Kanyakumari

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Kanyakumari
town
Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari is located in Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari
Coordinates: 8°04′41″N 77°32′28″E / 8.078°N 77.541°E / 8.078; 77.541Coordinates: 8°04′41″N 77°32′28″E / 8.078°N 77.541°E / 8.078; 77.541
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Kanyakumari
Government
 • District Collector Thiru. S. Nagarajan
Area
 • Total 25.89 km2 (10.00 sq mi)
Elevation 300 m (1,000 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 29,761
 • Density 665/km2 (1,720/sq mi)
Languages
 • Official Tamil
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 629 xxx
Telephone code 91-4651 & 91-4652
Vehicle registration TN 74 & TN 75
Website www.kanyakumari.tn.nic.in

Kanyakumari (About this sound pronunciation ), formerly known as Cape Comorin, is a town in Kanyakumari District in the state of Tamil Nadu in India.[1] It lies at the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent (the southern extremity of India as a whole being Indira Point on Great Nicobar Island). Cape Comorin is the southern tip of the Cardamom Hills, an extension of the Western Ghats range along the west coast of India. The nearest major city is Nagercoil, the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District, 22 km (14 mi) away. Kanyakumari was one of the important towns of the ancient Tamilakam (Sangam period)[2][3] and is a popular tourist destination.

Pilgrimage[edit]

Main article: Kanya Kumari Temple

Kanya Kumari is notable for pilgrimage and tourism. The place takes its name from the goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, considered to be a sister of Kṛṣṇa. Women pray to her for marriage. The goddess is believed to be the one who removes the rigidity of our mind. The temple here is a Shakti Peetha, one of the holiest shrines of the Mother goddess. Also nearby are eleven sacred theertham.[4]

The place was called Kanyashram of the Baalaambika, the deity of the temple. The ablution in sea for Pitr Tarpan is done here. This is one of the rare temples in India where Devi (Mother Goddess) is worshipped as a child. The rites and rituals are done in the Kerala Namboothiri method, so there are slight differences in the way of worship compared to the temples of the nearby region. The deity is the goddess of Sanasa,[4] so people from all over India who desire to devote their life as Sanyasin come here and take the deeksha. Swami Vivekananda came to this temple as directed by his Guru Shri Ramakrishna Prarama Hamsa, being a Sanyasin. The temple is very old and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature.

The beach sands are multi-coloured and likened to a mythological story.

There is a shrine for Kalabhairava in the temple. It is said that the backbone area of Sati Devi’s corpse fell here.

The place is famous for Agastyar mala where Sage Agastya lived. He is the founder of Siddha vydya, so there is innumerable medicinal plants available here. He is also considered as the founder of Varma Kalai, a form of martial arts.[5]

Another pilgrimage is Nagaraja Temple, Nagercoil nearby.

At the Thanumalayan Temple in Suchindram, the three main gods of Hindu mythology – Śiva, Brahmā and Viṣṇu – are in one form called Sthanumalayan.[6]

History[edit]

Thiruvalluvar Statue at Night

Ptolemy's geography describes commercial relations between western India and Alexandria, the chief eastern emporium of the Roman Empire. He identified Kanyakumari (Cape of Comorin) along with the Gulf of Mannar as a center for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai, a place to the east of Kanyakumari, as an emporium of pearl trade.

Another ancient Greek book, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, contains sailing directions for merchants from the Red Sea to the Indus and Malabar, and even indicates that the coast from Barygaza (Baroch) had a general southward direction down to and far beyond Cape Komari.

According to Christian legends, Christianity arrived in South India around AD 52 through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ. However, European missionaries, who arrived in the 16th century, propagated Christianity in the area. St. Francis Xavier (7 April 1506 – 2 December 1552) was the pioneer in preaching Christianity in what is now Kanyakumari district.

Islam is believed to have entered the southern part of India through Kanyakumari during the early part of the eighth century AD through traders and missionaries who came through sea-routes. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have also contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of the region.

