A Poet, A Monk and the Rock-Star!!!

My next coastal stop in India is Kanya Kumari, located at the southernmost point of the Indian subcontinent. For centuries this place was the centre of art and religion especially during the reign of the great kings of Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Nayaks. Today it remains an important pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu state. The main industry here is tourism. Kanya Kumari is one of the few places in India where you can get a three-in-one smashing deal, it comes free but will last a lifetime of memories – to witness a glorious sunrise and sunset, and on full moon days witness the unique sights of simultaneous sunset and moon rises.

Kanya Kumari was formerly known as Cape Comorin during the British regime. Getting here is pretty easy.  The nearest major airport is in Trivandrum (in the state of Kerala) just about 100 KM away. A car ride on a fine day would be under 3 hours.  There are train and bus transfer options from major cities in India, the duration depends on where you board it from.

Around Kanya Kumari

Kanya Kumari is at the meeting point of three great seas – the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. I found the centre of town to be very scenic and entertaining. Here, is where you’d want to be, amongst the famous Kanya Kumari Amman temple (for which this place is named after),  the view of the grand Thiruvalluvar Statue & Vivekananda Memorial Rock,  Gandhi memorial, the busy market site, and lots and lots of colourful crowds.
 
Coffee at the Arabian and hot hot spice, ouch!
In haste, we booked ourselves a resort which was not exactly at the centre and it was pricey. It was quite a walk from the hotel to the main centre, and yes, we were kicking ourselves after that. There are plenty of hotels, affordable and cheap, often with open rooftop balconies – for checked-in guests to have a nice cup of coffee or tea while enjoying a spectacular Indian sunrise or sunset. Nevertheless, we made it to the centre despite the heat and distance. Luckily, we got to visit the temple in time. After the essentials were fulfilled, sitting at the low walls and listening to the sound of the powerful crushing waves instantly revived our depleted energy levels. Also these are for sure more smashing great deals! To top the deal of deals, the coffee 😊.


A sea-breezed coffee with the great Poet himself
Meet Rajini, a mobile coffee seller on wheels, responsible for this coffee. That’s not his real name, but I call him that because he is a superstar and the coffee-making rock star of the day. I need not say more, the pictures below tell you why. He wore the biggest, brightest and sincere smile while making us the coffee. He was proud of that cup he served. I felt the power of those waves in his spirits. The coffee, Rajini – a perfect-7. If you are in Kanya Kumari, look out for Rajini, the rock star of coffee making. 😊😊

Find Rajini for Sea Breeze Coffee

I mentioned the Vivekananda Memorial Rock and Thiruvalluvar statue earlier.  The Vivekananda memorial, built in 1970, is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu Monk, a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world during the late 19th century. The memorial stands on two rocks, at sea, just ½ KM from the mainland. It is believed that he received his enlightenment on this rock.

Thiruvalluvar is a well-respected Tamil poet and philosopher who contributed to the famous Thirukurral, a work on ethics. Based on a linguistic analysis of his writings, it is believed that he lived between 4 BC and 1 BC. The Thirukurral in recent years has been translated into many languages. The Thiruvalluvar Statue is a grand 133 feet meters tall and is just as stately as the book.  It is 133 feet to denote the 133 chapters of the Thirukurral. The statue is next to the Vivekananda memorial.

Swimming across to the small island is not encouraged.  So, to get here, there are short, fun ferry rides for a small fee. The queues are long, do be patient. The visitors who I saw during my stay were mostly domestic ones, and these included loads of students on school excursions.

There are lots of food options, from rice to wheat based and mainly vegetarian. I preferred the smaller family owned restaurants.  Except for Rajini’s coffee, I found the meal prices, in general, to be slightly high.  The food was a lot hotter (chilly hot), and I guess the tourists here prefer this level of spice. Stock up on Eno, just in case.

On our way back to Trivandrum we stopped at a stall for some piping hot banana plantain fritters or valhakkai bhaji at Suchindram. Suchindram is another pilgrim town south most of Kanya Kumari district, just 16 KMs away. Only one word, yummy.



Unbeatable!


The Thanumalayan temple in Suchindram was built in the 17th century. It has spectacular architecture and exquisite artwork in stone. Photography is not allowed, but I am afraid I read that a bit late, so I'll only post one photo here.

Thats grand.
Another place that is a must-visit in Kanya Kumari district is the Padamanabhapuram Palace. According to wikipedia, this palace was believed to have been constructed in 1601 and then rebuilt by the founder of modern Trancore, King Anizham around 1750. The palace is regarded as a hallmark of Kerala Architecture. Although it is situated in Tamil Nadu, the palace belongs to the state of Kerala who maintain it.



Being with a King
The name Kanya Kumari brings me a mix of emotions. I could sit here all day with that great poet, watching and listening to the orchestra of three seas belting out their most powerful symphonies and feel the ancient forces watching over us. And that’s precisely what I did, remaining until way after sunset.

Lights came on. Kanya Kumari, we will meet again.

We will meet again.

Enjoy your coffee and have a great September.  

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