The southern tip of India
Kayakumari is at the very southern tip of India surrounded by three seas; The Arabian Sea, The Indian Ocean and The Bay of Bengal and is a popular destination for pilgrims who come to the Thiruvalluvar Statue and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
There is also the temple, Bhagavathy Amman Temple, of the godess Devi Kanya Kumari, after which the city is named, on the beachfront which apparently dates back to the 3rd century, but there are huge crowds to visit it.
Talking of crowds, we wanted to take a boat to visit the Thiruvalluvar Statue and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and got up early to take a boat, but even at 6;30am the queues and crowds were huge so we didn’t do that, instead I got a haircut and a shave by an Indian barber.
Pilgrims & Street food
The locals in Kanyakumari seem pretty geared up to serve the throngs of pilgrims that flock to the temple of Devi Kaya Kumari and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, which represents wealth and pleasures. Most of the pilgrims queuing up for the boats to visit appeared to be young women in the majority, many with identical bright-coloured saris that were indicative of their respective temples.
Chai, pakora and vada sellers dart in and out of the people waiting for the boat to the islands.
What to see
One of the best sights to see here apart from the temples and the colourful people in the city are undoubtably the sunrise and sunset over the sea and it would appear that this is no secret, judging by the crowds patiently awaiting the sun dipping down or rising from the sea.
We arrived in Kanyakumari as the sun was setting so made a bee-line to the beach area near the statue of The Virgin Mary after having driven down from Varkala beach, which took about 4 hours with breaks along the way and a visit to the fabulous temple complex at Suchindram.
Roads from the Kerala coast are quite good, but these tend to change as we entered Tamil Nadu, as we saw when we travelled after Kanyakumari to Dhanushkhodi.
There is also an airport at Thiruvananthapuram, which is less than 100 kilometers from Kanyakumari and trains and buses are pretty abundant here and seem to go all over the place.
Food and drink
One of the specialities in Kanyakumari is Kothu Parotta, often called Kottu – a dish of chopped parotta bread in a spicy sauce called salna – it is served everywhere here, in both in the streets and in restaurants.
If you like fish then there is Maravazhi kilangu fish, which is made from fried spiced fish and tapioca, which is similar to potatoes (sort of).
Another popular dish here, especially served in street stalls, is Pazha Bajji – which are sweet ripe banana fritters – great with a masala chai or why not with a Pazha Sarbath, an ice-cold non alcoholic cocktail made from various fruits served with ice. You will no doubt see huge bags of banana chips on sale here almost everywhere too.
Alcohol is pretty difficult to find here, mainly due to the laws in Tamil Nadu, there are a few bars in the basement of some of the nicer hotels, but they are not very welcoming and look pretty seedy – we looked, but didn’t go in.
We ate in a restaurant that was unimagineably named ‘The Curry’ which was good, mainly vegetarian and really packed.
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More photos of Kanyakumari