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Kanyakumari Travel Guide: Things to Do and Eat at the southernmost tip of India?!

kanyakumari beach

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

 

Have you ever been to the southernmost tip of India?

I have.

It’s where Gandhi’s ashes were released.  It’s where the Indian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea swap tides. It’s got a gigantic statue of a famous Tamil poet, Tiruvalluvar, standing out of the waters as regal as the Statue of Liberty.

Kanyakumari.

 

With my yoga pal, Chiaki, we boarded the local bus in Trivandrum and rode out.  Half a day, two bus stations and a bus blaring with Bollywood music videos later,… we rolled into Kanyakumari at night.

To tell you the truth, the town is small enough to see the main attractions in 3/4 of a day.

But I didn’t regret the trip; the  Tamil Nadu cape town is popular with Indian pilgrims and has an off-beat spirit of its own.

 

.  Overlooking Kanyakumari rooftops to the ocean        kanyakumari Seashell sellers lined up to write your name on a shell                                                                              . souvenirs Souvenirs to buy at the beach?                                                                                                                                      .sign Use dust bin & no plastics?                                                                                                                                    . covered political statue      Elections are near and political statues are covered.

 

Top Things to Do and Eat in Kanyakumari

1.   Temple of Goddess Kumari (or Kumari Amman Temple)

The goddess Kumari was supposed to be wed to the hand of Shiva, but through some act of divine intervention, was kept from this union so that she would remain a virgin and keep her Shakti powers (more info here).Temple of Goddess Kumari  was erected in her name and is said to be 3000 years old.

Men entering  Kumari Amman Temple are required to be bare-chested as a sign of respect. You may come across temple touts who’ll offer to walk you through the temple for a 50 rs donation fee. Albeit a bit rushed, I found it helpful, especially going through pujas (aka worship rituals) .

kumari temple

Men entering Goddess Kumari temple must be bare-chested

 

2.   Kanyakumari Beach ( aka bathing ghat)

Kanyakumari Beach is not the kind of beach you’d strip down to your bikini and lather your body with suntan oil as you lay out to catch a tan. Not that kind of beach at all.

You’ll see Indian folk splashing and frolicking around in the waters. But it’s a respected ghat located outside the Kumari Amman temple and as the southernmost tip where three oceans converge, it’s considered somewhat… holy. Watch women drying their saris

They say you can see both, the sunrise and sunset in Kanyakumari. The sunrise can be  seen through out the year from the Bay of Bengal.  The sunset can be seen from View Tower (a pink spiral building seen from the beach) through out the year, except June, July and August.

kanyakumari beach

Kanyakumari beach                                                                                                                                                   .kanyakumari beach                                                                                                                                     .  yoga at the beach                                                                                                                                   . kanyakumari beach Women drying saris at the beach                                                                                                                         .  woman drying saris        .                                                                                                                               Changing rooms at the beach                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

3.   Take a ferry to Vivekananda Rock Memorial and statue of Tiruvalluvar


You can see it from the town and the beach… a rock of an island and a giant statue.  The statue of first BC Tamil poet, Tiruvalluvar is 133 feet high to symbolize the 133 chapters of his epic novel, the Thirukkural. People often climb his foot base. It’s advised to get there before 11AM as the rock gets hot once the sun rises and it is tradition to dip your feet in the ocean and walk barefoot up the rock.

The other site is the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Constructed in 1970, there are two halls on the rock : one is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda; the other, is to the Holy Foot (or the footprint of Goddess Kumari).

I was unable to take the ferry out there but I’ve heard it’s worth the journey.  Hours : 7:30 am- 4pm.  Fee: 20rs to the statue;  10 rs to the memorial. Beware: lines can get long.

 

The 133 foot giant staute of poet, Tiruvalluvar, a first century BC Tamil poet                            .jhgk

 

4. Visit the Gandhi Mandapam

Did you know that one of Indian’s greatest saints had his ashes immersed in the waters here? Gandhi visited Kanyakumari in 1925 and 1937.

