Bhagavathi ammal Temple
According to a legend, Banasura, the king of Demons, sought a boon from Lord Shiva that he could be vanquished only by a virgin. The Devas invoked Goddess Parashakti too redeem them, Unable to bear the harassment of the Asura king. Shakti came to kanyakumari as a virgin girl and did penance on the shores.
Lord Shiva of Suchindrum wished to marry the Goddess, and the wedding was fixed for an auspicious hour before dawn. Narada, realising that the marriage will spoil the end of Banasura, falsely heralded the break of dawn by assuming the form of a cock, even as the wedding party was on its way to kanyakumari. The Divine wedding did not take place, since the auspicious moment had bypassed. Lord Shiva returned to Suchindrum disappointed. The Devi also resumed her penance on the rock, now known as Sripadaparai, a few hundred metres offshore.
Meanwhile, Banasura heard about the beauty of the girl and came to request Her hand in marriage. When Devi rejected the idea, the demon king decided to win her by force. This led to a fierce battle, in which the Goddess killed the demon. The relieved Devas returned blessed the Devi and turned her into goddess Bhagavathi Ammal. The temple seems to have been erected during the Pandyan times.
The Sripadaparai is now known as Swami Vivekananda Rock, where the holy feet of the Goddess is enshrined.The tradition here is to take a holy dip at the bathing ghat at the confluence of the three seas. There are about 25 Theerthams on the shores.
GANDHI MEMORIAL :
In honour of our dear father of the nation a memorial was set up at Kanyakumari in 1956. Mahatma Gandhi’s ash was immersed in the sea @ Kanyakumari in 1948. An urn containing the ashes of the Mahatma is kept in this memorial for the public to pay homage. The monument is exactly designed to receive the sunshine through the roof on 2nd OCT miday on the memorial urn.
Enterance to this monument is free and it is open from 7 am to 7 pm daily.
THIRUVALLUVAR STATUE :
The philosopher wrote Thirukkural which is published in three portions, the first book is known as aram ( the way or dharma ) the second one on porul ( which meant materialistic world or artha ) and last is inbam ( love or kama ). Thiruvalluvar has been recognized as the greatest poet and philosopher of TN.
The Mahatma commented on Thirukkural “ I wanted to learn Tamil, only to enable me to study Valluvars Thirukkural through his mother tongue itself…….only a few of us know the name of Thiruvalluvar. There is no one who has given such treasure of wisdom like him. It is a text-book of indispensable authority on moral life. The maxims of Valluvar has touched my soul."
A memorial statue has been constructed adjescent to the Vivekanada memorial. Thirvalluvar stands 95 feet tall and the pedestal is around 38 feet an overall height of 133 feet above the sea level, stands taller than the Vivekananda Memorial for obvious reason being son of the soil. The entire Thirukkural has been etched on the walls of the memorial leading to the Thiruvalluvars statue on the roof. There are 140 easy paced steps to climb to reach the footsteps of the great poet.
The chief sculptor of this edifice is Dr Ganapathi V Sthapathi, the vital statistics of this memorial can be brief summarized as follows :
Height of the statue : 95 feet
Weight of the statue : 2000 tonnes
Total gross weight : 7000 tonnes
Total steps one way : 70 steps
Chief Sculptor : Dr Ganapathi V Sthapathi.
Year of Inaugration : First January 2000
Kamaraj memorial & exhibition :
This memorial is dedicated to the great freedom fighter from TN. He was former chief minister of TN and President of the un-divided congress. He was popular as the Black Gandhi among the mass, and considered to be a king maker in the congress hierarchy. There are numerous black and white pictures of Kamaraj in this memorial. One of them is with his protégé MGR and another shows him wielding a cricket bat. He is shown along with Gandhi family moving to various constituency. His ashes are kept in the urn after immersion, which the public pay their homage even today from TN.
