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About Kanyakumari District

Kanyakumari lies on the southern most tip of the country in Tamil Nadu. So, it is undeniably famous for spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Kanyakumari is also a city of pilgrims. So, you will find a number of revered temples in the city that are visited by tourists in large numbers every day. There are so many tourist places in Kanyakumari to visit.

If all you have is one day in Kanyakumari, here is how you should begin your day to have the best time. Watch the sunrise. – Visit Devi Temple or Suchindram Temple. – Take a trip to Vivekanand memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue. – Explore the historic alleys and rooms of Padmanabhapuram Palace. – End the day with a beautiful sunset. 

Kanyakumari District has a rich culture, pleasing weather, religious centres and scenic attractions. The district has a fragrance of architecture, culture and customs of neighbouring Kerala mixed with deep tradition, culture and architecture of Tamil Nadu. This district is also rich in ancient monuments.  

Kanyakumari Beach

Located in the southernmost part of India, Kanyakumari beach with its beautiful hue-changing beaches, the confluence of three water bodies as well as the places of religious, historic and spiritual interests is one of the most exotic destinations in India and will never cease to amuse you with its sheer magnificence. The beach attracts people from all parts of the country as well as abroad who come here to bathe in the utter beauty of the confluence of the three water bodies that make the Indian Subcontinent a peninsula. There will never be any dearth of activities that you can indulge in at the Kanyakumari beach.

The first and foremost reason tourists visit the beach is to witness the spectacular sunrise and sunset, which casts an enchanting spell upon the sea and the beach. The three distinct shades of the Bay of Bengal, The Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea can be distinguished easily. There is also ample opportunity for shopping various handicrafts made of rustic seaside materials and other things as well. There is a lighthouse at the beach which will provide you with the most fantastic view of the vast expanses of salty water stretching till the horizon. You can also enjoy some of the festivals and fairs that are celebrated on a significant scale here – Vaisakha, Kalabham and Navaratri are some.

Padmanabhapuram Palace

The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most historical places in Travancore. It was the seat of power of Venad Kings who ruled Travancore. This town is surrounded by a fort with an area of 187 acres. The ancient capital of Travancore was established before 1601 by the Venad Kings. The fort which was made of mud was dismantled and reconstructed with granites. Before 1744 the fort was known as ‘Kalkulam Kottaram’.   After the dedication of the palace in 1744 to Sree Padmanabha, by the king Marthanda Varma, the fort was named as Padmanabhapuram Palace.  The palace has beautiful sculptures, rare coins, mural paintings and weapons of war. It is under the Archaeological Department of Kerala State. The art and architecture of the palace are of Kerala origin and atmosphere. Padmanabhapuram was the capital of Venad rulers, till the closing years of the reign of Karthikai Thirunal Ramavarma2. The entrance hall has a clock-tower created in 1832. It is one of the oldest in India. The first floor has a Council Chamber or Mantrasala, dancing hall and  uttupura (dining hall). About 2000 people were fed every day in the days of kings. In the first floor there is a cot made of 64 medicinal plants on which Maharaja used to sleep3. The cot was presented to Maharaja Marthanda Varma by the Dutch East India Company in 1750 as a gesture of good will. The top most floor has mural of high artistic excellence.  Navarathiri Mandapam is a spacious hall. Hall of historical painting is called Chitralaya. Several paintings are seen here. In Namaskara Mandapam many figures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are found.The palace is considered as one of the store houses of the richest specimens of Indian art and architecture, in stone and wood extolling our glorious past exhibited to the public. It is closed for visitors on Mondays.

Eraniel Palace

Eraniel town is about 15km from Nagercoil on the Nagercoil-Monday Market road and 5 km to the South of Thuckalay. In the past, it was the seat of the royal family of Travancore before Padmanabhapuram became their chief town in South Travancore4. The portion of the palace known by the name Vasanthamandapa had a stone couch resting place of great interest. One of the ruling Princess, it is said while sleeping on this couch suddenly disappeared and never returned thereafter. To commemorate this, a lamp is still kept burning by the side of the couch. Today it is a ruined site to see its walls collapsed, doors and beams decayed, roofs destroyed in a dilapidated condition due to the sheer negligence of the authorities, including the Government, Archaeological Officials, Devaswam Board and also its real owners.

