The sun rays hit my face as I walked along the coastal beaches of Cape Comorin. The tides ebb and flow. I am now standing at the southernmost point of Indian mainland Kanniyakumari. The name itself has a story. “Kanya” means virgin, and “kumari” means princess/girl. The virgin princesses- legend states that Kanya Devi, an avatar of Parvati was set to many shiva but the latter does not show up on his marriage day. Thus, the princess remained a virgin forever and the rice bought for the marriage was left unused and turned to stones as years passed by. Kanya devi temple is famous in Kanniyakumari from where Kanya Devi blesses her devotees. There is also another story stating that the burnt shoulder of Sati fell down there raising the kundalini shakti there. I walked a few steps forward. A man asked, “Madam, do you want a ferry ride to Vivekananthar rock?”. Well, why not. Me and my friends boarded the catamaran.
Jenny took pictures of us. On our way to Vivekananda rock memorial, we halted at the Valluvar statue located on a small island little far from the mainland. The majestic Valluvar statue is a stone sculpture 41 meters tall that is 133 feet height. Tiruvalluvar is an ancient poet and philosopher who wrote Tirukural, the world-famous moral book. The three cantos of the book are virtue, wealth, and love. I wondered at its magnificence. It survived the tsunami in 2004 and had been constructed beforehand to withstand even harsh earthquakes. The statue is
chemically treated once in four years to prevent corrosion. Really it’s a masterpiece. After our visit to the Valluvar statue, we visited Vivekanandhar Rock Memorial.
People crowded the Vivekanandhar rock memorial. It is a popular tourist destination in Kanniyakumari. The memorial stands on twin rocks 500 meters away from the mainland. It was built in 1970 in honor of swami Vivekanandha who had said to have attained enlightenment by meditating there. There is also another story revolving around the rock which says that princess sati to meditated on the rock to marry shiva. Later Vivekanandha mandapam was built which has three sections namely Dhyana mandapam, Sabha mandapam and Mukha mandapam. That’s quite interesting. we came out of the mandapam and boarded the boat.
Kanniyakumari is a place where three oceans meet, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian sea, and the Indian ocean. Their waters are distinct. Their confluence is known as Triveni Sangam. it is considered to be sacred and powerful. People bathe there to wash away their sins and to be freed from the cycles of birth and death. My stomach has begun to growl. it is already late in the evening. As soon as we reached the land, we went in search of food.
The aroma of sea foods hit my nose. We went to a roadside fish stall and bought fish fry. So many varieties and price accordingly to it. Wow, it tasted yummy. Sea fishes always have a unique taste and aroma. According to me, beach stalls are best for serving them. We walked past a few shops for a drink. “Pasha Sarbat and Nungu Sarbat”, the board caught my attention. Me and my friends ordered both. it’s fantastic and really a natural energy boost. Pazha Sarbat is made from pulps of various fruits like apple, mango, banana, pineapple, etc.. and Sarbat whereas Nungu Sarbat is made from Nungu which is palm fruit and Sarbat. Both are refreshing for the summer. We also bought a plate of Pazha baji and Munthiri kothu and returned to our room. Those indigenous snacks were really good. Pazha baji is a fried snack in which a whole ripe banana is dipped in maid batter and fried whereas Mundhri kothu is a pulse-stuffed fried sweet snack. Both are mouth-watering. People here are friendly and warm-hearted.
We stayed at an inn nearby the beach road. My friends edited our photos and posted them on our blog site. I sat near the window and the cool breeze hits me.
“Riya, get up”, it’s already late. My friend Renu threw me out of my sleep and we boarded the omnibus to Kanniyakumari early in the morning. It took nine hours for us to reach the place. After checking in the inn, we went sightseeing. Today is a long day…..I completed my diary and went to sleep.
The next day we woke early in the morning and went to see the sunrise beside the Valluvar statue. This is the only place in India where we could see sunrise and sunset from the beach. Locals said that sunsets are most famous on full moon days. The sunrise is beautiful and a goose-bumping experience to see. The dawn gives us an immersed in confidence. Its rise teaches us not to give up when darkness surrounds us. someday our life too will rise to shine like a sun. Later we had our breakfast in an age-old shop in Kanniyakumari. Appam and Meen curry is my all-time favorite breakfast. Since it’s nearby Kerala, Puttu is also being served there. Tapioca and fish curry is another awesome combo there. But renu liked idiyappam and Thenga pal more than all.No doubt, she really has a sweet tooth.
Later we visited Our Lady of Ransom Shrine which is dedicated to Mother Mary and got the blessings of the almighty and went to see Gandhi memorial. Gandhi memorial building was built in remembrance of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation who was shot dead in 1948. After his death, his body was cremated and the ashes were filled in 12 different urns and sent to different parts of our country to pay respect and condolence. One of those urns came to Kanniyakumari to be dissolved in Triveni Sangam. Gandhi himself visited Kanniyakumari twice in his lifetime. One during 1925 and another in 1937.
