Top 13 Things to Do in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu


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Kanyakumari, which was called Cape Comorin during the British rule of India, is a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu, near the Kerala border. It's renowned for being the southernmost point of India and the meeting point of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal.

The town has spiritual significance as the abode of the virgin Goddess Kanya Kumari, who is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the divine Mother Goddess. Kanyakumari is the place where the goddess is believed to have done penance in order to get Lord Shiva to marry her, which means the town is a popular destination for pilgrims and devotees. People come from all over to bathe in the holy saltwater and make an offering at the temple, but there are many more things to do when visiting Kanyakumari. Read on to discover memorials, palaces, and natural wonders that are worth a side trip during your trip to this South Indian town.

01 of 13

Feel the Rush of Water at Courtallam Falls

Old Falls, Courtallam, Tirunelveli Dist, Tamilnadu, India.

yeSMK Photography / Getty Images

Tenkasi, W6JQ+84H, District, Courtallam, Tamil Nadu 627802, India

If you want to get out of the city, a trip to the roaring waters of Courtallam Falls is a great way to do just that. It takes about three hours to drive the 76 miles (123 kilometers) to the natural park, but once you get there, you'll find nine beautiful waterfalls that have been featured as a backdrop in many classic and contemporary Bollywood films. It was also a subject that the poet Thirukudarasappa Kavirayar sang about in his work, "Kutraala Kuravanji." In the summer, you may be able to witness Saral Vizha, an eight-day festival where people come to bathe in the falls, whose water is said to contain therapeutic properties. The nearest town is Tenkasi, which also has a train station if you prefer to travel by rail.

02 of 13

Savor the Local Cuisine

Crispy fried bananas stuffed with coconut and sweets. eathakka appam, pazham pori,

SUSANSAM / Getty Images

Every region of India can proudly present its most treasured dishes, and Tamil Nadu and the town of Kanyakumari are no different. Here, you can try everything from savory appam pancakes, which are made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk, to dishes like maravazhi kilangu, which is a boiled tapioca root with fish curry. You can also expect to find a lot of jackfruit and banana used in the local cuisine, with pazha bajji—ripe bananas dipped in batter and fried in hot oil—a must-try treat. To wash it all down, try some tropical drinks like Nungu Sarbath, a palm fruit-based juice.

03 of 13

Visit Vivekananda Rock Memorial

Swami Vivekananda Memorial center situated on a small rock island in Kanyakumari, India

AAGGraphics / Getty Images 

Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629702, India
Phone +91 4652 247 012

Revered Indian poet and Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda visited Kanyakumari in 1892, towards the end of an extensive trip across India as a wandering monk. His transformation into an influential leader and reformer is attributed to the three days he spent meditating on a large offshore rock, where Goddess Kanya Kumari is said to have carried out part of her penance by standing on one foot. According to ancient Hindu texts, the Puranas, the rock was blessed by the touch of her foot.

A memorial was built on the rock in 1970 to honor Swami Vivekananda. It consists of a pavilion with a life-size bronze statue of Swami, a hall with information about his life, and a meditation area. There's also a carving of the Goddess' foot on the rock.

04 of 13

Visit the Thiruvalluvar Statue

Thiruvalluvar Statue, Kanyakumari

Erick Tseng / Getty Images 

Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India
Phone +91 44 2538 3333

A towering statue of the great Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar stands on a smaller neighboring rock, just off the coast of Kanyakumari. The foundation stone was laid in 1979 and the work was completed 20 years later, in 1999. Ferries to Vivekananda Rock Memorial stop at the Thiruvalluvar statue afterward if the tide permits. It's possible to go inside the base of the statue and climb the stairs up to its feet for a superb view, as long as it's not closed for periodic maintenance.

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05 of 13

Bathe at Triveni Sangam

Kanyakumari, southernmost point of India.

nonimatge / Getty Images 

3HH2+68G, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629702, India

The remarkable confluence where the oceans merge, known as Triveni Sangam, is considered to be powerful and sacred. A dip in the water is said to wash away all sins and provide liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Even if you don't want to participate in the ritual, it's still worth spending some time at this unique place and contemplating its essence. Depending on the tide and weather, you may even be able to distinguish the oceans from each other, based on variations in their shades of blue.

06 of 13

Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

ajijchan / Getty Images 

Priceless sunrises and sunsets, on Kanyakumari's watery horizon, are among the finest in India. Sunrise, alongside the Thiruvalluvar statue, is arguably the most majestic of the two. However, sunsets are particularly special on full moon nights, when the moon rises from the sea opposite the setting sun at about the same time. The following morning, it's possible to see the sun rising and the full moon setting together. Seaside sunset views are best enjoyed from the beach between December and February (and are only really visible from mid-October to mid-March).

07 of 13

Pay Your Respects to Goddess Kanya Kumari

Kumari Amman Temple in Kanyakumari

Eddie Gerald / Getty Images 

Temple Road, 3HH2+P9H, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629702, India
Phone +91 4652 246 223

The town's 3,000-year-old Kumari Amman Temple (also known as Arulmigu Bhagavathy Amman Temple) is dedicated to Goddess Kanya Kumari, who is worshiped as a great protector after destroying the mighty demon king Banasura. This important temple sits by the sea near Triveni Sangam and has a beautiful black stone idol of the goddess. The standout feature is her sparkling bejeweled nose ring. Non-Hindus are allowed to enter the temple, but photography is prohibited. If visiting in October, try to visit during the Navratri Festival.