Udayagiri Fort


It is located near the Padmanabhapuram Fort on the Thiruvananthapuram – Nagercoil high-way. It was the most important military garrison in the time of Marthandavarma Raja. Preliminary notification has been issued to declare it a national monument6. It is built of massive granite blocks around an isolated hillock, 260 feet high enclosing an area of almost 90 acres. It was renovated about the year A.D 1600. This fort was said to have been destroyed by Raja Raja Chola7 and was rebuilt by De-Lennoy during the rule of Marthandavarma in 1741-1744. Foundry for the manufacture of guns, mortars and cannon balls were also established within the fort under the supervision of the General8.

In the early days, the fort was of strategic importance. Prisoners captured in the campaign against Tippu were confined in this fort for sometime. In 1810, the East India Company’s army under Colonel St. Leger marched into the Travancore State through the Aramboly Pass to quell a rebellion under the leadership of Velu Thambi Dalavai. The fort was captured by Col Welsh, who in his “Military Reminiscences” has recorded that there was 100 guns in the fort, besides 50,000 stand of arms. It is further said that a brass gun 16 ft long bored as a 22 pounder, found in the fort could not be removed even for a few yards by a large number of people, even with the help   16 elephants. The Company’s troops were stationed there, till about the middle of the 19th Century. Today there is no trace of any old buildings. The cemetery of De-Lennoy is found here. The fort requires immediate attention as its massive wooden gate was burned to assure safe passage for the cows to graze inside the fort. The walls of the fort is a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India

Tomb of De Lennoy

General De-Lennoy (1715-1777) was a French General who served as Missionary in the Dutch East India Company and later joined Marthandavarma, serving him loyally for 37 years and became the commander in chief of Travancore army. He modernized his army and extended his kingdom from Kanyakumari to north of Cochin including some parts of Kalakadu. Mortal remains of De-Lennoy, Margaret De-Lennoy and his son were buried inside a chapel without a roof in Udayagiri Fort. De-Lennoy’s tombs are protected monuments and have an inscription both in Tamil and Latin.

Vattakottai

Vattakottai, a granite fort six kilometers north east of Kanyakumari, forms the terminal of a line of ramparts known as the South Travancore lines built by Marthandavarma to serve as defence for Nanjil Nadu11. It is rectangular in shape and covers an area of about three and a half acres. The fort is enclosed by walls 25 to 26 feet high, eluding the parapet 29 feet thick at the front, 18 feet at the corners and 6 feet at the rear. The portion running into a sea is the most strongly built under the orders of De-Lannoy during the reign of Marthandavarma

Literary or epigraphical evidences are not in store to know much about Vattakotai. However, from the evidences left by the fort itself it may be presumed that this fort was the military base to protect the Kumari Port which was a rich pearl harbour. Since the emblem of the Pandya Kings was ‘Fish’ and as we find this emblem in some of the places of the fort, it can be safely concluded that the Pandya Kings have control over this fort for some time.

Clock Tower, Nagercoil

It was built in 1893 by the Maharaja Sree Moolam Thirunal. The image of the clock-tower is found in the emblem of Nagercoil Muncipality. When Maharaja Sree Moolam Thirunal visited Nagercoil, the citizens of Nagercoil wanted a tower in the central place to commemorate his visit. Hence, at the request of the Maharaja, Rev. Duthie presented the clock to be installed in the tower with a condition that the clock should face the Home Church. It is surprising that the clock of 109 years works in good condition

Victory Pillar, Colachel

This sea-coast town is situated about 22 km west of Nagercoil and 7 km south west of Eraniel. It was a port of call for European merchants frequented here during this period. The Dutch and the English had their trading settlements here. The momentus, combined and naval battle of Colachel between Marthandavarma, the king of Travancore and the Dutch took place in August 1741 in which Marthandavarma inflicted a crushing defect on the Dutch and once for all put an end to the ambition of the Dutch, to set up their colony in that country16. In the battle, many soldiers were held captives, among them was the eminent soldier De-Lennoy. He entered service of Marthandavarma whom he helped in reorganizing his army and in constructing forts at the capital and on the borders. It was this army that won many battles for Marthandavarma. This victory is commemorated by a pillar created at the site in front of the Port Office.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial

Once a Jain Pilgrimage Centre, South-East of Kumari temple is Vivekananda Rock Memorial where Swamy Vivekananda attained his cherished   highest experience of spiritual realization. During December 1882 Swami Vivekananda came to Kanyakumari and swam to the rock to meditate. The rock is regarded as sacred place. The rock memorial consists of two main structures ‘Vivekananda Mandapam’ and ‘Sripada Mandapam’. Thousands of people visit the Rock Memorial every day.  

