Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula, is a gorgeous travel destination when you want to just get away from the chaos of daily life and attain some sanity for mind and soul. It is situated in Tamil Nadu on the border of Kerala. This canopy of splendour and sanctity is the confluence of three water bodies (aka Triveni Sangam), the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. This was also the place where goddess Kanya Kumari, an incarnation of goddess Parvati, attained penance to be able to marry Lord Shiva (hence the name). Known for its serenity, picturesque sunrises and sunsets, great food and budgeted shopping, Kanyakumari is surely one of the worth visiting places of India before you die.
Best time to visit: If you have the option, visit Kanyakumari between October and March as the weather tends to be cool at this time. It is a coastal city, the rest of the year it’s hot and humid.
Ways to reach Kanyakumari
- By air - There is no airport in Kanyakumari. The nearest airport is in Thiruvananthapuram which is around 100 km away. Both domestic and international flight land here, so you can get off of the airport and take a cab or a bus which would get you to Kanyakumari in around 3 hours.
- By train - Kanyakumari railway station is in the heart of the city and there are frequent trains connecting it to all the major cities of India.
- By bus - Kanyakumari bus stand has buses running between cities like Mysore, Chennai, Trivandrum, Madurai, Nagercoil, Banglore, Hyderabad, Trichy etc. There are both ac and non-ac buses and both Volvo and sleeper types.
- By road - Kanyakumari is 700 km from Chennai, 665 km from Banglore and 245km from Madurai. The roads are well constructed and you can have a great road trip experience as well while visiting Kanyakumari.
Places to stay:
- Hotel Sivamurugan- This hotel is one of the oldest ones and has been recently renovated. It has great luxuries like pool table, swimming pool, great food and pretty amazing rooms. Charges are a little on the expensive side and would cost you close to 3000 rupees per night.
- New Cape Hotel- If you are looking for budget friendly options, you can choose this hotel. It is around 800 rupees per night. It offers decent facilities for economical prices.
- Anantya Resorts- Ananya Resorts are your go to option if you want to splurge on extravagant living during your vacay. This resort is a one hour drive from Kanyakumari and is the perfect abode for your wedding celebrations or honeymoon. It offers great spa experience along with a pool and a mini bar. The price is 8000 bucks for a night.
- Hotel Seaface- It is the perfect hotel if you are an architecture and interior geek. The food and service are amazing as well. The price for one night is 1800.
- Hotel Temple Citi- It is one of the top picks for tourists and has great interiors with complimentary breakfast. It is located in the central part of the city so is convenient to go anywhere from there. The charges are around 2300 per night.
Places to visit:
- Thiruvalluvar Statue: Once in Kanyakumari you should most certainly go to see the Thiruvalluvar statue via a ferry ride. The statue was built to mark tribute to the famous Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. The best sunrise and sunset can be seen from here, especially on the full moon night when you can see the sun setting on one side of the sea and the moon rising on the other. There are also stairs that allow you to climb up the sea and go to the top of the statue.
- Padmanabhapuram Palace: The palace of the Travancore kingdom is an architectural beauty. The murals from the yore years, mahogany style bow, granite floors and beautiful carvings are must see wonders of this palace.
- Thanumalayan Temple: The three gods Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are collectively worshipped in this majestic temple which is a few kilometres away from Kanyakumari. The grand, white gopuram, which is seven storeys high, is the highlight of this temple. It is decorated with beautiful carvings, all in form of the august Indian styled architecture.
- Pechiparai Reservoir: Built across Kodayar river, this reservoir is an artificial lake. Boating across the lake will take your breath away with its greenery and sublime flora and fauna.
- Kanyakumari beach: For all the beach enthusiasts, this is the perfect place to chill. Walking on the golden sand while the cold waves crash against your feet is complete bliss. There are many shacks nearby which will serve you tasty snacks like roasted corn, pakodas, bhel etc. The place is also good to get that amazing tan under the glistening sun.
- Mahatma Gandhi Memorial: Some of the ashes of Gandhiji, the father of the nation, were dispersed at the triveni sangam and some are kept at this memorial to offer homage to the great leader. The memorial has been constructed in a way that on 2nd October( Gandhiji’s birthday) the sun rays fall from the hole on the roof into the shrine and thus illuminating the entire memorial.
