Sunday, October 16, 2011


There is something a little magical about Kanyakumari. It is immensely satisfying to stand at the water and know you’re at the southernmost tip of such a massive country. Legend has it that that the kanya (virgin) goddess Kumari (a form of Devi), conquered demons at this site and won freedom for people all over India. Besides a large temple devoted to her honor, Kanyakumari is also known for its memorial of Swami Vivekanda (in case you are as ignorant as I was before going, I’ll tell you that Swami Vivekanda is apparently quite a famous monk who spread his moral message all over India). There’s a rock offshore that is said to be the spot where he meditated and came up with the message he wanted to share with Indian citizens.

Next to the memorial for Vivekanda is “India’s Statue of Liberty”, which is a 133-foot high statue of the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar who is most famous for his 133-chapter work. The tip of Kanyakumari also features a simple Gandhi memorial. The central pillar contains some of Gandhi’s ashes inside and it’s designed so that on Gandhi’s birthday every year (October 2nd), the sun will land on this stone. Best of all, basically everything you want to see in Kanyakumari is within walking distance; it's a tiny little seaside town. This was such a welcome relief after spending time in more sprawling Indian cities and being dependent on bargaining for rides.

Among all of these small wonders, what I found the most wondrous of all was the idea that from one central point, I was surrounded by three seas. As I stood there on the rocky edge, on my left was the Bay of Bengal, on my right the Arabian Sea, and straight in front of me was the Indian Ocean. I wasn’t the only one who found this convergence of three seas to be a little magical. Indian tourists come from all over the country to bathe in these waters and pay homage to the Devi temple. Because I was there on a weekend, at times the crowds were bit much to handle, particularly because I turned out to be a tourist attraction myself (I think I ended up in more photos than I took this weekend). But there was something kind of wonderful about being among hoards of people all sharing their excitement for something as simple and beautiful as water.

Waiting in line for the boat jetty

Vivekanda Memorial and the statue of Thiruvalluvar

Back of the Devi Temple

(I can't even really articulate why, but I think the photo above is my favorite that I've taken in India).



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