Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kanyakumari

Earlier this year a colleague invited me for his wedding in Nagercoil. That opened up an opportunity to visit Kanyakumari which is around 35 kms from the wedding venue. Initially I had planned to cover Trivandrum also but then I joined the office group for a shorter trip. In this post I will cover our itineraries and then also go over what all you could do while you are there.


We left Bangalore by Nagercoil Express at 5pm. It is not a train journey if you do not stand by the door and experience the breeze and the smoke/dust forming a layer on your face.


We had a mini potluck on the train with everyone bringing something parceled for dinner. The train was running late but we ended up reaching earlier than the scheduled time. If you happen to wake up early then do check out the amazing sceneries and the fresh breath of air as you approach the Nagercoil junction. It was actually cooler than the TN that I had experienced earlier. I think the windmills were actually acting as a giant fan to cool this part of TN :P

We reached Nagercoil by 7:30 am and the groom had booked a minibus (yeah we were around 15 of us) to take us from Nagercoil to Kanyakumari. There are private and government buses that you can take from the station to Kanyakumari. You also have cabs and autos if you are in groups! Our rooms were booked in Gopinivas hotel which was 100 mts from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial ferry terminal.

The plan for the day was to visit the Rock Memorial and then the beaches for sunset and hopefully wake up early for the sunrise next morning. Yes, the southern tip of the country lets you see both the sunset and sunrise (subject to weather conditions). The plan started getting shaky when it started drizzling and got windy within minutes of us reaching the hotel. We were told the ferry might not be operational if weather does not change. Long story short, the weather did change and we stood in the queue for the ferry!

The ferry cost is 20 rupees and there is an additional charge of Rs 10 to enter the rock memorial. There is also an express ticket which is expensive and unless the queue is too much it may not be worth it. The wait time is under an hour from the time you stand in the queue to reaching the memorial. You need to wear the life jacket and sit for the short 10 mins ride.


The ferry does a 360 degrees turn so that everyone gets a view of the memorial.

The island has a Sita temple and a museum at the place where Swami Vivekananda meditated. The meditation room lets you sit in peace for hours (unless it is crowded in which case the staff will ask you to move out). There is a bookshop where you can buy souvenirs which would be books and paintings of Swami Vivekananda.

There is a sunrise calendar which tells you which direction to look for the sunrise based on the time of the year. From the island you can also see the vastness of the sea/ocean that reminds you of the infinite possibilities out there (To travel ofcourse). You will not get anything to eat on the island so in the interest of not littering the place, please have your food before you enter the queue.

After reaching back to the mainland, we spent a few minutes admiring the coast and thinking why wasn’t a bridge built from mainland to the memorial as it is not that far off. We had left from the ferry terminal at around 11:45 am and we reached back at around 1:30pm.
We started searching for a good place for lunch and ended up at this roof top restaurant called The Ocean. While the food was good, the view from the balcony was great.

I had just bought One Plus 6 earlier that week and was very much impressed with the zoom of the camera. The below pic was taken from the same place as the above pic but with full zoom. (Not paid to promote OnePlus but this has a damn good camera)


We rested for a bit that afternoon and head out to explore the city by foot. Kanyakumari has a lot of temples and couple of churches (that looks a lot like temples). The hotels here offer a 3-4 hrs guided group tour in bus/TT for Rs 300. Tour starts from the hotel and drops you at the shopping places at the city center. No, we did not take the tour. While walking to the beach from our hotel, we passed by 4 of the places mentioned in the tour and we were so glad to have not opted for the tour. The sunrise point is by the temple and it is another vantage point to view the memorial.

The water here is aggressive so it is advised not to enter water. Since we did not have anyone guiding us, we don't know if we actually visited the sangam but I am pretty sure we passed by the place since we covered the entire coastline from sunrise to sunset point :) 
There are electric carts that will take you to the sunset beach from the city center and costs 10 bucks per person. It is a good 3 kms ride by the sea walk. The sunset point is nice and you can enter the water here as long as you stay by the beach and not go further.

It was so cloudy that we did not get to see the sunset. We disappointedly head back to the hotel and on the way stopped for some roadside snacks and tea. And while we were at it we saw the lit up memorial. Couldn't get a good picture of it though.


We passed via the shopping areas and the stone ornaments were pretty cheap here. I bought a set for wife and she absolutely loved it. Well thanks to whatsapp video call, she chose the set herself but then credits to me to think of calling and not pick a random thing that might have never seen the light of day or darkness of night (just kidding) :P

We packed some food for dinner, ordered some room service and played Uno till around 4am! Yes, you might be thinking when is the wedding since I started this post saying the trip was planned for the wedding. We were asked to be at the hall by 8:30am for breakfast. Considering the travel time to the venue we had to leave by 7:30am and that meant waking up by 6:30am and that meant around 2hrs of sleep that night. However, as adamant as one could be, I wanted to see the sunrise which as per google was gonna happen at 5:45am. So yeah, I was up by 5:30 am and I reached the sunrise point which was by the sea walk by 5:45am. The view at the time was spectacular and worth the sleep that I missed.


I had downloaded the compass app just to make sure that I am looking in the right direction but technology can only get you so far! After waiting for 30 mins among the huge crowd there, I realized that the clouds had managed to block the view of the sunrise and there was no point waiting further as it was already pretty bright :(


We then head to the venue, had a nice breakfast, saw the wedding and had the nice wedding lunch at 11:30am. Yeah, the thing about the Tamil wedding is that it starts around 9 am and gets over by 10:30 am!

Our train was at 7pm so we had a lot of time to spare and we had already checked out of the hotel. We decided to head to the Thirparappu Falls which was around 40 kms from Nagercoil. Due to the bad/narrow roads it can take upto 2 hrs to reach the falls.

This looks like an artificially created waterfall and has separate bathing area for men and women. It also has safety rails so that you do not get carried away by the current. There is a seperate kids section with lifeguards which was a refreshing change from other falls that we visit. There is an entry fees but it is worth it. You can climb to the top of the falls and explore the backwaters, temples and the elephant camps at this place. [Spoiler Alert] When you take the walk around the place you realize that the water you so much enjoyed bathing in is the same water that the elephants bathed in upstream. But don’t let this fact stop you from having fun :)

My phone was with a colleague and they had wandered off and we didn't meet again until we came back to the parking. So I do not have more pics of the place. We were back in Nagercoil station by 6pm, well before the departure time of 7pm. That concluded the amazing trip of Kanyakumari and yes, a weekend is sufficient to visit Kanyakumari :)

Other Places around Kanyakumari which we could but didn't visit:
- Sri Veera Hanuman 27' statue
- Nagaraja Temple
- Padmanabapuram Maharaj Palace
- Suchindrum Temple

Things you can get
- The Nagercoil Banana and Tapioca chips are famous and you can get these snacks home
- The sea shells and ornaments made from it

Date of Trip: 16-17 June 2018

Credits:
- The groom Suren for arranging stay and transport and guiding us through the trip
- Nirmala, Nandeesh and Sourabh for coordinating with the ticket bookings and ensuring the trip was a success.
- All other colleagues who accompanied to make it a memorable trip :)

You might also be interested to read: Mysore, Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil, Leh-Nubra-Pangong, Places to visit in Bhutan,


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