On January 1937 he wrote:  “I am writing this at the cape, in front of the sea, where three waters meet and furnish a sight unequalled in the world. For this is no port of call for vessels like the goddess. The waters around are virgin”

Gandhi Mandapam is a memorial building constructed on February 12, 1948,  housed his ashes before immersion.  Hours: 7.00 am to 7.00 pm. Entry fee:  Free

Gandhi museum

jhg

 

Must Try Foods in South India

Dosa

They’re like giant pancake/crepes occasionally rolled up like an enormous burrito. They’re made of flour and black lentil batter and stuffed with various things from onions, cheese, potatoes, vegetables and/or various spices. Often they’re served with some kind of sauce side dish such as yogurt, chutney, etc…

They’re a staple dish in India as a breakfast meal or as street food.

tiffin

Dosas

Vada

Not a big breakfast person but want a light morning snack instead? Vada is a donut fritter is made of batter from dhal, lentil, potato or flour.  It’s not as sweet as a donut but is flavored with different kinds of spices to give it a uniquely mild taste.

indian vada

Ulundu Vada (made from black lentils)

 Thali

Thali is a popular lunch and dinner meal you’ll find in South India and a few other regions.  Set in a metal platter or in true south fashion, a banana leaf, it comes with rice, some kind of bread (chapati or roti), dahl (aka lentil curry/soup), veggies, potato curry stew, spices and yogurt.  Ideally, you would eat this with your hands (click here for instructions), using the rice and bread to sop up the curries and stews. Travelers may shy away from eating in this fashion, but Indians claim it tastes better and they’re right! Give it whirl.

In the South it’s cheap (around 60rs or $1 USD)  but the further north you go (and to regions in which it’s not their traditional food), prices double.

south india

My South Indian thali gets a thumbs up from Chiaki.

Chai

Once you taste Indian masala chai, you might want to take it home. Chai (aka ‘tea’) is a popular milky black tea sweetened with Indian spices.  You’ll find this throughout India and it’s common to see chaiwallahs distributing these on the streets to thirsty customers.

morning chai

Morning Indian chai sold on the streets    

Additional Information  from Indian sites: 

Kanyakumari- Touching India’s Feet(Indian blogger)
Kanyakumari info.com 

More Photos from my trip to Kanyakumari, click here

Getting to Kanyakumari

From Trivandrum: Take government bus from Trivandrum station to Kanyakumari. There will be a transfer.

By train:  Trains go to all major cities in India like Chennai, Trivandrum , KochiBangaloreBombayDelhi, etc. Trivia: the longest train route in India is from Kanyakumari to Jammu.

By bus:  Regular buses are available from Thiruvananthapuram,the closest major hub. Buses are available from ChennaiMaduraiBangalore, etc…

Accommodations in Kanyakumari

List of Hotels from Kanyakumari Tourist website here
I stayed at Hotel Maadhini (photo below) . Spacious room, bathroom ensuite and good view if you ask for seaside.  Located near Kanyakumari beach. Perfect location.

hotel maadhini, kanyakumari

City Map of  Kanyakumari 

kanyakumari map

Map of Kanyakumari from the Kanyakumari Tourism site

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10 Comments

  1. arun kumar says:

    Really Very Nice Information about kanyakumari travelers.Analyse whole thinks for morning to night it is best for you.

  2. Waegook Tom says:

    I’ve never, ever heard of Kanyakumari before – thanks for posting! Of course, my favourite bit here is all about the food! That thali looks heavenly.

  3. John says:

    Great photos! I love the look of the place. Reminds me of Nepal, which is just above India.

  4. debbie ann says:

    I’ve been to Trivandrum, but didn’t get as far south as Kanyakumari, now I’ll have to go back! love the southern part of India

  5. Jen says:

    Recently, I started thinking about India as a vacation destination. I wasn’t sure if India was the perfect fit for me, but after reading this post…I realized that I wasn’t giving India it’s proper props. I would love to visit Gandhi Mandapam. That sounds like something I would love to experience. Thanks for opening my eyes to India.

    • @Jen: I think I might know how you feel. I wouldn’t think of India as a “vacation getaway” unless you went with a tour. But the country is so diverse, you can get a little bit of everything- mountains, desert, beaches,… I think of it as more of a travel adventure. You will see a lot, that will blow you away, but you’ll occasionally feel challenged by it. It’s a country I’d go back to over and over again and the beauty of it is sometimes in the challenge.

  6. GapDaemon says:

    Great post – love the pics and I need some vada in my life. YUM 🙂

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