08 of 13

See Where Gandhi's Ashes Were Kept

Gandhi memorial at Kanyakumari.

Saurabh / Getty Images 

opposite Kanyakumari, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629702, India

Mahatma Gandhi visited Kanyakumari a couple of times, and some of his ashes were scattered into the sea there on February 12, 1948. A memorial was later constructed at the location where the ashes were kept for public viewing, near Kumari Amman Temple. Its architecture resembles that of temples in Odisha and the design is quite exceptional. Every year at noon on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, the sun's rays fall through a hole in the temple's roof and onto the place where the ashes sat in an urn.

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09 of 13

Browse the Shops and Stalls

Vendor selling sea shells at Kanyakumari.

Louis Jawitz / Getty Images 

Sannathi St, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

Shells, painted shells, handicrafts made from shells, and products decorated with shells dominate the souvenir selection at Kanyakumari. They're sold everywhere and collectors will love them! You can even get a customized shell with your name engraved on it. Vendors line the seafront walkway with an array of colossal shells. You'll find more in the shops on atmospheric Sannathi Street, which is the main market area that leads to Kumari Amman Temple. This market has shops selling lovely woven handloom saris as well.

10 of 13

Explore Vattakottai Fort and Beach

Vattakottai fort in Kanyakumari

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1|60 vattakottai, 4HG8+4CG, Vattakkottai, Tamil Nadu 629401, India

About 15 minutes north of Kanyakumari, the 18th-century Vattakottai Fort dates back to the rule of the Venad kings of Travancore who developed the area as a coastal military base. It was the last seaside fort they built and it is now being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The fort provides fantastic views of the Bay of Bengal and the Western Ghats, making it a good spot for photography. There are no entry fees to visit.

11 of 13

Go on a Day Trip to Padmanabhapuram Palace

settings Padmanabhapuram palace, the biggest wooden palace in Asia

Tuul / robertharding / Getty Images 

Chakala, Thuckalay, Tamil Nadu 629175, India
Phone +91 4651 250 255

About an hour northwest of Kanyakumari, the town of Padmanabhapuram is a popular day trip with regal heritage. It was once the capital of the princely state of Travancore before the king relocated the capital to Trivandrum (now the capital of Kerala) in 1795. The main attraction is Padmanabhapuram Palace, which dates back to 1600. The largest wooden palace in Asia, it boasts admirable craftsmanship and architecture—particularly with the detailed woodwork on the walls and ceilings. The palace complex includes a museum and is spread out over more than six acres within a fort.

12 of 13

Be Dazzled at Thovalai Flower Market

Jasmine for sale in Tamil Nadu.

Jim Simmen / Getty Images 

6GH3+XQ9, Thovalai, Tamil Nadu 629302, India
Phone +91 73392 66231

You probably wouldn't expect one of Asia's largest wholesale flower markets to be in a village 30 minutes north of Kanyakumari. The area around Thovalai specializes in growing flowers, particularly an unusual variety of jasmine, and the market there brims with piles of scented buds. Vibrant roses and marigolds add to the colorful spectacle. The market opens before sunrise, so plan to get there early before all the best flowers are gone.

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13 of 13

Drive Through One of the World's Largest Wind Farms

Wind turbines at sunset, Kanyakumari, India

Manish / Getty Images 

Aralvaimozhi, 7H78+XP6, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu 629301, India

If you're interested in renewable energy, you can combine a trip to the Thovalai flower market with a drive through Muppandal Wind Farm by continuing about 15 minutes further along National Highway 944. Notably, it's one of the largest onshore wind farms in the world and India's biggest source of wind energy.

Its motley assembly of more than 3,000 turbines stretches for miles, curiously intermingled with palm trees and banana plants. The farm produces 1,500 megawatts of power in total; to put that into perspective, a single 2-megawatt wind turbine can power 400 houses. The fact that the turbines are sponsored and commissioned by private companies accounts for the lack of uniformity in their design.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Kanyakumari famous for?

    The town of Kanyakumari is named after the Hindu Goddess Kanya Kumari, an incarnation of the divine Mother Goddess. A popular pilgrimage destination, devotees travel to Kanyakumari to make an offering at the Bhagavati Kumari Amman temple, which is dedicated to the virgin Goddess. Kanyakumari is also famous for being the southernmost point in India.

  • When is the best time to visit Kanyakumari?

    The best time to visit Kanyakumari is from October to March, when average highs are around 89 degrees F and average lows are around 63 degrees F. October is a particularly popular month to visit thanks to the three-day Cape Festival. In addition to hosting cultural programs like traditional dances, the festival invites people to take a holy dip in the Triveni Sangam, where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean meet.

  • What language is spoken in Kanyakumari?

    Tamil and Malayalam are the two most commonly spoken languages in Kanyakumari.

Article Sources
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  1. Utsav. "Saral Vizha, Courtallam." Accessed October 13, 2022.

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Top 13 Things to Do in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu