A journey to land's end

private retreat

attractions The statue of Thiruvalluvar, near Vivekananda Rock

Mentioned by Greek writers Ptolemy and Periplus as early as 1st and 2nd centuries of the Christian Era, referred to in Sangam literature, Kanyakumari was at later times known to European travellers as Cape Comorin. Surprisingly, the anglicised form of the name still lingers on in some maps and guide books, indicating perhaps an unbroken tradition in maintaining historical connections.

Sandwiched between the hilly terrains of eastern and western ghats, Kanyakumari is replete with myths, legends, relics and monuments. Careful planning of the day is necessary to get the best out of the region. Rushing to catch a glimpse of the sunrise is indeed the most exciting event of the day.

Nearby is the temple of Kanyakumari, a virgin goddess with a garland in her hand, waiting for a suitable groom to arrive at a stipulated time. Legend has it that a demon had acquired the boon of immortality and with the exception of the virgin goddess, no other mortal could destroy him. Narada is said to have prevented Shiva from reaching on time to wed her. So the goddess remained a virgin and kept destroying all the evil forces in the world. It is believed that the ornaments decorating the image of the goddess were so bright that they attracted the attention of sailors cruising the high seas.  

Right behind the temple, at the confluence of the three seas, a ghat has been built to enable devotees to take a dip in the holy waters of the sangam. The belief that a bath here washes off all the sins prompts Hindus in large numbers to perform this ritual.

Not very far off is the jetty from where passengers are picked up and ferried across in a motorised launch to the famous Vivekananda Rock, the rock on which Swami Vivekananda sat in deep meditation for two days in the year 1892. On a similar rock a little further is the statue of Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar, the author of Thirukkural, dated to pre-Christian era, upholding good values and the judicious use of wealth. Interestingly, the gigantic statue which has been sculpted in recent times, appears to be the prototype of Agastya figures carved by sculptors of the Pallava period. About 95 ft tall and weighing 700 tons, the statue dominates the seascape. There is also a memorial for Mahathma Gandhi at the spot where his ashes were stored till their immersion.

To the west of the temple are numerous mini beaches. The eternal play of waves rushing towards the rocks and receding away from them hold an endless fascination for the young and the old alike.

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