New Year in Kanyakumari

TO THE POINT

I adored Kovalam, but the time had come to move down south as planned. I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve at Sunset Point in Kanyakumari. It sounded romantic and was at the furthest most southern tip of India – what more could a girl want? We hired a cab to drive us all the way down to Tamil Nadu in comfort – I found this to be one of the best and cost effective ways to travel in India if you are doing a 1 – 2 hour journey with luggage on an awkward route.

One thing to note is that when you travel from Kerala to Tamil Nadu by car, you are expected to pay an inter-state entry tax. My experience of cab drivers in Southern India was all good and one to be recommended.

BLESS THEM ALL

I had booked into a B & B (reasonably priced) but I had no idea what it would be like. Once the cab driver found the Stella Maris, it turned out to be part of a Convent! We were greeted by the two wardens from Ireland, Carol and Ninian, who were voluntarily looking after the B & B side of the Convent of the Daughters of Mary, and made to feel very welcome and were very informative.

This Convent had a wonderful feel to it and was “work in progress” of their mission. We were unfortunate in that our room was out of order so we were offered a less-desirable room in the staff quarters at a much reduced rate. This way we got to know our hosts a lot better and the nuns working their.

We set out to explore this intriguing town and found it to be very safe and friendly – we were almost the only westerners there at the time. The town appears a bit dirty at first, but in essence it certainly grew on me over the next few days and I ended up loving it so much I want to go back. A visit to the Vivekenanda Rock must not be missed. It’s not expensive and you get to meet lovely Indian people whilst waiting to board the 5 minute ferry – there is a quick(ish) tourist line to queue in or a “local” line.

Take note that at New Year accommodation gets all booked up in Kanyakumari as so many Indian people travel there to celebrate Vivekenanda’s enlightenment at that time of year, so we had to move our base during our stay. This took us closer to town where all the action is. Not really. If you want an alcoholic drink, beware there are very few places to get one – a seedy-looking downstairs bar for “men only”, another dark, downstairs bar where you can meet others but feel anxious at the surroundings, or the Hotel Sparsa overlooking the Indian Ocean, attentive and clean. We spent a pleasant New Year’s Eve here. I loved it when the waiters produced a new table and set it up for us because all the other tables were taken – so Indian!

IN THE PICTURE!

Something strange started to happen – local people wanted to take our photo with them. We even had a mini bus full of young men stop, jump out, and ask for a photo! It really is all very innocent and when I was able to ask someone about it, they said they liked to show the photos to their family to say they have met and become friends with westerners! Each to their own, I say, so don’t be phased by it if they same happens to you – be honoured.

One of the cleanest restaurants in Kanyakumari is the vegetarian Hotel Saravanna – a large restaurant serving traditional Southern and Northern Indian food like Thali. We wanted to take a half day tour of the local temples, so we found a local tour operator and this was one of the highlights of our trip. This took us to the Circular Fort, Shri Sai Baba Temple, Thanumalayan Suchindram  (one of the oldest Hindu temple in Southern India) and others and there are many many of them! And the tour ended at Sunset Point in perfect timing to see the sun go down. The driver did have to put his foot down to race the sun going down to get to the Point in time!

One of many amazing temples

What I find when travelling is that you do have to plan a certain amount of activity and how you are going to get there so as to get the most out of a visit. Also you need to be flexible and open to any adventure may come your way and go with the flow. Life is one big adventure but we do need to make it happen.

Have you a story to tell about Kanyakumari? It’s a very special place especially if you like to travel to unusual spots and mix with the locals. It’s not one that particularly gets put on the westerners’ map of travel but well worth the trip down there.

Next stop – Madurai where synchronicity really kicks in …………………