Kanyakumari also known as Kanniyakumari, formerly known as Cape Comorin.It is the southernmost tip of peninsular India. Kanyakumari town is the southern tip of the Cardamom Hills, an extension of the Western Ghats range. The nearest town is Nagercoil, the administrative headquarters of Kanniyakumari, 22 km (14 mi) away. Kanyakumari has been a town since Sangam period and is a popular tourist destination
Ptolemy's geography describes commercial relations between western India and Alexandria, the chief eastern emporium of the Roman Empire. He identified Kanyakumari along with the Gulf of Mannar as a center for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai (assumed to be the present day's Tuticorin), a place to the east of Kanyakumari, as an emporium of pearl trade.
Another ancient Greek book, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, contains sailing directions for merchants from the Red Sea to the Indus and Malabar, and even indicates that the coast from Barygaza (Baroch) had a general southward direction down to and far beyond Cape Komari.
Kanniyakumari District consists of those parts known locally as Nanjil Nadu and Idai Nadu. The names of the villages of the district such as Azhagiapaandipuram, Bhoothapandy, Cholapuram and Kulasekaram reveal that these places were governed by several rulers at different periods of time Nanjilnadu was under the rule of Pandiyas till the early 10th century and then under Cheras.
The Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks were under the rule of the Chera Dynasty. When the power of Chola declined due to the rise of Hoysalas and western Chalukyas, the Venad (Travancore) Chieftains (descendants of the central Chera family) took advantage of the situation and gradually established their hold on considerable areas in Nanjilnadu. Veera Kerala Varma, one such chieftain, styled himself as "Nanjil Kuravan". The annexation commenced by Veera Kerala Varma was to a large extent continued by his successors and completed by AD 1115.
For about four centuries, the Venad was ruled by powerful kings who were consistently making incursions into the Pandian territories. As a result, Vijayanagar kings proceeded against Venad. In 1609 Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai. Consequent on this, there was no serious threat to Nanjilnadu until 1634. During the regime of Ravi Varma and Marthanda Varma, Venad was disturbed by the internal strife.
Sanda Sahib of Arcot took advantage of this situation and attacked Nanjilnadu. Although Marthanda Varma was victorious in the battle of Colachel and defeated the Dutch armouries who helped the local feudatories, he could not cope with the threat from Sanda Sahib, which forced him to withdraw from the battlefield. After Marthanda Varma, Venad had weak rulers and as a result there was frequent interference by the British (who knew it as Cape Comorin) whose control was completely established over Venad and continued until 1947. From 1947 to 1956, it was under the personal rule of Maharaja of Travancore. During the period between 1956–1961, the administrative system has fallen in line with that of other districts in Tamil Nadu.
The area comprising the present Kanniakumari district was a part of the erstwhile Travancore state. In 1835, when the state was divided in to Northern and Southern divisions , this area formed part of Southern division and was placed in the charge of Dewan Peishkar, Kottayam. In July 1949, when the United States of Travancore and Cochin was inaugurated, the present Kanniyakumari area continued to be a part of Trivandrum district of Kerala State. The people of Agasteeswarem, Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode Taluks, which formed the southern divisions of the former Trivandrum District, were predominantly Tamil speaking. They agitated for the merger of this area with Madras State. The States Reorganisation Commission also recommended this. Accordingly, the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 was passed and the Kanniyakumari District was formed on 1st November 1956 , with the four Taluks, Viz., Agasteeswarem, Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode and merged with Tamil Nadu. Thiru. R .Thirumalai I.A.S assumed charge as the first Collector of Kanniakumari District on 01.11.1956.