Festivals: India is the land of festivals and Kanyakumari too celebrates its own unique festivities round the year.
- Cape festival: This three day festival that is celebrated in the month of October brings out the true culture of this city. People follow very many traditions and take a dip in the holy waters every morning. There are traditional songs, dances and all round zeal and laughter. Goddess Kanyakumari is also worshipped during the rituals. Since it’s October and the sun is in the southern hemisphere, the sunset and the moonrise happen simultaneously and are a beauty to watch.
- Suchindram car festival (aka Car Festival) - This festival is celebrated between December and January according to the Hindu calendar. The devotees of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma gather around the Suchindram Temple and take the deities for a city tour in a huge procession. According to the Hindu mythology, this is one of the holiest festivals to be a part of, at least once in your life.
- Kalabham- This is the festival celebrated on the last Friday of the Aadi month (according to the Tamil calendar), i.e, between July and August. On this day, the deities are covered in sandal paste and are worshipped. The next day they are cleansed with coconut milk and water. A plethora of sweets is offered to God.
Must eat foods in Kanyakumari: The foods that you can’t afford to miss while in Kanyakumari are-
- Fish fry- This is a no brainer. Kanyakumari being a coastal city, has access to abundant amounts of different varieties of fish but the cooking style is what makes it mouth-watering. There are limitless options ranging from salt water fish to river water fish, boneless fish, single bone and other fishes. Try as much varieties as you can and you won’t have any regrets.
- Semia payasam (sevai ka kheer)- It is a kheer that is made out of vermicelli and tastes heavenly. It is garnished with dry fruits and is bliss in your mouth.
- Maravazhi Kilangu- This is a special delicacy prepared and eaten only in Tamil Nadu. This is a supreme combination of Tapioca and freshly fried fish.
- Appam- If you are looking for a healthy yet fulfilling breakfast option, then appam is your key. It is made out of rice batter and is eaten with coconut milk. It is extremely nutritious and tasty. Appam is a cooking wonder as one of its sides is steamed while the other is fry cooked.
- Banana chips- This is the snack that you have to have in your bag pack to munch on while travelling around the city.
- Aval- It is the South Indian version of poha and has coconut and jiggery (good) in it.
Shopping: Since any travel is void without a little shopping, here’s a list of places you can find the good stuff.
- Srikanya Handicrafts: This is the top place on your shopping bucket list. It has anything and everything (kind of like the Amazon website for Tamil Nadu). Whether you are buying souvenirs for your trip or goodies for your relatives back at home or are just window shopping, this place is the one-stop destination for all. They have local artisans making handicrafts depicting the indigenous art.
- Nisha stores: This is a cloth market for all the ladies out there. They have long skirts and stoles made in the local handlooms showing their traditional weave, which are a must buy. All the items will be in your budget so there’s no worrying of burning your pocket. They have clothing items for men too but the stock is very limited. You can give it a try and maybe you’ll find what you want.
- Stalls at the beach- You can also shop from the stalls at the beach which will have seashell key chains, small paintings, other variety of key chains, sea shell necklaces and earrings. These are owned and run by the localities here so you can bargain a lot and they will give you items for a very cheap price.
- Avoid going out during afternoons as it tends to get very hot.
- Bargain at local stores and craft exhibitions. You can get nice items for very cheap if you try.
- Don’t miss out on various varieties of fish that this city has to offer. It will be the one thing that you will remember about Kanyakumari for the rest of your life.
- Carry sunscreen at all times and apply it every 4-5 hours. You don’t want to get red burns and rashes while you are travelling.
- Keep drinking coconut water to stay hydrated. The hot climate can make you dizzy.
- Don’t forget to buy a crazy amount of banana chips and carry them back to your place. No matter how hard you try, you won’t get such amazing taste banana chips in cities other than Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Festival Calendar of Kanyakumari
|Feb||Nagaraja Temple Festival|
|July||KalaBham Festival, Vavubali|
|Sept||Navratri Festival, Parivattai ( Kanyakumari Amman Temple)|
|Oct||Skanda Shasti, Cape Festival|