19. With Rain and Clouds

@Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India.

There were questions about why someone would go to Kanyakumari during off-season. Lots of rain was going to happen and the clouds were to hide the sun forever with the support of monsoon. But these questions had no sense when directed at me. I never cared about any of these; my journey to Kanyakumari would never be to see the sunrise or the sunset; it wouldn’t be to jump around on the beach even if they would form a small part of it. My aim would always be to find it’s significance in the history as well as it’s spirituality which has struggled to maintain it’s place due to the high number of tourists who come to see the beach along with the sunset and the sunrise. Used to be known by what I would call a heavy name Cape Comorin, this is the southernmost tip of India and the peninsula which it is, we can claim that it is the geographical end of the Indian peninsula. Therefore, it has it’s own significance in the attractions list of India and with no doubt, could be one of the most interesting place in the South for the tourists who love the sea. For others like me, it’s significance varies.

Once ruled by the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas, this became part of the Venad kingdom which later became Travancore under Marthanda Varma. A few kilometres away from the town, the king had also defeated the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel which ended their hopes of conquering India. It seemed to have a special identity of it’s own, compared to any other towns; it was clearly tourist oriented, but it hadn’t lost it’s soul to anything influenced by the outside or anything which would have a strange effect on the lands, unlike those tourist places which develop in a horrible, artificial way. Kanyakumari has had it’s changes, but for now, it seemed all for the good. The hotels and restaurants, they remain basically simple along with being good enough; the local stores and shops, they remain what they should be and are not replaced by huge shopping places selling almost the same things at higher prices. The monuments remain what they are, even if there are people who don’t seem to care; but we know some people will think only in one direction; their perspective will continue to be covered with that veil of selfishness and monuments will have a tough time standing them.

As they say, the most important things to see are the sunrise and the sunset. But during that time, finding sun from between the clouds was a tough job. I could see something; the sun from between the clouds was still good for photography, but it was something I could see from Cochin itself and there was nothing about it. But by taking photos with the landscape, it could be proven to be Kanyakumari which was a fine thing to do. The sunrise was with tea from the hotel and a good number of people would be at the top of most of the buildings at that time. They would stand there, curse the clouds and the monsoon and go back down. I stayed there for longer with the wind and myself. It did me the favour of making the tea cold and with a few rain drops added, it increased the quantity upto an extent. Some girls from the opposite hotel looked at me as if I had no other job. I had to take the mobile phone and call some random people back home so that I didn’t look so lost at that time. I never really loved the roaming calls, but it is still good to keep in touch with the world we leave behind. Once upon a time, it was during a tour that tsunami struck Kerala; but in this case, being at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, we would know it first, long before the news of our death in the television.

Even as the sunrise was not that special, the sunset had some better moments. The sunset point was reached much early and with some powerful, cool wind, it was a good place to sit around. There was also a statue of St. Mary with Infant Jesus, and it stood tall there with the rocks all around. Even the rocks formed a wonderful background and some of them were pretty huge. It would have been awesome to watch that sunset and take photos from various rocks and from between them, but the clouds came in at the last moment to make the large number of tourists walk back in disappointment. But still I was good with whatever I could capture from that situation; as usual there was the sun from behind the clouds as well as the landscapre blessed by rocks and the distant churches and temples which faced the sea in courage as if asking to try it’s power with another tsunami. It was that body of fire, the fire-starter going for sleep; not considering any scientific facts; it had done it’s duty for the day and it was it’s much needed break. It was the symbol for our need for rest, if we do work hard. That surely was a tiresome day, as there was enough travel on that day including the train journey in Kanyakumari Express. So it came as the official retirement notice for the day.

What would come next are the two rocks which they have used in an efficient manner, one for the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the other for the tall Thiruvalluvar statue. The first one is for the man who immortalised India all over the world and the second for the man who contributed to Tamil and Indian literature with Thirukkural – that work of art which dates back by centuries and concentrates on ethics. Both are wonderful structures and combined with the effect of being an island in the sea, it is a great experience. As the ferry gives us the opportunity to visit both the rocks, it is never a lost cause. We could also feel the power sea there. But the carelessness of the people and their disregard to the monuments is still disheartening. The people stand where they are not supposed to stand and sit where they are not supposed to enter; when it is said ‘Do not touch’, they touch. There is also the board ‘Do not spit’ and I won’t dare to look there. The Thiruvalluvar statue might get the worst of it as there didn’t seem to be enough security or volunteers out there to keep an eye on the tourists. It is the best statue I have seen in India and I can only hope that it stays the same until my next possible visit.

The Kanyakumari Temple and the Gandhi Manapam along with the Tsunami Memorial can be seen by just taking a walk around the seaside road. There are also three main churches around, two of them which can be seen from the rocks itself. There are also smaller temples and statues which has blessed the coast with their presence The coastline of Kanyakumari looks the best from the rocks and what we see from those rocks, we can follow when we are back to the road. But travelling in those boats when the sea is fierce can be a little worrying for some people; as there were people who jumped from the boat and fell on the ground; luckily for them, they were not hurt and they didn’t go between the boat and the docking place which has a gap which changes it’s distance with time and powerful waves of the sea; the boat is never static and it is difficult to keep it close to the rocks as we noticed. The Wandering Monk Exhibition will give you some good information about Swami Vivekananda. I was worried only by the slight absence of tea in restaurants; I got to have Aloo Paratha after a long time and I loved it, but the tea was missing in many of the restaurants and I hoped not for the extinction of the lovely drink in that great place; it would be a cruel thing and a blow to the future of tea in this world of popular alcoholic drinks which dominate.

Diving out —>