Kanyakumari District consists of those parts known locally as Nanjil Nadu and Idai Nadu. The names of the villages of the district such as Azhagiapaandipuram, Bhoothapandy, Cholapuram and Kulasekaram reveal that these places were governed by several rulers at difficult periods of time.[clarification needed] Nanjilnadu was under the rule of Pandiyas till the early 10th century and then under Cheras.

The Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks were under the rule of the Chera Dynasty. When the power of Chola declined due to the rise of Hoysalas and western Chalukyas, the Venad (Travancore) Chieftains (descendants of the central Chera family) took advantage of the situation and gradually established their hold on considerable areas in Nanjilnadu. Veera Kerala Varma, one such chieftain, styled himself as "Nanjil Kuravan". The annexation commenced by Veera Kerala Varma was to a large extent continued by his successors and completed by AD 1115.

For about four centuries, the Venad was ruled by powerful kings who were consistently making incursions into the Pandian territories. As a result Vijayanagar kings proceeded against Venad. In 1609 Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai. Consequent on this, there was no serious threat to Nanjilnadu until 1634. During the regime of Ravi Varma and Marthanda Varma, Venad was disturbed by the internal strife.

Sanda Sahib of Arcot took advantage of this situation and attacked Nanjilnadu. Although Marthanda Varma could succeed in the famous battle at Colachel defeating the Dutch armouries who helped the local feudatories, he could not cope with the threat from Sanda sahib and made him to withdraw the battle field. After Marthanda Varma, Venad had weak rulers. Therefore there was frequent interference by the British whose control was completely established over Venad and continued till 1947. From 1947 to 1956, it was under the personal rule of Maharaja of Travancore. During the period between 1956–1961, the administrative system has fallen in line with that of other districts in Tamil Nadu.[7]

Modern history[edit]

Gandhi Memorial Kanyakumari

Kanyakumari has been a great centre for art and religion for centuries. It was also an area of great trade and commerce. It was ruled by the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks. The architectural beauty of the temples in the area are the works of these rulers. Later Kanyakumari became part of the Venad kingdom with its capital at Padmanabhapuram. The king of Venad, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, established Travancore by extending his domain further north up to Azhva, during his reign from 1729 to 1758. By this, the present Kanyakumari District came to be known as Southern Travancore. In 1741, Maharaja Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch East India Company at the famous Battle of Colachel.

Kanyakumari was under the rule of the Pandyan Kings till the downfall of Pandyas, and later by kings of Travancore under the overall suzerainty of the British until 1947, when India became independent. Travancore joined the independent Indian Union in 1947. The reign of the Travancore royals came to an end.

Under Travancore rule, the town, and the modern administrative district that bears its name, Kanyakumari District, progressed both socially and economically. Still a significant part of population study and speak Malayalam as their mother-tongue. The culture followed by Kanyakumari people is mixed and has more influence from Travancore.

In 1949, Kanyakumari became part of the reconstituted Travancore-Cochin State. Around this time, a popular agitation by the Tamil-speaking people of the district for the amalgamation of Kanyakumari District with Tamil Nadu intensified under the leadership of Marshal Nesamony. Kumari Thanthai Marshal Nesamony was instrumental in the merger of Kanyakumari district with Tamil Nadu (then known as Madras State) in 1956 during the linguistic reorganisation of states.

Mythology and legends[edit]

Main article: Devi Kanya Kumari

According to Hindu legend, Kanya Devi, an avatar of Parvati, was to marry Siva, but as he failed to show up on his wedding day, the rice and other grains meant for the wedding feast remained uncooked and remain unused thereafter. As the legend goes, the uncooked grains turned into stones as time went by. Some believe that the small stones on the shore today, which look like rice, are indeed grains from the wedding that was never solemnised. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess who blesses pilgrims and tourists who flock the town.

According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani, from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, literally "hills where medicine lives". This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area. Marunthuvazh Malai is located near Kottaram about 7 km (4 mi) from Kanyakumari town on the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil highway.