Gandhi Mandapam

Mahatma Gandhi visited Kanyakumari in 1925 and 1937. In 1948 his ashes were brought to Kanyakumari to be immersed in the sea. To commemorate this event a beautiful monument with gopurams was constructed. The monument is built in a way that the golden rays of the sun at mid-day on 2nd October would fall on the ‘Peedam’ through a hole in the roof. Thousands of tourists visit the monument daily.

Thiruvalluvar Statue 

 Dedicated to the accomplished philosopher and poet Thiruvalluvar, this beautiful statue finds itself on a small island near Kanyakumari. Thiruvalluvar was the author of a legendary work in the world of Literature, Tirukkural, the classic Tamil text. In his devotion, the work for the statue started in 1990 and continued till 1999, during the year in which the figure finally got completed. This monument stands tall at a mighty height of 133 feet and is perched upon a 38-foot pedestal. The pedestals height represents the 38 chapters of virtue in Thirukkural. Full of symbolism and cultural significance, this destination is awe-inspiring, and a must visit. V. Ganapati Sthapati sculpted the statue, and it was unveiled on January 1, 2000. 

Wax Museum at Kanyakumari

 The Wax Museum is definitely is one of its kind Museum that stands above the rest in terms of creativity. It is situated in Kanyakumari region in the city of Baywatch.The museum houses all the important figures of the Indian History as well as the world history in wax form. The wax figures are realistic and the Wax Museum is reminiscent of its famous counterpart in London. There are also many current international figures like the wax counterpart of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thanumalayan Temple - Sthanumalayan Kovil

Situated in Suchindram, Thanumalay temple is also known as Sthanumalayan Kovil is the sacred shrine dedicated to Trimuthis (Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva). The beautiful temple was renovated in the 17th century, and its inscriptions date back to the 9th century. This beautiful temple represents great architectural magnificence. One of the major highlights of this temple is the four musical pillars carved out of a single stone placed in the alankara mandapam area. These musical pillars emit a variety of musical notes when struck with a thumb. Another striking aspect of the Sthanumalayan Perumal Temple is that it depicts both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sections of Hinduism. The temple also houses massive statues of Anjaneya and Nandi which are one of its kind. Every year rathotsava and teppam festival celebrated in this temple attracts thousands of people.

Thirparappu Falls

Located at a distance of about 55 kilometers from Kanyakumari, the cascading waters of the Thirparappu Falls make up for an enchanting sight. This waterfall is a manmade one and falls from a height of 50 feet. The water collects in a quaint pool below which is an ideal place to frolick around, especially for children. The falls are surrounded by thick green foliage and indigenous fauna, which make it a nature lovers paradise.

These falls are a unique combination of streams that flow together to form a magnificent waterfall. The containment below is no less than a top tier waterpark and is perfectly safe too. The entrance of this destination has a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is highly revered by the locals.

Enjoy a boat ride in the tranquil waters of Thirparappu and let the surrounding natural beauty consume you. This destination is the perfect spot to enjoy a fun filled day with family, and children will have a gala time here, guaranteed.

Chitharal Jain Monuments

These monuments and temples are an effigy to the diversity of the culture and the religions existing in harmony in India. Sitharal Jain Monuments are one of these culturally rich monuments.

Almost every day, you can see people who are traveling to Sitharal Jain Monuments to honor their gods and values. This monument draws the attention of a large number of visitors with its spectacular mesmerizing divine and spiritual values.

Mathur Aqueduct

Also known as the Mathoor Hanging Trough, the Mathoor Aqueduct is located in the Vilavancode Taluk of the Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu. This one-kilometre long trough is amongst the longest and tallest trough bridges that can be found all across the continent, and this grand aqueduct was constructed in 1966 over the Parazhiyar River to facilitate the agricultural development of the area. This trough bridge gets its name from Mathoor, which is a small village located near the aqueduct. 28 colossal pillars support the weight of the mighty structure, which carries water for irrigation from the Pattanamkal Canal from one side of the hill to another.

The Mathoor Aqueduct has been constructed in such a fashion that it is divided into two parts, one of which is the trough canal and the other is a road. The trough is 7.5 feet wide and 7 feet high and is partly covered with concrete slabs on its top. As the aqueduct began to gain popularity and a lot of people started to visit it, a flight of stairs was also built here to enable the tourists to reach the bridge quickly. A childrens park and several bathing platforms have also been developed in the area, which means that people from all age groups can have a lovely time at the Mathoor Aqueduct and enjoy themselves.

