Bittersweet Kanyakumari

At 4.30 am I found myself at the southernmost tip of India facing the vast expanse of water from three different sources, the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.

I had a sleepless night, and after trying in vain for hours to sleep, I decided to walk up to the Ocean. It was still dark but the hotel guard assured me it was safe. As I reached the temple lane, I noticed that the small shops were already getting ready for the day ahead. Huge pots of milk/tea boiled on the stoves, street sellers were already lining their fake jewelry, making me wonder who shopped so early.

To my surprise, the sunrise view point was already teeming with people. I found a quiet spot on a wall and sipped a sugarless chai served in disposable paper cup. A crescent moon and venus glowed as everyone waited patiently for the sun to rise.

In the distance, the Vivekananda memorial was illuminated on a massive rock where Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated. The lights of the memorial masked the famous ‘Thiruvalluvar Statue’ shrouded in dark, and barricaded for some work. Although I was familiar of the former enlightened soul, I first heard of Thiruvalluvar from a very excited girl that sat next to me in a local bus on route to Kanyakumari.  She seemed to be in awe of the poet/philosopher who she said wrote over 3K couplets (the first line with 4 words and second with 3 words).  Although she gave me an exact number of couplets from the poet, my memory falls short.

As the dawn progressed, the entire area was filled with thousands of people, many busy taking selfies, having chai and callously throwing paper cups into the Ocean. If it wasn’t for my obsession of the golden skies, I would have left the place disappointed and outraged. Thankfully, the area had been a no plastic zone.

The sun was meant to rise at 6.10. By 6.20 am it was clear that the orange globe eluded us. Clouds masked the sunrise yet again, a disappointing repeat of sunset from the day before.  Determined, I was once again at the same spot the following day. Rays of orange/pink covered the sky. While the globe once again eluded us, the colorful spectacle was enough for our spirits to rise.

The south of India is famous for its temples. The ancient temples with stone architecture have long held an appeal for me. So, we visited the 3000 year old Bhagavathy Temple, also known as Kanyakumari Temple. The legend goes that the nose ring of goddess Kanyakumari glowed so bright that ships sailing in the sea mistook it’s brilliance for a lighthouse, and crashed against rocks as they tried to reach shore. As we prayed at the inner sanctorum, me and a friend couldn’t take our eyes off the nose ring. It almost looked like a flame from an oil lamp as it flickered. But once again, the maintenance of the temple left much to be desired for.

We visited a few other temples in the area, walked through the Gandhi Memorial, took the efficiently managed cruise to Vivekananda memorial and meditated in its hall. What we most enjoyed though was the street shopping. I only wished I carried a bigger backpack.


  1. Sujitha

    Wow…nice writeup.. This inspires me to visit kanyakumari once again… I had visited when I was too little.. But I know it’s an amazing place.

    1. Prasuna Reddy (Post author)

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Hema

    Irresistible street shopping! 🙂 Nice write up!


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