Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kanyakumari - The virgin meeting point of Seas

We are on a journey to Southern most tip of India. The first two parts of the commentary can be read here. Part 1 - Padmanabhapuram Palace, Part 2 - Thottipalam, Asia's numero uno aqueduct.

The Kanyakumari Trail is yet to reach its intended destination. The marvellous Padmanabhapuram Palace and Asia's Numero Uno Aqueduct has sure left a lasting impression on us. We are now back in NH 47 zooming past the Thuckalay junction. Nagercoil is in sight, which is the last busy township before Kanyakumari. It is already dusk and the hopes of seeing a sun set at Kanyakumari is laid to rest, but no complaints as we had experienced something more interesting. More than the road side sign boards, the sign board of a hotel is appearing at each kilometer which is ensuring that we are in the right track.

The place "Kanyakumari" has many myths associated with it, out of which one is regarding the "Kanya Devi" an avatar of Parvathi, who was set to marry Lord Shiva at this place, but the marriage never happened and the Kanya Devi remained virgin thereafter.

The terrain is mostly plain, with lots of plantain and paddy cultivation on both sides of the road and some rocky hill on the eastern side.

The smooth roads ensured a comfortable journey eventhough overtaking is a pain in the two lane roads.

The hotel booking was done two days back, by simply googling and based on what is written in the hoteliers website. The person on the other end of the phone was quite cordial too and had mentioned that the Hotel is real close to the sea and we can see the sun rise from the hotel itself. The name of the hotel was Samudra. Let us now make a call to the hotel as we can see that Kanyakumari is in sight and we are now in the middle of a lot of road side shops and the road sides are full of beach sand. The hotelier is telling me to just drive down towards the Kanyakumari Temple and this hotel is just before the temple.

I can see that the motorable road is ending near the temple, so let me just check on the left side of this road which is completely filled with shops. Oh yes there is the hotel, it too looks like a road side shop, and it has a parking lot on the other side of the road.

The check in is now complete and we are given a room in the ground floor itself. The first impression is ok as the hotel looks clean and neat eventhough cramped, but it is a budget hotel. The room is neatly arranged and contains all the bare essentials. There is one window on the extreme end. We can just open it and see. Wow the best part of the hotel is here. I can spend the whole night sitting here and gazing at the well lit Vivekananda Memorial and Thiruvallur statue standing tall amidst the lashing waves of Bay of Bengal.

These monuments reminds me of the Tsunami images which lashed this shore in 2006, when the waves rose as high as the Thiruvallur statue which stands tall at a height of about 133feet. How brutual it would have been. The statue is so imposing and its location surely makes it one unique construction. I am not allowed to stand here at the window for a longer time as my wifey is calling me for a round of window shopping and a walk around the town.

Just step out of the hotel and we are in the midst of a business centre. Sarees, TShirts, handicrafts, sea shells, fancy ornaments all adorn the shops and life here is surely very lively with the cool sea breeze making it an interesting walk. There are some shops which had a huge board showing "Rs.5 shop" meaning you can take any item and the cost is Rs. 5. It seems shopping is the order of the day and it is already 10pm. The day long sojourn which comprised of the walk in Padmanabhapuram palace, the tread up the Thottipalam and the stroll around Kanyakumari means some tired legs around. So its time for a good night sleep and most importantly we have to get up before the surise coz this is one place closer to my home town where I can see the sunrise from the horizon.

The alarm is ringing, it is still dark around, suddenly the thought that we are in Kanykumari sunk in. Jumping out of the bed I looked out through the window, it is still dark. It is 5.50am the sun is not yet up. But watch those monuments, aren't those beautiful.

The schedule time for sun rise is 6.10 am and already we could see some activity in the corridor as people who were staying in the hotel has started moving to the terrace to have a good view of the sunrise. We can also move to the terrace.

The view from here is majestic. Watch the vast sea and suddenly we feel miniscule, a sort of humbleness creeps in. We are dwarfed when compared with the vastness, we are witnessing the meeting point of three major water bodies, the Arabian sea, The Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean,

The lights of the monuments are now switched off, but the silhoutte is still imposing

Still some time is left for the sun to rise, we can have a look around. Next to this hotel is the Kanyakumari Devi temple, whose gates towards the seas are opened only once in each year. This temple has a history that Ships sailing through the sea, mistook the glittering diamond nose ring adorning the Devi's idol as a symbol of some port and were misguided and crashed after hitting the rocks near the beach. The door to the sea was henceforth closed and opened only for 4 or 5 days in each year.

The township of Kanyakumari is completely packed with hotels and shops of all kinds and it seems quite adhoc from here

The boat jetty from where the trip to Vivekananda rock is visible from here. Also watch the fishing boats resting on the seashore getting ready for a workout, the major source of bread and butter for the beachside town apart from the flourishing tourism industry. The color of the sky behind the clouds in the horizon is slowly changing.

A huge crowd has gathered at the beach side to witness the rising sun and also to feel the freshness of the air gushing across which is supposed to have great medicinal value, a belief associated with the presence of Marunthuvazh Malai - a hill adjacent to Kanyakumari which is an abode of medicinal plants located close to Kanyakumari.

