Kanyakumari Knowledge Guide
The place derives its name from the goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, considered to be the sister of Krishna, a goddess is believed to remove the rigidity from the mind, to whom women pray for marriage. In 1656, the Dutch East India company conquered Portuguese Ceylon from the Portuguese, and the name eventually corrupted to "Comorin" and was called Cape Comorin during British rule in India. The city was later renamed Kanyakumari by the Government of India and the Government of Madras.
According to a Hindu legend, Kanya Devi, an avatar of Parvati, was to marry Shiva, who failed to show up on his wedding day. Rice and other grains meant for the wedding feast remained uncooked and unused. As the legend goes, the uncooked grains turned into stones as time went by. Some believe that the small stones on the shore today, which look like rice, are indeed grains from the wedding that was never solemnised. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess who blesses pilgrims and tourists who flock the town. Her temple located in Kanyakumari is a Shakti Peetha or a holy shrine. According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani, from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, literally "hills where medicine lives". This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area. Marunthuvazh Malai is located near Kottaram about 7 km (4 mi) from Kanyakumari town on the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil highway. The sage Agasthya, who was an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. It is believed to be the reason so many medicinal herbs are found on the hills near Kanyakumari. A nearby village is named Agastheeswaram after the sage. Today, there is a small ashram on the middle of the Maruthuvazh Malai hill, which tourists visit (after a short trek from the base of the hill), both to visit the Ashram and also to take a glimpse of the sea near Kanyakumari a few kilometres away, and the greenery below.
The state-owned Poompuhar Shipping Corporation runs ferry services between the town and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue, situated on rocky islets off the coast. The operation of the ferry service began in 1984. Two ferries were used to ferry the tourists until June 2013, after which a new ferry was added to the service on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Swamy Vivekananda. Kanyakumari is directly connected by rail with almost all metropolitan cities in India. The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, 90 km (56 mi) from Kanyakumari Town and 70 km (43 mi) from Nagercoil. Kanyakumari is 744 km (462 mi) from Chennai.