Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Kanyakumari

We had some breakfast and soon after Richard came to pick us up to go to Kaniyakumari (Cape Comorin). The day was already stiflingly hot and no inkling of rain was to be seen as up in north.

Richard & Jira outside Suchindram temple

Suchindram temple


Kanniyakumari is some 30k's south of Nagercoil, it is the southernmost point of the sub continent where the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean meet. Our first stop was at the Suchindram Thanumalayan hindu temple. As usual photography was prohibited. The temple itself is 1300 years old and still an active place of worship. Upon entering I had to remove my shirt and shoes. The entry was free so, I bought some pooja materials to make merit for Hanuman and Lakshmi. A Baba took us around showing the highlights of the premises. We could see where the oil lamps were placed in the olden times when hundreds of people were fed on the temple grounds and also the musical pillars carved out of single stone blocks, we also saw the only (?) female Ganesh statue in India.

Kanyakumari Church


Having done this stop we started further south to Kaniyakumari and soon reached the small city and the waterfront where there was two small islets with the Vivekananda Memorial built on one and on the other a tall statue of Thiruvalluvar, a famous Tamil poet. Transport was by small ferries that took people to and fro the islets. The wind was not strong but a stead breeze kept blowing and the swell was rolling in from the Indian Ocean which made the boarding a bit risky as the ferries were whisked forward and backwards while people were trying to board. Richard told us that sometimes the ferry service is suspended if the seas gets too rough so if you are on the Islets you need to sit it out there.

Vivekananda Memorial

The poet Thiruvalluvar



The Islet was very peaceful with the building serving as meditation halls and part museums. It is built to honor the Swami Vivekananda who visited the place in 1892 and attained a great state of enlightment and is now a very popular place to visit both for Indians and foreigners alike. The Vivekananda Memorial has even its own dedicated website. We walked around for awhile and admired the views but soon we felt a less spiritual rumble in our bellies and left for lunch in Kaniyakumari.

On Vivekananda

Exit from Vivekananda



For lunch we had a traditional thali that is a big stainless steel plate with lots of small bowls containing various dhal's, dahi, sweet dahi, rassam and veg curries. In the middle there is a mound of rice on a banana leaf. All you need now is a right hand with deft fingers to spoon it all up. We also managed to get some Kingfisher to wash it all down.

Swell from Indian Ocean, in background Kali temple


After lunch we walked around a bit checking the local stalls selling knick knacks for tourists. It was mostly engraved shells, T-shirts, slippers, sunglasses, spices etc. We walked to the Kali temple that is on the shore side facing the Memorial, there is also a Gandhi Mandapam (Memorial) where his ashes were kept before immersion into the sea took place. I saw another Gandhi tomb in New Delhi, so I wonder what is kept there.

Kattumaram


The shore side up from Kanyakumari is not that impressive, some hotels and guest houses are built there but the shore itself is pretty inaccessible. After awhile we ended up to the Church facing the Vivekananda and we also went inside. The church was pretty sparsely furnished and did not even have an organ. Otherwise it was beautiful. I walked to the beach behind the church where I could see several fishing boats laid up for the spawning season as well as one traditional Tamil craft called "Kattumaram", literally translated "bundled logs".

Kanyakumari

The "Kattumaram" is consisting of not much more than 2-3 tied up logs and Richard said they also put a sail on it. I think the Tamil fishermen have a lot of guts going out to sea in these crafts. As Jira was feeling tired we headed back to Nagercoil and Richard dropped us off at the Hotel. We took a short rest before Richard came and pickked us up in a tuk-tuk that took us to his house. At his house we met his wife Wonita, her niece Annabel and his eldest son Allester as well Richard's mom.

Women waiting for bus

After some small talk Jira went to try on how to put on an Indian sari and after wards she realized it is just like the Thai traditional dress but with an additional fold. Then it was time for food and we were served parathas with prawn curry and vegetables. Soon after it was time to get back to the Hotel for a good nights rest.

Jira trying on sari

Wonita & Richard



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