Some fishermen is already at work and see how they balance in the small fishing boat which was rising up and down against the lashing waves, a scene reminiscent of the sea surfing.

The color of sky is quickly changing and the moment we have been waiting for has arrived. The clouds at the horizon are spoiling the show as it is blocking the view and any hopes of seeing the magnanimous glowing fire ball at the horizon is lost, but vivid colors of the sky is exemplary

Let us wait for the fireball to rise above the clouds. The color of the sky is quickly changing. The clouds are adding more color to the frame. Finally the sun is out of the shackles of the clouds.

A postcard frame is in my front, and there is a sudden surge of creativity. Oflate silhoutes are a craze for me and creating them is easy when there is a bright object in the back ground.
My kids are enjoying the cool winds blowing across us and they were ready to pose.

How about holding the glowing object in hands.

Unknowingly an illusion creeped into the above photo of my wife's sister's daughter. Watch it with your eyes close to the computer screen and then a little away from the screen. Watch how the girls face orientation changes.

Standing here watching the rising sun, the bright colors created by the presence of Sun, the black clouds creating unique patters, the timeless waves lashing against rocks and enjoying the heavy winds is making me loss account of the time.

There seem to be some activity going on near the boat jetty and some white TShirt clad gentlemen appeared on the scene all of whom looked like to be part of some marathon event. The presence of police made it evident that some VIPs are on the scene too. The Queen's batton relay for the Commonwealth Games to be held at New Delhi is going to start from this point now. Eventhough the event was big, somehow the controversies surrounding it and the bigwigs aiming only at personal monetary gains has really given this thing a real bad image that I felt like all those who are here are corrupt and don't want to watch the flagging off the Queen's baton relay, a common man's way of reacting to the corruption and looting present in the democratic set up of India.

Leave aside the corruption of the bureaucracy, the ambience was exquisite, the colors were quite vibrant, enough to radiate energy for a great day ahead. The rising sun was not seen clearly because of the cloudy morning, but still it was mesmerizing as can be seen from the images. This place sure has some kind of attraction quotient.

Time to get ready and take a stroll around this beach side destination.

It is now 9am and we are all ready after having a good vegetarian breakfast.

The street side is bubbling with activity, businesses were flourishing in different modes. There was this physically challenged little fellow selling some colourfull handicrafts.

But the most thriving and business was the beautiful sea shells neatly packed in a long cover. Every other person in this street seems to be selling them and the price they quote for it is really exhorbitant in the sense that a whole packet intially quoted as Rs.500 could eventually be bought as low as Rs.100.

The shops on the street side are just being opened.

Now we can go and check whether we can get a ticket for the boat journey to Vivekananda Rock memorial. Alas the queue seems to last an eternity.

The boat idea is dropped and we can take a walk towards the temple side.

The walkway outside the temple premises along the beach side is nothing short of a great experience. All along this route this is the live painting we see on our side.

Boats keep ferrying to and fro the rock memorial.

Let us have a closer look at the boats anchored at the Vivekananda rock and the tourists alighting for a visit to the beautiful memorial.

Today I lost the oppurtunity to visit the place but thankfully my camera gave me a glimpse of what is like in those two marvellous structures.

We are now near the entrance of the Kanyakumari Temple facing the beach, a temple whose architecture is typical of the temples found in TamilNadu.

Here also there were lots of road side vendors and the popular business being fortune telling. Some were using a parrot as a means of getting a card based on which the future of his customer will be predicted. The parrots are well tamed and indeed it is a beautiful creation by the almighty, the color combination of this creature is unparalleled.

A little more stroll ahead and we are in a sprawling concrete laid ground adjacent to the beach.

On one side of this ground the sea shell vendors are present in huge numbers, with their seashell collection adding a lot of color to the scene.

There are not many beaches in Kanyakumari where one can take a dip due to the presence of rocks. Eventhough this one is rocky there is enough space for a good bath here.

Lot of beautiful structures are also present here. A beautiful gate christened "Kanchi Kamakodi Peedom" is nearby.

The Gandhi Memorial is also in sight. This memorial is built at the place where the urn of the Father of Nation - Mahatma Gandhi was kept before immersion. The structure is so designed that on Gandhiji's Birthday (Oct 2) the first rays of sun will fall on the place were the urn was kept. An architectural brilliance to show respect to the great man.

Watch the beautiful light house which is little far away from this place. Wonder how it will be like to have a view from top of that light house.

There is a view point nearby which is right near the beach side amidst the rocks.

I am going to just step into the sea to enjoy the sooting massage of the cold water lashing at the legs and the feeling of sand massaging the feet and enjoying the milky white bubbles formed by the lashing waves hitting the rocks.

Another interesting sight is that the waves were dancing to the tune of winds blowing across too. Watch the top layer of these waves being guided by the winds in its direction.

This shelter built out rocks is a common sight in the beaches of this area (reminded me of the Shangumukham beach).

