A trip to Padmanabhapuram, Suchindram & Kanyakumari – Part 2
SUCHINDRAM THANUMAYALAN TEMPLE
We caught a local bus back to Thakkalai from the bus stop just outside the Padmanabhapuram palace. The bus service was not that frequent. Autorickshaws were also available. We boarded a Kanyakumari bound bus from the Thakkalai bus stand. An alternate option is to board buses that go to Nagercoil (as they operate at much higher frequency), get down at Nagercoil, take any bus going towards Kanyakumari and get down at Suchindram which is on the way and about 20 minutes from Nagercoil. Take the road to the right of the main road (just opposite to the Suchindram bus stop), cross a row of shops and you should be able to catch the beautiful sight of the temple gopuram and the temple pond.
It is said that Indra was cursed by sage Gautama and performed penance here to get relieved of the curse. Suchindram thus refers to the place where Indra was purified (Suchi means purified and Indram refers to Indra).
The temple has a very tall door with intricate carvings done all over it. The deity is Thanumalayan in the form of a lingam and is the representation of the trinity of Hinduism – Shiva (Sthanu), Vishnu (Maal) and Brahma (Ayan). The bottom of the linga represents Brahma, the middle – Vishnu and the top – Shiva. The tall idol of Anjaneya (Hanuman) here made from a single rock is very famous and is supposed to possess great powers. The navagrahas are engraved on the ceiling near the entrance of the temple. The Alangara Mandapam is supposed to have musical pillars.
Devotees/visitors are not allowed to carry anything inside except wallets. Belongings can be deposited just outside the main door of the temple for safekeeping. Men are not allowed to wear anything on the upper part of the body.
The only bad experience we had at the temple was with the temple authorities trying to fleece people for anything and everything. They spoke Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu with ease and the only intention of doing that seemed to be to ask people to buy one thing or the other at almost every shrine. They went to the extent of blocking our way and demanding that we individually buy what was on offer before they would let us proceed. This left a very bad taste.
We walked back to the Suchindram bus stop and boarded one of the very frequent buses to Kanyakumari. A short walk from the place where we got down took us to the tip of the Indian mainland. Boat rides were available from this place to the Vivekananda rock memorial and Tiruvalluvar statue till 4 PM.
The main tourist attractions in Kanyakumari are:
1. The sunrise/sunset: A lot of people flock to the beach to view the sunrise/sunset.
2. The confluence: The Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean are supposed to meet at this place, though no one seemed to know where exactly this place was demarcated. Almost every protrusion into the seas seemed to be the tip and the place where the seas mixed.
3. Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Swami Vivekananda is supposed to have meditated here when he visited Kanyakumari. You have to take a boat to reach this place.
4. Tiruvalluvar Statue: The statue is very tall and impressive and is located off the mainland. You have to take a boat to reach the statue.
5. Mahatma Gandhi memorial (constructed in memory of the Father of the Nation)
6. Kumari Amman Temple
7. St. Xavier’s church
Vivekananda rock memorial & Thiruvalluvar statue
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
St. Xavier’s Church
PLANNING THE TRIP
If you are planning to cover Padmanabhapuram Palace, Suchindram Temple and Kanyakumari in one day, the ideal time to start from Trivandrum’s Thampanur bus stand would be at or before 7.30AM. You will reach the palace by 9:30/10AM (the palace opens at 9AM) and will need an hour there at the minimum. The Suchindram temple I think closes at 12:30PM or 1PM and reopens at 4PM. You should leave the palace ideally by 11/11:30 AM.
You must reach Kanyakumari before 4PM if you intend to visit the Vivekananda memorial and Tiruvalluvar statue as the boat rides to these tourist attractions stop at 4PM. To catch a bus back to Trivandrum, you will have to either go to the main bus depot which is about 1.5-2 kms away from the beach or go to the nearby Police check post. Locals there will guide you. There was a superfast KSRTC bus back to Trivandrum at about 6:45 or 7PM when we went, which meant that we could see the sunset and be in time to catch the bus back. The best thing to do if you miss a direct bus to Trivandrum would be to catch one to Nagercoil and then catch any one of the buses to Trivandrum from there.
You shouldn’t have a problem communicating to anybody right from Trivandrum till Kanyakumari if you can speak Tamil. Malayalam is also understood in many areas. Not many people seemed to understand/speak Hindi or English.
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