(Last Updated on : 16/08/2010)
Kanniyakumari is picturesquely situated at the Land's End at the confluence of the three seas. It has been attracting vast multitudes of pilgrims and tourists alike for years. Though the town has grown as a major tourist spot over the years, its fame as a pilgrim centre dates back to the Puranic era.
The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram. It is located 85 km away. Kanniyakumari is a major rail terminus too. Nagercoil, another important railway junction, is 20 km away.
Sage Parasurama is said to have installed the deity of Devi Bhagavathi on the shores here. A small gopuram on the northern entrance of the temple leads one to the sanctum. The beautiful image of the Goddess in resplendent glory, with a rosary in Her right hand doing eternal penance, bestows on the devotee immense wealth of spiritual energy and peace of mind.
Lord Ganesha, Surya, Bala Soundari, the processional deity of the Goddess, and Lord Ayyappa has separate shrines on the prakarams. A well inside the second prakaram, known as Moola Ganga Theertham, provides water for the Devi's abhishekam. The eastern entrance, facing the sea, remains closed throughout the year except for the Aaraattu rituals.
According to a legend, Banasura, the King of Demons, had obtained a boon from Lord Siva that he could be vanquished only by a virgin. Unable to bear the harassment of the Asura king, the Devas invoked Goddess Parashakti to redeem them. Shakti came here as a virgin girl.
Lord Siva of Suchindrum wished to marry the Goddess and the wedding was fixed for an auspicious hour before dawn. Devarishi Narada, realising that the marriage will spoil the end of Banasura, falsely heralded the break of dawn by assuming the form of a cock even as the wedding party was on its way to Kanniyakumari. The Divine Wedding did not take place as Lord Shiva returned to Suchindrum disappointed. The Devi also resumed Her penance on the rock, which is now known as Sripadaparai, a few hundred meters offshore.
Meanwhile, Banasura heard about the beauty of the girl and came to request Her hand in marriage. When the Devi rejected the idea, the demon king decided to win Her by force. This led to a fierce battle in which the Goddess killed the demon. The relieved Devas returned blessed.
The Sripadaparai is now known as Swami Vivekananda Rock where the holy feet of the Goddess is enshrined.
The tradition here is to take a holy dip at the bathing ghat at the confluence of the three seas. There are about 25 Teerthams on the shores.
Sunrise and sunset seen from the shores are brilliant spectacles. Though sunrise can be viewed round the year, sunset is clearly visible only from around October 15 to March 15. On the evening of Chitra Poornima (April-May) one can witness the rare spectacle of sunset and moonrise simultaneously.