Places of interest
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial
The place has been associated with great men like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi in whose names memorials have been here. They are very beautiful and add to the attraction of this place. The beautiful Gandhi Memorial completed in 1956, is situated as a memorial to the Father of the Nation. An urn of Mahatma Gandhi was kept here for public to pay homage before immersion. Mahatma Gandhi visited Kanniyakumari twice in 1925 and 1937. Mahatma Gandhi visited Kanniyakumari in January 1937. In 1948 his ashes were immersed in the sea waters in Kanniyakumari. In commemoration of this event a beautiful monument has been constructed here. Its central shape is 79 feet high representing the age of the Mahatma at the time of the sun at Mid day on 2nd October would fall on the peedam through a hole in the roof. The memorial was transferred to the administrative control of the Public (Information and Public Relations) Department from Public Works Department of Government of Tamil Nadu in the year 1978.Visting Hours -7 AM To 7 PM . Entrance Free
Thiruvalluvar is the immortal poet of Tamil Nadu and has given to the world Thirukkural. The memorial statue of Thiruvalluvar is in Kanniyakumari. The pedestal of the statue is of 38 feet height and the statue over it is 95 feet tall with a grand total of 133 feet for the entire sculpture. The 3 tier pedestal known as Atharapeedam is surrounded by an artistic Mandapa known as Alankara Mandapam with 38 feet height. Surrounding the Alankara Mandapa stand 10 elephant statues signifying 8 directions with earth and space down. The father of Sri. Rama, the hero of Ramayana was called Dasaratha as he was able to charioteer in ten directions. To help the tourists to worship the holy feet of Thiruvalluvar 140 steps are constructed inside the Mandapa. The pedestal with a height of 38 feet represents the 38 chapters in the Book of Aram in Thirukural and the statue of 95 feet on the pedestal represents the total chapters in Porul (70 chapters) and Inbam (25 Chapters). Thus the statue symbolically, and artistically signifies that the theme of Porul and Inbam are based on Aram. Visting Hours -8 AM To 4 PM
Another monument Kamarajar Manimandapam was raised and dedicated to Late. Sri. Kamarajar, The freedom fighter, Former Chief minister of Tamil Nadu, President of Indian National Congress. He was popularly known as Black Gandhi among the masses and king maker during congress regime. This monument was constructed where his ashes were kept here for public to pay homage before immersion into the sea. Visting Hours -7 AM To 7 PM . Entrance Free
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Vivekananda Rock Memorial is another place in Kanniyakumari which attracts large number of tourists. As its name implies, it is essentially a sacred monument, built by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to commemorate the visit of Swamy Vivekananda to “Shripada Parai” during 24th, 25th and 26th December 1892 for deep meditation and enlightenment.
From very ancient times, the rock has been regarded as sacred place. In Puranic tradition, it has been known as “Sripada Parai: meaning the rock, that has been blessed by the touch of Shripada feet of the Goddess.On the rock, is a projection similar in form to a human fort and a little brownish in complexion, which has traditionally, been revered as a symbol of Shripadam. According to legend, it was on this rock that Goddess Kanniyakumari did Tapas.
The memorial consists of two main structures, viz (i) Vivekananda Mandapam and (ii) Shripada Mandapam.
Visting Hours -8 AM To 4 PM.
Sunrise and Sunset
Sunrise can be seen in Kanniyakumari through out the year at Bay of Bengal. Sunset can be seen from View Tower through out the year except the months of June, July and August.
This is a 1000 year old temple and is said to have been built by the King Raja Raja Chola. The architectural style of the Cholas is quiet apparent in this temple. It is located near Railway Station. There are 16 inscriptions found in this temple that date back to the years 1038 A.D., 1044 A.D., 1045 .A.D.
Visiting hours:- From 06.00 to 11.15 A.M and 05.00 P.M to 08.45 P.M.
Suchindrum is a small village about 12 km. from Kanniyakumari and about seven kilometres from Nagercoil. This holy place is located on the bank of the river Pazhayar, adjoining fertile fields and coconut groves and the temple is dedicated to Sri Sthanumalayan. The word denotes Siva, Vishnu and Brahma as. Sthanu represents Siva, Mal represents Vishnu while Ayan represents Brahma i.e. Siva, Vishnu and Brahma in “One Form”. It is said that Thanumalaya Swamy temple is the only shrine dedicated to the Trinity in India. The present structure of the temple is the work of a number of persons spread over a number of centuries. It is a complex of many beautiful structures constructed at various times and is one of the best specimens and a store house of the Dravidian style of art and architecture.
Visiting Hours : From 04.00 AM to 11.45 AM and 05.00 P.M to 08.00 PM
Kanniyakumari Bagavathiamman Temple
Kanniyakumari derives its name from from Goddess Kanniyakumari Amman, the presiding deity of the area. The most prominent temple, the Kumari Amman, is dedicated to the goddess Parvathi as a virgin. The temple situated at the edge of the ocean for Goddess Kanniyakumari has the legendary account that once Banusura, the demon king got supremacy over Devas and meted out cruel punishment to them. The Devas performed a Yagna pleading to annihilate the evils. Goddess Parasakthi came to Kumari in the form of a virgin girl and began her penance. Meanwhile Lord Shiva fell in love with her and arrangements for the marriage were made in the midnight a particular day. Now the Devine sage Narada realised that their marriage would destroy the chances of annihilating Banusura because he could be killed only by a virgin. When Lord Shiva was on his way to Kanniyakumari from Suchindrum at Valukkamparai 5 kms south of Suchindram, Sage Narada assumed the form of a cock and crowed falsely heralding the break of dawn. Thinking that the auspicious time for the marriage was past, Lord Shiva returned disappointed. The Goddess too decided to remain virgin after that. Then, when Banusura attempted to win the Goddess by force, she killed him with her Chakragudha, and relieved the suffering s of Devas. Then she resumed her penance and remained virgin.
