Recently, I had an occasion to go to Kanyakumari to visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. This post details my experiences about the whole trip.
Our itinerary was as follows :
- Go by train to Trivandrum. Visit a few places there.
- Hire a taxi for our onward journey to Kanyakumari.
Our group consisted of 8 people.
We started out by an over night train so as to reach Trivandrum early in the morning. Immediately on arrival, we rented a room at Trivandrum railway station. The room was spacious and had all the amenities like running water, an attached toilet and two beds.
The cost of the room for the day was Rs 500 for two people with Rs 125 extra for each additional person. However, with some haggling with the person in charge (attendant) – because we needed the room only for a few hours to freshen up (like taking a bath, availing of the toilet and so on) – we paid only Rs 600.
On hindsight, the attendant would have agreed at a lower price as well.
On the plus side, the attendant helped us in availing a taxi for our needs in Trivandrum and onward journey to Kanyakumari.
The taxi we hired was a Mahindra Xylo 6 seater. All 8 of us were able to fit into the taxi comfortably. Mahindra Xylo has good leg room and the seats were comfortable. I do recommended this vehicle for long distance travel. Just make sure the number of people in your group are 6 or less.
Cost of taxi for the one way trip from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari (~95 Km) – Rs 2900. This fare includes the Rs 350 you have to pay for inter-state permit. If you want A/C (highly recommended in this sweltering weather) pay Rs 300 extra.
Traveling time – Just over 2.5 hrs
Road condition – Good, except there was high traffic which made the journey quite sluggish.
We started out from Trivandrum at around 12:30 PM and reached Kanyakumari at 3:15 in the evening.
Accommodation in Kanyakumari
We hired rooms at the Vivekananda Kendram. If you are going to Kanyakumari, I recommend this place for stay instead of some hotel resort.
The prices for stay at the Vivekananda Kendram range from Rs 100 for dormitory style accommodation with common baths to Rs 2000 for cottages. So their accommodation caters to every budget.
See the full price list below.
Vivekananda Kendram is very pleasant. There is a lot to see in the campus itself. You may call it a self contained township. It has a school, a nursery, canteen, post office, dispensary, a bank branch, a park … In fact, you can spend a whole day exploring the Vivekananda Kendram.
The place is serene and well maintained.
The rooms we hired at the Vivekananda Kendram were neat and clean.
The canteen provides wholesome vegetarian food at nominal prices.
However, the food portions for these prices are noticeably smaller than what you get in a hotel. So the food is not necessarily cheaper.
The two main highlights of visit to Kanyakumari (other than the Vivekananda Rock Memorial) are watching the sun rise and sun set.
Vivekananda Kendram has access to the beach where you can watch the sun rise.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
A visit to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial is the main highlight of a trip to Kanyakumari. It is a marvel of architecture. It consists of two rocks. One has the Vivekananda temple, and the other has a majestic statue of Saint Thiruvalluvar.
To visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, you have to catch a boat from the Kanyakumari boat jetty.
The boat service itself is run by the government owned Poompuhar Shipping Corporation. There are 3 boats making the run and each boat has a capacity of 150 people.
Each person is provided a life jacket. However, very few bother to wear it.
The boat timings are from 6:30 AM to 4:00 PM.
Cost of a ticket is Rs 20. Once you embark at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, there is an additional entry fee of Rs 10 per person.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial itself is pretty awesome and is definitely worth a visit.
Apart from the majestic temple dedicated to Vivekananda Swami, there is a room where you can sit and meditate, and numerous shops selling curios and books.
Thankfully, they have also built separate toilets for men and women at the Rock Memorial, which is really comforting for those who want to freshen up.
Once you have finished seeing the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, you can hop into the boat and visit the second rock which has a giant statue of Saint Thiruvalluvar.
Then it is back to the mainland.
Other places of interest in Kanyakumari
Apart from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Vivekananda Kendram, there are a few other places to visit in and around Kanyakumari.
You should visit the Kanyakumari Devi temple. The Gandhi Mandapam and the Wandering Monk Exhibition are close to each other.
About 11 Km from Kanyakumari is the magnificent Suchindram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This should be in your itinerary.
If you are driving down from Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) to Kanyakumari, you can visit the Padmanabhapuram Palace which is 65 Km from Trivandrum on the way to Kanyakumari. The palace is a Kerala architectural masterpiece with exquisite mural paintings, wooden carvings and sculpture.
How to plan your trip to Kanyakumari
These are my recommendations.
Plan your trip such that you have altogether 3 whole days to spare in Trivandrum and Kanyakumari.
Day 1 : Reach Trivandrum early in the morning preferably by train. Ideally you should catch an overnight train so as to reach Trivandrum between 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM.
Freshen up at the railway station itself (you can avail rooms/ dormitories at the station).
Hire a taxi for your travel in Trivandrum and onward journey to Kanyakumari.
Hop into the taxi and visit Shri Pathmanabaswami temple and Pazhavangadi Ganapati temple. Darshan timings is between 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM in the morning. It is recommended that you visit the temple at 8:00 AM itself. After that have breakfast in a nearby hotel – there are lots of good vegetarian hotels nearby.
If you are in the mood, you can visit Kovalam beach and spend an hour absorbing the breeze. Kovalam beach is only 13 Km from Trivandrum.
At around 12:00 PM, have lunch and immediately start for Kanyakumari in the same taxi. It is a 2.5 hour journey. On the way, stop over for a visit to the Padmanabhapuram Palace. The timings at Padmanabhapuram Palace are 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM all days except Mondays and National holidays.
Reach Kanyakumari and check in at Vivekananda Kendram. PS: There are ample rooms available at Vivekananda Kendram. However, to be on the safe side, it will be better if you book the rooms in advance before the start of your journey.
Day 2 : Get up early in the morning (5:30 AM) and go to the Sunrise point to watch the sun rise. Spend some time exploring the Vivekananda Kendram premises and absorbing the peaceful atmosphere.
Visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial (the last boat to the rock is at 4:00 PM), Gandhi Mandapam, and Wandering Monk Exhibition. If you have time left, you can also go around exploring the shops at Kanyakumari.
Watch the sun set at 6:00 PM.
Day 3 : Get up early in the morning and visit Kanyakumari Devi temple. Hop onto a public transport (bus or taxi) and visit Suchindram temple 11 Km from Kanyakumari on the way to Nagarcoil.
In the evening, take a train from Kanyakumari railway station for your return journey home.
A few words of caution
Be wary of the traders in Kanyakumari. If you are not watchful, you might end up paying a premium price, or worse – pay for sub-standard or damaged items.
Hotels in Kanyakumari – You will find a lot of hotels and restaurants sporting well known names. Be aware that it is just a ruse to attract gullible tourists. These hotels/restaurants are in no way affiliated to the parent concerns. For example, I came across a couple of Taj Hotels in Kanyakumari which have no relation to the famed Taj Group of hotels.
While buying anything, a bit of bargaining might help in lowering the price. Though it may not always work to your advantage.