Sunset Point

Whoever says that sunsets are hyped has never visited the Sunset Point in Kanyakumari, which provides breathtaking and magnificent views of the setting sun amidst the clear bright sky in the background, and the pure blue waters underneath it. Formerly known as Cape Comorin, Kanyakumari is located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula and is famous all across the country for having some of the best views and sceneries. A must visit place for every visitor to Kanyakumari, the Sunset Point is the confluence of three ocean bodies: the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea, which is also known as the Triveni Sangam. This confluence makes the scenes even more special and breathtakingly unique. What is more thrilling is the opportunity to see the setting sun and the moon rise simultaneously on full moon nights.

It is then no reason to wonder why the Sunset Point attracts visitors from all over the world. The lighthouse further adds to the beauty of the views that can be enjoyed from here, and the place offers the opportunity to click some fantastic photos because of the beautiful interplay of the light and the ocean water. Additionally, if you are lucky enough, you will be able to witness the tides moving in a parallel direction to the shoreline and the ocean waters mixing and mingling beautifully in different shades of light and dark blue, which can easily be differentiated by the naked eye. Just off the mainland, you can also see the colossal statue of the Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, and the Vivekananda Memorial adjacent to it.

Sothavilai Beach

The Sotha Vilai Beach is one of the most famous beaches that can be found in the entire district of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. This beach is an offbeat attraction, which means that many people do not know about it, but the beach does deserve more attention than what it gets. The glorious beach stretches for over 4 kilometres, which makes it one of the longest natural beaches in the entire state, and the views that this attraction offers cannot be put into words. The glistening white sand with high dunes and the clear, pure water extending indefinitely to meet the horizon miles and miles away is indeed a sight to behold.

Since Sothavilai Beach has quite shallow waters, it is an ideal place for swimming and enjoying a water bath. You can also find a few resting cottages at the beach, and a view tower at the beach which is visited by a large number of tourists each day to enjoy the magnificent panoramic views. Unfortunately, the beach was damaged severely by the massive tsunami that hit the nation back in 2004. The concerned authorities, however, with their constant efforts, refurbished and reconstructed the beach; and this famous tourist destination has been attracting tourists ever since.

Adikesava Perumal Temple

The Adikesavaperumal Temple is situated in Thiruvattar, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. One of the 108 divya desams devoted to Vishnu, this temple is also referred to as the Srirangam of Chera Kingdom. Surrounded by rivers Kothai, Pahrali and Thamirabarani on three sides, Vishnu rests in this temple in a reclining position on this sacred land.

It is believed that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava movement, rediscovered the historic Brahma Samhita here. This temple is also known for being one of the 13 ancient divya desams of Malai Nadu. Vaikunta Ekadasi is the main festival celebrated here.


References

  1. N.G. Unnithan, A Short Guide to Padmanabhapuram Palace, 1978.
  2. S. Padmanabhan, In and Around Kanyakumari, 1981, p. 1.
  3. Vision 2020, Kanyakumari, Kanyakumari Resource and Research Centre, Feb. 2007, p. 202.
  4. Report of Dr. S. Padmanabhan, in Indian Express, dated 20 August 1988.
  5. M. Immanuel, Kanyakumari – Aspects and Architects, 2007, pp. 80- 81.
  6. Report from the Director of Archaeology dated 7 December 1988.
  7. M. Gopala Krishnan (Ed), Gazetteers of India, Tamil Nadu State, Kanniyakumari District, 1995 p. 1222.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Report from the Collector of Kanyakumari District.
  10. S. Padmanabhan, Kumari Mavatta Kovilgal (Tamil), pp.179-183.
  11. Vision 2020, Op.cit., p. 203.
  12. Census of India; 1981, Kanyakumari District, Part XIII and A&B, p. 15.
  13. S. Padmanabhan, Kumari Mavatta Kottaigal (Tamil), p.1-8.
  14. Ibid.
  15. District Census Handbook, Kanyakumari Dist, 1981 part XIII – A&B, p. 15.
  16. Ibid.
  17. V. Nagam Aiya, The Travancore State Manual, Trivandrum,Vol. III, 1906, p. 584.
  18. Report from the General Secretary, Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari District, acted 24 November 1988.
  19. Vision 2020, Kanyakumari, Op.cit., p. 205.