The 133 feet (41 m) tall Thiruvalluvar Statue

The sage Agasthya, who was himself an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. Some believe this is why so many medicinal herbs are to be found on these hills near Kanyakumari. A nearby village is named Agastheeswaram after the sage. Today, there is a small ashram on the middle of the Maruthuvazh Malai hill, which tourists visit (after a short trek from the base of the hill), both to visit the Ashram and also to take a glimpse of the sea near Kanyakumari a few kilometres away, and the greenery below.

Sunrise behind the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue, in Vavathurai, Kanyakumari.

Geography[edit]

Kanyakumari is located at 8°05′N 77°34′E / 8.08°N 77.57°E / 8.08; 77.57.[8] It has an average elevation of 0 metre. Contrary to the popular (and sensational) belief that Kanyakumari lies at the meeting point of three bodies of water, it borders only one: the Laccadive Sea to the southwest, south, and to the southeast. It is the confluence of the Western Coastal Plains and Eastern Coastal Plains. On the north and the east, it is bounded by Tirunelveli District, while on the west and northwest it is bounded by Kerala state.

It is located at the southern tip and southernmost point of the Indian Subcontinent. However, the southernmost point of the Republic of India is at Indira Point on Great Nicobar Island, at 6°45’10″N and 93°49’36″E.

Kanyakumari is used geographically to define southern end of the Coromandel Coast region.

Theories have been proposed that a continent named Kumari Kandam once existed to the south of Kanyakumari and the Indian Subcontinent of Asia. It is similar to the proposed continent of Lemuria, variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Climate data for Kanyakumari
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.9
(87.6)
31.6
(88.9)
32.2
(90)
32.7
(90.9)
32.4
(90.3)
30.6
(87.1)
30.3
(86.5)
30.4
(86.7)
30.5
(86.9)
30.4
(86.7)
30.2
(86.4)
30.3
(86.5)
31.04
(87.88)
Average low °C (°F) 23.4
(74.1)
23.8
(74.8)
25.1
(77.2)
26.1
(79)
26.1
(79)
24.6
(76.3)
24
(75)
24
(75)
24.3
(75.7)
24.3
(75.7)
24
(75)
23.8
(74.8)
24.46
(75.97)
Rainfall mm (inches) 13.6
(0.535)
13.2
(0.52)
27.3
(1.075)
62.1
(2.445)
54.2
(2.134)
84.1
(3.311)
47.4
(1.866)
39
(1.54)
45
(1.77)
126.6
(4.984)
166.5
(6.555)
55.3
(2.177)
734.3
(28.912)
Avg. precipitation days 1.4 1.7 2.6 4.1 4.2 11.3 9 6.5 5.5 10.1 11.2 5.3 72.9
Source: World Weather Information Service,[9]

Town[edit]

As of the census of India 2001, Kanniyakumari had a population of 19,739 comprising 9,884 males and 9,855 females, making the sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) of the town to 997. A total of 2,403 people were under six years of age and the child sex ratio (number of females per thousand males under six years of age) stood at 1,024. The town had an average literacy of 88.62%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. A total of 269 comprising 1.55% of the population belonged to Scheduled Castes (SC) and 169 comprising 0.97% of the population belonged to Scheduled tribes (ST). There were are total of 4,236 households in the town. As of 2001, Kanniyakumari had a total of 5,929 main workers: 11 cultivators, 78 agricultural labourers, 66 in house hold industries and 5,774 other workers. There were a total of 119 marginal workers: 4 marginal cultivators, 3 marginal agricultural labourers, 11 marginal workers in household industries and 101 other marginal workers.[10]

Transportation[edit]

  • Railway: Kanyakumari, Nagercovil & Kuzhithurai
  • Bus: Kanyakumari, Nagercovil & Marthandam

Tourism[edit]

The Gandhi Mandapam

Since the early 1970s, tourism has been an important activity in the town. Because of this it is one of the few small towns in South India where one can hear many of the different languages of India spoken in the street.

