During our stay in Tamil Nadu, we went to a plenty of great cities. We took a few days-trip around Tamil Nadu, with another family from Denmark, by van, and went to several towns, including Trichy, Madurai, Kanyakumari, followed by Rameshwaram.
Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula, and is the meeting point of 3 oceans; the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Back in time Kanyakumari was referred as the Alexandria of East, known for great culture, art, civilization and pilgrimage, and was famous for both trade and commerce. It is belived that Christianity entered the town through St. Thomas in year 52 AD, and later Islam entered in the 8th century AD. Also Jainism made its way to the town. Kanyakumari has been ruled by all 3 tamil dynasties, the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas.
Today Kanyakumari is known as the place of sunrises, and for the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Thiruvalluvar Statue. We went to the shore early morning, to experience the sunrise, but unfortunately it was too cloudy at that moment..
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
The philosopher, Swami Vivekananda visited Kanyakumari in 1892, prior to his Chicago trip, where he attended the World Religious Conference in 1893. He went to the Sri Paadapaarai rock (which is believed to have the imprints of Goddess Kanya Devi’s foot), where he meditated for 2 days and attained enlightment. He was in fact the diciple of Shri Ramakrishna. Vivekananda later played a prominent role in introducing Indian philosophy/Vedanta and Yoga to the West. In the year 1962, marking the birth centenary of Vivekananda, a Kanyakumari Committee was set up by a group, that established a memorial for him, opening in 1970 – the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
For many pilgrims, the memorial gives an enlighting experience. They come to discover the truths of life, and to meditate in front of the huge statue of Vivekananda. People leave their shoes outside and enter the peaceful Dhyana Mandapam (the Meditation Hall). As I’ve been meditating for years, meditating here was a peaceful and soulful experience.
The Thiruvalluvar Statue
Next to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, you see another, smaller rock with the statue of Thiruvalluvar, that was established on the 1st of January 2000 (the work began in 1990, completing in 1999).
The Thiruvalluvar (or Valluvar) Statue is a 133 feet (40,6 m) tall sculpture of the tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, who lived in either Madurai or Mylapore (or both cities, maybe) between the 4th and 7th century CE. His Thirukkural is a world-known work, containing a collection of 1330 couplets about ethics, love, and economial and political matters. It is known as “Ulaga Podhumarai” (Universal Wisdom/law), and has been praised by many non-tamil scholars, including people like Alexander Piatigorsky, Edward Jewitt Robinson, G U Pope and many more.
The height of the statue, 133 feet, denotes the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural book. The statue of Valluvar itself is 92 feet, standing on a 38-feet tall pedestal, representing the 38 chapters about Virtue, while the statue itself represents the rest of the book, the 2 chapters on Wealth and Love. The whole statue represents the thought of solid virtue is the way to earn wealth and love. Also the right hand has three of its fingers pointing skywards, again significing the three topics of the Thirukkural.
Legend of Kanya Kumari
It is belived that Goddess Parvathi as the avatar Bagavathy (later becoming Kanya Devi), was set to marry lord Shiva here. Unfortunately he never turned up, and the wedding therefore never took place. It is said that the rice and cereals brought for the event stay uncooked, and even today you can buy stones looking like rice and cereals, that are believed to be leftovers from the marriage. The poor Goddess became angry and broke everything she saw. Once gained her composure, she decided to stay a virgin, and became Goddess Kanya Devi, the virgin goddess, blessing the pilgrims and tourists.
Years after the incident, Bana tried to catch Bagavathy’s affection without knowing who she really was. The infuriated Bagavathy slaughtered Bana. Moments before his death he realized who she was, and prayed to her to absolve him from his sins. Bagavathy maintained her divinity, in the place were the Kanya Kumari Temple is located, and later becoming a town named after her.
The town of Kanyakumari seen from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.