OPEN : 7 am to 7 pm Enterance Free
Wandering Monk Memorial
This memorial is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda. The life history of Swamis various achievement and his life style has been exposed in this exhibition. It is situated close the main town circle, wherein the free bus shuttles from the ashram to city at half an hour interval. Enterance fee is nominal, no photography is allowed inside.
Baywatch and Wax Museum :
It is a wholesome powerpacked entertainment park for an entire family. There are many fun loaded rides such as Sky cab, Bumping car, Columbus,Milky way, Giant wheel, Crazy chairs and kids pool are worth mentioning. India’s first wax museum on the lines of Madam Tussauds London has been established here.
Government Museum :
The government Museum is situated on the Beach road. There is a number of collection of artifacts from South Indian temples. This is one of the must see place in Kanyakumari. There is a lighthouse situated on the opposite side.
Holiday : Friday and Second Saturday : Fee : adult Rs 5 children Rs 3 and foreigner Rs 100.
Gunghanathaswamy Temple :
This temple is built by the king Raja Raja chola almost 900 years ago. The inscriptions point out to different periods in 1038, 1045 and 1048 AD. This temple is located close to the railway station.
This magnificient circular Fort is situated 7 km away from Kanyakumari. The Fort was built by Marthanda varma and strengthened by Dutch General De Lannoy during the reign of Marthandavarma ( 1729-58). The Fort has been landscaped beautifully by the ASI. A tunnel connecting to the palace of Padmanabhapuram was supposed to have been built for the royal to move around with maximum safety. However this has been closed due to vandalism. There is an emblem of the fish which obviously points to Pandyan Kings suzerenity over this Fort. One can have a beautiful view of the beach and a lighthouse in a distance. Cannons were place on the slots of the wall surrounding the Fort, which have been removed. Overall the Fort is so well maintained that it serves as a picnic spot for visitors. One more Fort nearby seems to have been destroyed by the British colonel Lee in 1806
Udaygiri Fort :
The Fort has been re-built during the reign of Marthandavarman of the Venad dynasty during 1741-44. Once again the Dutch general De Lannoy was commissioned to build the Fort. There is a memorial of De Lannoy situated in this Fort. Being a bio-diversity area, there are some deers, birds and animals in the zoological park developed. It has a neat Tank right in the centre. If one walks across one comes to a rocky hill, which can be used for trekking there is supposed to be a temple on the top. But we aborted the attempt for paucity of time
PADMANABHAPURAM PALACE :
An elegant palace built with brick and mortar, along with liberal use of teak wood and brick tiles for roofing has been constructed by Marthanda Varma in 1744 AD after demolishing the mud Kaikulam Palace. The Kaikulam Fort and Palace was renamed Padmanabapuram palace as a dedication to Lord Padmanabha.
The Travancore Royal family followed matrilineal system of succession. The kings were succeeded by their sisters son. The old Princely state of Travancore was developed from the ancient kingdom of Venad which occupied western portion of Indian Peninsula. This kingdom formed as descendants of the ancient Chera Kings, whose celeberated capital is now known as Kodungalloor.
The entrance to the main edifice is controlled by another ornamental gateway with retainers for watch and ward. The gabled entrance has wooden ceiling profusely ornamented with lotus medallions. The most striking feature of the entrance is the clock-tower which is one of the oldest in India erected in 1832 A.D. and still continues to be in working order. The clocks chiming is heard around the surroundings as far 3 km in the night time.
The first floor the Poomuham has a council chamber or Mantrasala which is meant for holding discussions with ministers and prominent citizens. The floor off this hall, which is polished with the admixture of coconut shell ashes, eggs fermented in molasses and lime reflects the figure like a mirror. Next to the Mantrasala is the Dancing Hall which was used exclusively for the members of the royal family.
Adjacent to the Council Chamber and to the south of dancing hall is the dinning hall called “Uttupura”, with two floors (the ground and the first) each measuring roughly 78 by 6 metres and it would accommodate about 2000 people at a time. Feeding of about 2000 poor persons, it is said, was done here every day and so the king was called ”Dharmaraja”.
The most attractive building in the whole palace is the ‘Uppirika Malika’ which consists of three storied. ‘Uppirika’ is the abbreviated term of ‘Muppirika’ which means the residence of the eldest member of the family. A wooden cot is erected on the top most floor in the belief that “Lord Vishnu” the chief deity. The first floor contains a wooden cot made of 64 medicinal plants, on which Maharaja used to sleep. The medicinal cot was presented to Maharaja “Marthanda Varma” by the Dutch East India Company in 1750, as a mark of friendship. Entry to the second and third floor is not allowed due to structural weakness. Certain artifacts are alleged to have been stored here. All the staircases are wooden.
To the west of the Zuppirika Mandapa is the Navarathri Mandapa which is a spacious hall of exquisitely beautiful granite pillars with drooping pendants reminiscent of the Nayakar style of architecture. In the Navarathri Mandapa, performances of Bharatha Natya and musical recitals took place in the royal presence.
Famous Kings of Travancore ( Venad )
1. Ayyanatikal Thiruvatikal 840 – 860 AD
2. Ravi Varma Kulasekharan 1282 – 1314AD
3. Udaya Marthanda Varma 1578 – 1592AD
4. Marthanda Varma 1729 – 1758AD
5. Raja Ravi Varma ( painter ) 1848 – 1906AD
Currently the Palace is maintained and managed jointly by the Government of Kerala and TN under the administrative control of Govt of Kerala, being located in TN. Padmanabapuram palace is both beautiful and function designed to suit the humid weather conditions prevailing with high roofs. The building is always cool and quiet from inside. Most of the material used were domestic such as Laterite stones, Teak wood, burnt bricks, granite and Lime. The shiny black polish on the floor was created from a combo of charcoal produced from coconut shell, lime, white from egg and various other vegetable extracts. In order to preserve the polish visitors are not allowed to wear shoe or slippers inside the palace.
The rooms on the ground level was mainly used for storage. On the first floor the main dwelling for the kings were prevalent. The bathrooms had sewage connection passing through concealed channels. Lighting of the palace during the night was provided by Lamps.
There are temples in the court yard of the palace, they are Ramaswamy temple, Subramanya and Sarasvathy temple. Ancient painting, Wooden cots and chars, along with visitors durbar, etc are beautifully erected. The ventilation is of high class.
A museum is also constructed by the ASI in keeping with the splendour architecture of the palace housing various artifacts.
ENTERANCE FEE :
Entry Fee Rs 25 for Adult & Rs.10 for Children.
Fees for Foreigners : Adult Rs 200 & Children Rs 50
Video and Camera Fee are Rs 1500 & Rs 25 Respectively
Separate fee for Car parking
Closed : Mondays
Mathoor Hanging Bridge :
This hanging bridge is the largest and tallest trough bridge in Asia. It is spread over 1 km in length with a width of 7 feet. It was constructed in 1966 under the instruction of Kamaraj, for bring succour to the people of the district. The bridge is constructed across the river bed of periyar. The water is transported in the canal over the bridge from one side of the hillock to the other side. A small childrens park and bathing platform is put up below the bridge. It is one of the tourist places.
Tirparappu Water falls :
This water falls is located 13 km away from Pechiparai dam. The water falls from a height of 50 feet, and the force of the fall can be tremendous. There are separate enclosures for men, women and children for bathing. There is a old Shiva temple with strong fortifications, but may be closed between 1 and 5 due to absence of the priest. This temple seems to built during the period of Cheras.
The lord after destroying the demon of dhaksin took the form of Veerabhadra and resided here. Veerabhadra is one of the fierce form of Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the shivalaya temples. There are many old inscriptions in this temple including the one of the pandiya king dated ninth century.
ST XAVIERS CHURCH KANYAKUMARI
The celebrated St.Xavier visited the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu from Goa, he never missed the opportunity of visiting Kottar in Kanniyakumari district which was a celebrated commercial centre at that time. During his stay at Kottar, he used to worship St. Mary in the small temple. He was popularly known as “Valiya Pandaram” among the people of Kottar. While he was at Kottar, he averted the invasion of Padagas on the people of Venad which was appreciated by the king, who became closer to the Priest. In recognition of Xavier’s services, the king allotted a land to him for the purpose of constructing a catholic church at Kottar. There was already a church in 1544 in the same place, where the St. Xavier’s church stands now.
The church records show that the church was built in the year 1600 A.D. In the year 1865, the Church was enlarged and the shrine of our lady was also renovated and vaulted over. In 1930, the church was raised to the status of a Cathedral.
In 1942, in commemoration of the fourth centenary of the arrival of St.Xavier in India, a beautiful tower to the saint, a grotto to Out Blessed Mother and a small shrine to St. Ignatius who sent him to India were constructed in the Cathedral premises. In 1955, the church was further extended and the chapel of Our Lady was incorporated into the enlarged church.
The Church of St. Xavier enjoys a great fame as a place of miracles from early times. The annual festival is celebrated during the month of November – December lasting for 10 days.
PEER MUHAMMAD DURGHA
There is a durgha named ‘Peer Mohamed Oliyullah Durgha’ at Thuckalay named after the great philosopher Mohamed Appa, who was born in Tenkasi of Tirunelveli District. After spending sometime in spiritual pursuits in Peermedu of Kerala State he came and stayed at Thuckalay. Being a Tamil poet of great eminence, he wrote many books on philosophy. He had intimate relationship with the Kings of Chera dynasty. It is said that he laid foundation stone for the Padmanabhapuram Granite Fort.
The Anniversary of the great philosopher poet is celebrated every year on a grand scale on the full moon day in the month of Rajap. Both the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu attend the celebrations on large numbers irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.
CHITRAL JAIN ROCK CUT TEMPLES
Chitharal is a small village situated at a distance of 7 Kms., from Marthandam and 45 Kms, from Kanyakumari. The village is accessible by road from Kuzhithurai on NH47 via Arumanai, a distance of about 12 kms. From Chitaral junction there is a cartable road (2 km) running upto the foot of the hill. A trekking path 2 to 3 m wide, winding up to a distance of half a kilometer lands the visitor at the cave temple entry point.
It is famous for the Rock-cut temple. Hillock at Chitharal has a cave containing Rock-cut sculptures of Thirthankaras and attendent deities carved inside and outside dating back to 9th Century A.D. It was converted into Bhagavathy Temple in the 13th Century A.D. Cars and Vans can go upto the foot of the hill. One has to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the temple. The Jain images have been preserved Central Archeological Survey of India
The famous beach at Muttom is located about 16 kms from Nagercoil and 32 kms from Kanyakumari. Muttom is famous for its beautiful landscaping and high rocks dipping into the sea at the beach-side. The sun set view point at Muttom is one of the most Panoramic view points in the district. Another attraction of Muttom is the century old light-house built by the British. However so far this beautiful beach has always been unsafe for the tourists since the rocks on which tourists go to see the sea view are slippery and a number of fatal accidents have occurred over the past few years. The district administration, decided to put protective stainless steel fencing across the entire dangerous areas and also to put up small open huts at the rock tops for the tourists to sit and watch the massive sea waves leisurely with protection from sun and rain. The fencing work and the small huts have already been completed to the delight of the tourists who mob the beach in hundreds during week ends. Sitting benches have also been constructed in a circle for the elders to chit-chat, relax and enjoy the sun set. Seeing the response of the tourists, the district administration has sanctioned for the construction of a toilet complex, a small shopping complex and a children's park at a cost of Rs.11.60 lakhs and there are plans to undertake sculpture - works across the rocks to add to the ambience of the area.
ACK : Kanyakumari website, Google search, Research articles