Timings from 4.30 AM to 12.15 PM & 4.PM to 8.15 PM. Annual Festivals are Car festival (May / June) and Navaratri (Nine Days) Festival (September / October).
The fort was rebuilt in the reign of Marthandavarma, the Venad King, during 1741-44. Under the supervision of De Lannoy, the Belgian General, who served as the Chief of the Travancore army; East India Company’s troops were stationed there till the middle of the 19th century. Foundry for the manufacture of guns, mortars and cannon balls were also established within the fort under the supervision of the General.
In the early days, the fort was of strategic importance. Prisoners captured in the campaign against Tippu were confined in this fort for sometime. It is further said that a brass gun 16 ft. long bored as a 22 ponder, found in the fort could not be removed even for a few yards by a large number of people, even with the help of 16 elephants.
A village has come up in front of the fort. The people who live here, are mostly agriculturists. A few of them are engaged in trade. Pottery making is the chief Industry among a section of the people. Now, the District Administration, with the help of Forest Department has set up a Biodiversity Park over here. Tourists can see deer, ducks, fountains, birds and over 100 varieties of trees inside the fort.
Mathoor Hanging Bridge
The Mathoor Hanging Trough is the tallest as well as the longest trough bridge in Asia, having a height of 115 feet and a length of one kilometre. Constructed in 1966, this bridge has become a place of tourist importance and hundreds of tourists visit this place. This is situated in Mathoor, hamlet of Aruvikkarai revenue village in Thiruvattar Panchayat Union.
St. Xavier Church
St.Xavier an outstanding and dedicated priest visited the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu from Goa, he never missed the opportunity of visiting Kottar in Kanniyakumari district which was a celebrated commercial centre at that time. During his stay at Kottar, he used to worship St. Mary in the small temple. He was popularly known as “Valiya Pandaram” among the people of Kottar. While he was at Kottar, he averted the invasion of Padagas on the people of Venad which was appreciated by the king, who became closer to the Priest. In recognition of Xavier’s services, the king allotted a land to him for the purpose of constructing a catholic church at Kottar. There was already a church in 1544 in the same place, where the St. Xavier’s church stands now.
The church records show that the church was built in the year 1600 A.D. In the year 1865, the Church was enlarged and the shrine of our lady was also renovated and vaulted over. In 1930, the church was raised to the status of a Cathedral.
In 1942, in commemoration of the fourth centenary of the arrival of St.Xavier in India, a beautiful tower to the saint, a grotto to Out Blessed Mother and a small shrine to St.Ignatius who sent him to India were constructed in the Cathedral premises. In 1955, the church was further extended and the chapel of Our Lady was incorporated into the enlarged church.
The Church of St. Xavier enjoys a great fame as a place of miracles from early times. The annual festival is celebrated during the month of November December lasting for 10 days.
The ancient historical town Padmanabhapuram is one of the four municipalities in the district is 55 Km. south of Trivandrum, about two km. east of Thuckalay and 35 km. from Kanniyakumari on the Trivandrum-Cape Comerin road. This town is surrounded by a fort with an area of 187 acres. The ancient capital of Travancore might be constructed before AD 1601. The palace with an area of seven acres, is situated in the very centre on the Padmanabhapuram Fort, amidst hills, dales and rivers. The palace which is situated in Kanniyakumari District is under the control of a Curator of the Archaeological Department of Kerala Government.
About 43 km. from Nagercoil this dam has been constructed. This dam in Kalkulam Taluk, was built during the days of the Maharaja Sri Moolam Thirunal across the river Kodayar. The construction of the dam was designed on the pattern of the Periyar dam in the Madurai district. The length of the dam is 425.1 mts. It has a catchment area of 204.8 sq.km. There is a camp shed provided at the dam side for the visitors. The weather is very pleasant and hence attracts a large number of tourists.
Peer Mohammed Durha
There is a durha named ‘Peer Mohamed Oliyullah Durha’ at Thuckalay named after the great philosopher Mohamed Appa, who was born in Tenkasi of Tirunelveli District. After spending sometime in spiritual pursuits in Peermedu of Kerala State he came and stayed at Thuckalay. Being a Tamil poet of great eminence, he wrote many books on philosophy. He had intimate relationship with the Kings of Chera dynasty. It is said that he laid foundation stone for the Padmanabhapuram Granite Fort.
Tirparappu Water Falls
The Kodayar makes its descend at Tirparappu and the water fall at this place is about 13km. from Pechiparai dam.