Time is just flying off and it is already 11am now, 2 hrs after we started this stroll. We have to reach back our home by 3 pm today, so we have to start our return journey now itself.

A quick walk is required to get back to hotel, pack up and start our return journey.

Time to settle the bills, and it seems that there is a communication gap with the guy who talked me over phone and the person at the reservation desk. The front office personnel is telling a higher rate that what was offered. Even a call to the guy who made the reservation is telling that he is helpless. This is something really bad and I some how lost my cool and became really upset at people not keeping their word. Had they quoted this rate earlier, then it won't have been a problem. There was no point in arguing as the guy was not relenting. My mood and time is being lost. Finally paid what he asked for and left the place but with an unpleasant mind. A very bad incident to end the stay in otherwise a good tour experience. From now onwards I will be careful while making online reservations or dealing with Hotel Samudra.

Now we are back on NH 47, the road sides of which are filled with coconut trees giving full shade to those on road even on a hot sunny day.

We decided to visit Suchindram temple too before heading home. Around 15kms from Kanyakumari the huge "Gopuram" of Suchindram temple is in sight and I have to turn left to reach this magnificient temple.

The temple pond is very beautiful too, with that construction in the middle.

The really huge Gopuram of this temple is really a great craftwork and it must have taken years of hardcore workmanship to create this one which stands tall at about 130 feet and each of the sculpture in the front face of this gopuram is part of Hindu mythology.

The temple is dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, symbolizing Creation, destruction and balance of nature. This temple also houses the famous musical pillars, another master craftsmanship, which gives out various musical notes when tapped.

Within half an hour we are again in the vehicle heading home after experiencing marvellous destinations in and around Kanyakumari the southern most tip of India, where the seas meet.

The images of Padmanabhapuram palace - where the architecture speaks volumes,
the Aqueduct at Thottipalam - Asias numero uno aqueduct and
the virgin Kanyakumari - where oceans meet
will surely be etched in our memories for many long years.

Hope you too had a wonderful trail along with me, this is bye bye from Subu until we can travel together to the next location.

Quick Facts:

Name of Place:

The southern most tip of India. The end point of NH 47, well connected by rail and road

Nearest airport:
Thiruvananthapuram International airport (90 kms from Kanyakumari)

Best time to visit:
November to March (summer season)

Major Attractions:
Sunset and sunrise from horizon
Kanyakumari temple
Vattakottai (Click link to view travel log andimages)
Udayagiri Fort (Click to view travel log and images)
Padmanabhapuram Palace (Click to view travel log and images)
Thottipalam (Click to view travel log and images)

Travel Plan
A Quick visit: Reach Kanyakumari at evening, enjoy sunset & sunrise, return
A detailed visit: Atleast 2 to 3 days needed to experience the place fully.

Previous parts of this trip log

Part 1 - Padmanabhapuram Palace
Part 2 - Thottipalam


Saumya said...

what should i say....'awesum' seems short....wonderful place ...beautiful clicks....keep travelling :)

Anitha and Rajesh said...

Wonderful narration and excellent photos as always.
We had been to cape a year ago. unfortunately lost all the photos when our computer crashed.
We find your blog as a reference to our future trip plans.

sleeping beauty said...

wow i loved this post .i went there when i was kiddo .loved the pictures .

Shrinidhi Hande said...

been there only as a kid... need to visit again

Anonymous said...

Hi subu

good pictures and narration

night view of kanyakumari is excellent

thanks for sharing....

StarTraci said...

As always, stunning pictures. What a glorious place that seems to be -- the waves crashing in their deep blue. I also love the night shots with the colored lights. I wish I had your talent at capturing such beauty!

Traci said...

Oh Saumya
Thanks thanks !! said...

hello Anitha and Rajesh
Great to know that you find my blog useful !! This statement is a kind of a reward for the time which I spent on this blog said...

hi Sleeping Beauty
Nice to know that you got time to visit this blog in between your sleep ;) said...

helloo Shrinidhi
Yes you can make umpteen visits to this place and still will not be bored!! said...

hi Krishna

Hello StarTraci
A good camera and an unshaken hand is all that is required for a night shot of illuminated buildings

Insignia said...

Wow this is such a comprehensive virtual tour to Kanyakumari.

I went there as a kid and dont remember much. But your post made me recall few things.

Roshmi Sinha said...

I'm speechless.

Kanyakumari is high on my "to visit" list. I have been to Murudeshwar... but this looks even better...

Anonymous said...

pl. change the dark green background to light color to for clear readability said...

Hello insignia
Thanks for your visit and comment. Yes my objective is to be as comprehensive as possible :) said...

Hello Roshmi
Kanyakumari is an addictive place. Something there makes us visit again and again.

magiceye said...

brought back fond memories. had been there on bike (yezdi) all the way from bombay 30+ years back!!!!
loved it!!

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

OMG, the pics are breathtakingly beautiful!!!

Loved the parrot there! I felt I've just visited the place there. wow!

Arpana said...

Excellent may be the most heard words for your post and blog--still once again.

Pratibha The Talent said...

wow excellent photography and my favorite is sun in between hands.


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