Later a memorial was built in the Orrisa style of architecture around the place where his ashes were kept for respect. It is built in such a way that the mid-day sunlight would fall straight on the table where his ashes were once kept for respect through the hole at the top of the building. The central structure of the building is 79 feet in height which symbolize the age of Mahatma Gandhi when he died. Mahatma Gandhi’s photographs were displayed in the memorial. Photographs are taken at various stages of his life. Utter silence is maintained inside the building. Cameras are not allowed inside the building. Later we went shopping. Wide varieties of sea shells and handicrafts were kept for sale by local vendors. painted shells, unpainted shells, large, small, medium, and in all varieties and designs. Even customized shells and handloom sarees are there for sale. These shops are located in Sannadhi street which leads to Kummari Amman temple. This temple is said to be 3000 years old which is dedicated to a virgin goddess and is one of 52 shakti peethas. The diamond nose ring of Kumari Amman is notable. She was also known as Arulmigu Bhagavathy Amman.
After a short break, we went to visit the Thanumalayan temple. It is also known as the Sthanumalayan temple which is located in Suchindram. This temple is of the importance to both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sects.” Stanumalayan” means Tirumurtis. “Stanu “stands for Siva, “mal” means Vishnu and “Ayan” denotes Brahma. It was built by Cholas and is a proof of the Dravidian architecture. It has two gopurams that are two gateway towers with which the eastern gate is the tallest. This place is most famous for its musical pillars. Four musical pillars which are in the Alangara mandapam are carved out from one single stone. The four emit different musical notes/sounds when struck. They stand 18 feet in height majestically. There is also a dancing hall here which has 1035 pillars and also a big nandhi. The hanuman statue here also is famous apart from Sthulamalayan. The hanuman statue here is made from a single granite block and is one of the tallest statues in the world. It is 22 feet tall and even has an interesting historical story to it. it was said that during the Tipu Sultan invasion the statue was buried underground and was forgotten. Later in the 1930s it is rediscovered and renovated. Now, it has both the Kerala style of architecture and the Tamil style of architecture embedded in it.
Wondering about its artifacts, we entered a coffee shop nearby the temple. It is owned by a Keralite fondly called as ‘Chetan’ by the people around there. They served hot filter coffee and tea with butter biscuits. They also prepare pazham pori, and baji. masala bondas on evening. Then we went to see Mayapuri wonder Wax Museum which has real-life size wax statues. The statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin, and elephants are good. Their craftsmanship is admirable.
It is close to the railway station. Entry fees are around a hundred rupees. The staffs there are very friendly and the wax statues and 3 Dimension models show the craftsmen’s hard work. Ten to twelve wax statues of both Indian and international personalities are there. A five-minute film of 9 Dimension is shown. The surprising thing is cameras are allowed here. “Very good for us”, Priya said. We took a few pictures and boarded our cab. It is already 1.00 P.M. so stopped at the nearby restaurant to have our lunch. They serve a variety of cuisines there. Indian non-vegetarian meals are a must-try one in the Dravidian land.
Later we went to Vattakottai fort which is located to the north of Kanniyakumari. Vattam means circular. It is also known as a circular fort built in the 18th century with granite blocks. This fort is now protected by the archaeological department of India. The fort is ancient slightly damaged but renovated. It says the story of its construction. On one side it has a sea view and on another side, it has a hill view. After that, we returned back to our inn.
“I am exhausted”, Priya exclaimed. We had our supper and went to sleep at 7.30 P.M. The next day after our breakfast, we visited Tsunami Memorial Park and logged off our inn. We booked a cab to the famous Pathmanathapuram palace located in Kerala but near to Kanniyakumari. Padhmanathapuram is the capital of the Travancore empire. Padhmanathapuram palace is located at a distance of 37 kilometers from Kanniyakumari. This palace was built in the 16th century totally with wooden interiors. This palace has the main entrance on the west side. It is built on Kerala architecture. the palace consists of the king’s council chamber, and performance hall.
Thai Kottayam was constructed before 1550 as a southern palace. It is a four-story building holding royal treasury on the ground floor. The first floor has the king’s bedroom and the second floor is for the king’s resting and study room. The top floor is for worship and the other rooms in various areas of the palace are used for storage of weapons The palace has various unique articles and artifacts of the ancient era. Some of them are wooden furniture, stone sculpture, paintings, brass lamps, a variety of weapons, paintings, wooden and well-polished stone cots, etc…the palace is ventilated well with windows and is one of the best palaces in India to visit. There are also various Chinese jars and gifts by Chinese merchants, a wooden cot made from 64 different trunks of medicinal trees. For visitors, convenient travel guides are present inside the palace who are well versed in English and other south Indian languages. This palace is really a wonder and a must-visit palace.
After that, we had our lunch in a hotel nearby. Traditional Kerala meals were served which includes rice, sambar, poriyal, aviyal, pachidi, kichadi, errisery, apalam, rasam, kootu, salt and payasam. Our stomach felt heavy but there is a long way to go so no nap. We started traveling towards our last destination Courtrallam.
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Courtrallam is in tenkasi district. Courtrallam has five falls, tiger falls, and the main fall. Five falls have five streams of water running down from the hill whereas tiger fall is juvenile-friendly and is suitable for every age group. Tiger falls has its name because in the old times it is said that tigers came there to drink water and to take rest in the caves. But nowadays the water is used for irrigation. The main fall is also known as Peraruvi with a height of 60 meters gigantic and fast flowing. People bathe here while youngsters swim in the waters enjoying their vacation. We too had our fun there. That night at 10.30 we boarded the bus to our home town leaving the wonderful place behind and taking the ever glad memories with us.