The Maruthuva Malai also known as the Marunthu Vazhum Malai the abode of medicinal herbs, forms from part of the western ghats. According to tradition, the Maruthuva Malai is a fragment of the Sanjeevi Mountain, a piece of which fell down here, and it was carried by Hanuman from Mahendragiri to Srilanka for healing the fatal wounds of Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, the epic hero. It stretches for more than a km, reaching a height of 800 feet at the highest point. It is about 11km. from Nagercoil.
Chitharal is a small village situated at a distance of 7 Kms., from Marthandam and 45 Kms, from Kanniyakumari. It is famous for the Rock-cut temple. Hillock at Chitharal has a cave containing Rock-cut sculptures of Thirthankaras and attendent deities carved inside and outside dating back to 9th Century A.D. It was converted into Bagavathy Temple in the 13th Century A.D. Cars and Vans can go upto the foot of the hill. One has to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the temple. The Jain images have been preserved Central Archeological Survey of India
The famous beach at Muttom is located about 16 kms from Nagercoil and 32 kms from Kanniyakumari. Muttom is famous for its beautiful landscaping and high rocks dipping into the sea at the beach-side. The sun set view point at Muttom is one of the most Panoramic view points in the district. Another attraction of Muttom is the century old light-house built by the British. However so far this beautiful beach has always been unsafe for the tourists since the rocks on which tourists go to see the sea view are slippery and a number of fatal accidents have occurred over the past few years. The district administration, decided to put protective stainless steel fencing across the entire dangerous areas and also to put up small open huts at the rock tops for the tourists to sit and watch the massive sea waves leisurely with protection from sun and rain. The fencing work and the small huts have already been completed to the delight of the tourists who mob the beach in hundreds during week ends. Sitting benches have also been constructed in a circle for the elders to chit-chat, relax and enjoy the sun set. Seeing the response of the tourists, the district administration has sanctioned for the construction of a toilet complex, a small shopping complex and a children's park at a cost of Rs.11.60 lakhs and there are plans to undertake sculpture - works across the rocks to add to the ambience of the area.
Sanguthurai is a beautiful beach resort and is very convenient for the local population
Vattakottai (Circular Fort)
VATTAKOTTAI (Agasteeswaram Taluk): Vattakottai, a granite fort six kilometres north-east of Kanniyakumari cape, forms the terminal of a line of ramparts known as the South Tranvancore lines built by Marthanda Varma to serve as defence for Nanjil Nadu. It is rectangular in shape and covers an area of about three and a half acres. The fort is enclosed by walls 25 to 26 feet high, including the parapet, 29 feet thick at the front, 18 feet at the corners and 6 feet at the rear.
The portion running into the area is the most strongly built under the orders of De Lannoy during the reign of Mathandavarma (1729-58). About 1810 A.D. the British forces under the command of St. Leger marched into Nanjilnad through the Aramboly pass and demolished the defence lines. The small river by the side of the fort, and the green vegetation all around add to the scenery of the fort and has now become a holiday resort and picnic centre.
It is said that there is a subway or tunnel about four feet width, supposed to connect the padmanabhapuram palace. Now the tunnel has been closed. On the northern side of the fort is found a slop to being the canon from the lower to the upper part of the parapet of the fort. There is well of about 6’ diameter. The whole wall around the fort is repaired and fresh mortar is being applied. Literary or epigraphical evidences are not in store to know much about Vattakotai. However, from the evidence left by the fort itself, it may be presumed that his fort was the military base to protect the Kumari port which was a rich pearl harbour. Since the emblem of the Pandya Kings was ‘Fish’ and we find this emblem in some of the places of the fort, it can be safely concluded that the Pandya Kings had control over this fort for sometime.
Next to Vattakottai, we can see the traces of a light house in Leepuram being called so after Colonel Lee who has destroyed most of the Kadukkarai Kanniyakumari Fort in 1806. This is a picnic spot, the sea is calm and suitable for bathing.
This beach is about 10 Kms from Kanniyakumari, is one of the best natural beaches of the district. The beach has shallow water and High sand dunes on the back ground. The District Administration has through its own funds and through the funds of MPLAD scheme, put up rest shelters, kudils and a view tower over here for the benefit of tourists. The tourists can reach the beach through the newly laid coastal road which is a very beautiful drive along the sea-coast.
Ulakkai Aruvi is a natural waterfall situated in Azhagiapandipuram village of Thovalai Taluk. Water is available in this water fall in the summer season. Many tourists come here for bathing and to enjoy the nature. The pathway to this waterfall lies in the Reserve Forest.
This is a natural dam constructed by T. Chitirai Maharaja. If supplies water to Nagercoil Municipality and it is also proposed to get water from here for Suchindrum and Kanniyakumari. It is very picturesque spot and ideal for picnics by groups.