Of late, the promotion of tourism has increased, with increasing emphasis on attractions outside the town, such as the surrounding landscapes, as well as the historical and religious sites found around the district. Ultimately a total of 1.9 million tourists (domestic and foreign) visited Kanyakumari in 2007.[11]

Though there are several places of tourist-interest in the town and district, Kanyakumari is especially popular in India for its spectacular and unique sunrise and sunset, thanks to its being nearly surrounded by waters. On balmy, full-moon evenings (locally called Chitra Pournami), one can also see the moon-rise and sunset at the same time.

Tourist sites[edit]

View of the Kanyakumari temple.

The Kumari Amman or the Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore, is a Shakti Peetha dedicated to a manifestation of Parvati, the virgin goddess who did penance to obtain Lord Shiva's hand in marriage. The temple and the adjoining ghat, situated overlooking the shore, attract tourists from all over the world. The sparkling diamond nose-ring of the deity is said to be visible even from the sea.

On two rocky islets just off the shore, southeast of the Kumari Amman temple, are the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970 by Eknath Ranade, and the 133 feet (41 m) tall statue of Tamil saint–poet Thiruvalluvar, one of the biggest statues in Asia, completed in 2000 by sculptor V. Ganapati Sthapati. One of the rocks, called Sri Padhaparai, is said to bear the footprints of the virgin goddess. Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated on this rock for three days. Also on this rock, there is a Dhyana mandapam, an area for meditation. Ferry services are available to reach the memorial.

The Gandhi Memorial has been built on the spot where the urn containing the Mahatma's ashes was kept for public viewing before immersion. Resembling central Indian Hindu temples in form, the memorial was designed in such a way that on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, the first rays of the sun fall on the exact place where his ashes were kept.

Panorama of Sunset Point, Kanyakumari
Panorama View of Sunset Point with Vivekananda rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue visible at left and View Tower and Telescope House also in middle

Tourist information[edit]

The ferries transporting tourists from mainland to the islands can be seen with one returning to the mainland and the other one about to stop at the Tiruvalluvar statue after carrying over tourists from Vivekananda Rock

The state-owned Poompuhar Shipping Corporation runs ferry services between the town and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue, situated on rocky islets off the coast. The operation of the ferry service began in 1984. Two ferries were used to ferry the tourists until June 2013, after which a new ferry was added to the service on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Swamy Vivekananda.[12] Kanyakumari is directly connected by rail with almost all metropolitan cities in India.[13] The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, 90 km (56 mi) from Kanyakumari Town and 70 km (43 mi) from Nagercoil.[14] Kanyakumari is 744 km (462 mi) from Chennai.[15]

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Muttom of Kanyakumari Tamilnadu". Tamilnadu.com. 20 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Kanakasabhai, V (1997). The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago. Asian Educational Services. p. 10. ISBN 8120601505. 
  3. ^ Abraham, Shinu (2003). "Chera, Chola, Pandya: using archaeological evidence to identify the Tamil kingdoms of early historic South India.". Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific 42. 
  4. ^ a b "Kanyakumari Temples of Tamilnadu". templenet. 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  5. ^ http://silambam.us/varmakalai_techniques.html
  6. ^ http://www.nivalink.com/pilgrimage/shaktipeetha.html
  7. ^ "Ancient History of Kanyakumari". Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc – Kanniyakumari
  9. ^ "Climatological Information for Kanyakumari". World Weather Information Service. 
  10. ^ "Primary census abstract 2001". Directorate of Census Operations – Tamil Nadu. 2001. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Airport for Kanyakumari on the cards". "The Hindu". 15 January 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Third ferry service launched in Kanyakumari". The Hindu. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Kanyakumari railway station needs better infrastructure". The Hindu. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Kanyakumari". Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Kanyakumari District". Retrieved 22 February 2012>.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]