foot or by bus.
Finally, the boat’s Ferry costs 20 rupees. Admission to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue is free, only the first one does not allow shoes to be worn.
Opening hours: Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but in November until 5 p.m., according to my own experience.
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