Kanyakumari

The very tip of the sub-continent can be found Here

The island statue just off the coast

The island statue just off the coast

Kanyakumari sits at the bottom of India, at the very southern tip of the the country. It’s Lands End, where you can sit and stare out at the three bodies of water that meet here: the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. We only spent one day here, and to be honest there wasn’t much to do, but the setting was just so spectacular that we were very glad we came.

Probably the most interesting occurrence was actually on the train ride to Nagercoil, from where we caught a rickshaw the remaining twenty minutes to Kanyakumari itself. It was about four in the morning, and about a dozen shirtless Indian men wearing black dhotis crowded into our tiny sleeper berth (there are two parallel sets of three bunks, one on top of the other, with a small space in between that was now packed with shirtless dudes). I was in a middle bunk, and Denae in the one above me, and suddenly I woke up to an insanely loud chanting about six inches from my face. These guys were in the middle of some kind of Hindu ceremony, where the leader would sing out, sounding a lot like an auctioneer to my ear, and after a while the other eleven men would give an answering chant. There was clapping, singing, stomping, and all sorts of

About as far south in India as you can get

About as far south in India as you can get

loudness, and remember this was going on at four AM. And to make things more interesting, at the center of all this was a bowl filled withsome kind of oil that had been set on fire and set on the top bunk opposite of us! It was just blazing away, issuing out this dark acrid smoke that quickly filled the whole berth. Now I’m all for cultural awareness, tolerance, experiencing new things and many other similar PC buzzwords, but the sweaty manflesh that I found myself pressed into the wall to avoid, along with having to breath through my sheet to avoid the smoke, had me just a teensy bit irritated. Okay maybe very irritated. Four AM is prime sleeping time, and hell I get annoyed when someone turns the light on at night on the train. These guys were taking it a little far and doing it way too close to me, and I was wishing that they could have violated all of those maximum occupancy and health and fire codes somewhere else. But this is India, the land of overcrowding and (usually) religious tolerance, where the concept of the “space bubble” really doesn’t exist because there just isn’t room for it. So I managed to hold my tongue and they finished up about fifteen minutes later, which felt like a freaking eternity. Many people probably would have been delighted to see such a close up example of Spiritual India, but frankly I’m not one of those people. At least at 4am. Chock it up as a “cultural experience”…

Kanyakumari was full of the same group of Hindu pilgrims that we’d seen on the train, wearing the same all-black outfit, the men usually shirtless. Sometimes it seems like every place we go to in India is considered especially holy for some reason or another, and given its geographical significance and the confluence of the seas it’s not surprising that Kanyakumari is considered very special indeed. Much of the town was set up exclusively for the hordes of religious pilgrims that come here, with many hotels, restaurants and shops selling different sorts of offerings. Actually most of the town was set up that way; other than the shops and such there wasn’t much there.

We visited a Gandhi memorial building where Gandhi’s ashes were kept for a while before they were scatteredIMG_1888 into the water. For quite a while we just sat at the very tip of the peninsula, at the very tip of India in fact, and looked out at the water. It’s a beautiful place, and fun to picture a map and match it up with the geography we were looking at. We were going to take a boat ride out to the nearby island with a religious shrine and a huge statue, but the lines were so long that we decided against it. The only other noteworthy thing I can remember is eating the best tandorri chicken I’ve ever tasted at one of the local restaurants. The next morning we were ready to move on, headed into Kerala and the tourist beach of Varkala where we’d finally be able to do some swimming.

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