To one of India’s most beautiful destinations, Kanyakumari, where you can gaze upon the giant statue of a famous Tamil poet or be mesmerised by the confluence of three Indian seas.
Since my childhood, I always heard the line “Kashmir se Kanyakumari Tak” (from Kashmir to Kanyakumari) umpteen number of times. Whether it was by professors during geography classroom lectures or by comical antagonists in Bollywood movies, these words were always wandering in my mind like waves in an ocean. They were gentle when I was engaged in shaping my life and sometimes out of nowhere they would ride high in my mind.
Nevertheless, I traveled to Jammu in the winters of 2011 and would consider it akin to visiting Kashmir. Also, at that moment in time, I did not have the budget to visit Kashmir. Much ahead, in June 2015, I was in Thiruvananthapuram for the TCS ILP training and thus rose an opportunity to check off Kanyakumari from my destination bucket list.
It was just 87 km from my place of residence and so I said to myself “brace yourself, the weekend is coming”; it was an impromptu, economically viable, weekend Kanyakumari trip. Equipped with knowledge of sign language, to tackle the vernacular language barrier, I was convinced that I was prepared.
Saturday morning, I packed my bags and hitch-hiked on a bus for Poovar, which is en-route to Kanyakumari. We had our first stop in Poovar where had the local cuisine for breakfast and then took a short trip to golden sand estuary island beach; it was like a portal opening in another dimension.
Trust me when I say that if I start describing Poovar and Neyyar river backwater trips, it would lead to another small post; so I am sticking to my Kanyakumari trip.
From Poovar we caught a state transport bus to Nagercoil and from there to Kanyakumari. The three-hour ride from Nagercoil to Kanyakumari was mesmerizing in its own sense.
Passing through villages in southern India, crossing through the twist and turns at a speed slower than a tramways with a picturesque landscape of mountains and palm trees in the background was quite a sight for sore eyes.
One thing that I have learnt in the past is that conversing with the locals in public transport vehicles can come in handy. They give you information about local customs and cheap travel hacks. For example, a middle-aged gentleman told us about a hotel hack—he suggested that we avoid hotels and instead stay at a lodge in Vivekanandapuram called Vivekananda.
The room rent at this lodge was quite economical—R100 per night for a single room with three beds–and additionally it was well connected via shuttle rides to Kanyakumari shore. They also had their own private sunrise beach. What else can one ask for!
We decided to stay put in the lodge. Far from any city noise—with rich flora and fauna, and the sight of dancing peacocks and a starry night to gaze at—the lodge was quite serene. After a refreshing nap, we left early morning and got a nice surprise. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen;
I was spellbound. Noisy waves,burning horizon and the morning breeze were all connecting to my soul.
The next stop was the Vivekananda rock memorial. The memorial stands on one of two rocks located about 500 metres east off the mainland. It was built in 1970 in honor of Swami Vivekananda who is said to have attained enlightenment on the rock.
There is also a meditation hall, Dhyana Mandapam, for those who want to meditate. The design of the meditation hall incorporates different styles of temple architecture from all over India and also houses a statue of Vivekananda.
The rocks are surrounded by the Laccadive Sea.
If you look carefully, judging by the different shades of sea water, you can see the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
To reach here you need to catch a ferry ride which is difficult in the morning hours. The waiting period might get on your nerves but the trip is worth it. Pay a small entrance fee, deposit your shoes and you are good to roam inside the rock memorial. A point to remember is that on a sunny day, walk on the white painted walking lane only otherwise you might get a serious foot burn. Photography is banned inside the temple. Inside the temple, the sound of the roaring sea gets muffled out.
While returning, if the weather and sea conditions are good, the ferry will go to the next rock where they have the giant statue of the Tamil poet, Thiruvalluvar, who was compared with Kalidas of Sanskrit literature and Shakespeare of English literature.
In our case, due to low tides, that service was closed. One small suggestion—be careful while boarding and de-boarding the ferry. I dropped my lens cover into the water and lost it because of a push.You can also see Our Lady of Ransom Church from the ferry point. We were quite tired and so we went to a nearby vegetarian restaurant and had a sumptuous lunch.
The beautiful sunset point was waiting for us and so was the end of my journey. By the end of my trip, I managed to tick off three points from my to-do list.
# To watch the sunrise and sunset in southern India.
# To watch the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea at the same time and place
# To cover India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, albeit a little different
PS :- This trip was made in June 2015. This was my entry to backpacker article getting published in my company’s magazine. So I thought of documenting it here also.