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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Kanyakumari?

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With myths and lores surrounding the town on the tip of the country Kanyakumari’s history is as fascinating as the many sightseeing spots it offers to a traveller. From the legend that links the goddess Kanyakumari to Shiva and her decision to remain unmarried for her love of Shiva to the enlightenment that Swami Vivekananda received at this place or the supposed footprint on the rock of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, again mystified by its resemblance- all this and more makes this otherwise quiet town bustle with divinity.

The recorded history of this town dates back as far as the era of Plotemy and mentions it in his geographical accounts, relating to the trade conducted between Alexandria with various town of the country. Kanyakumari consisted of various areas, locally known as Nanjilnadu and Idai Nadu, of which Nanjilnadu was under the rule of Pandyas till the early 10th century and then under Cheras. By 1115 A.D., the same area was under the rule of the Venad, now known as Travancore, chieftain, after taking years to annexe it. By this time, the whole region came under the Venad rule. The social and economic condition of the town was shaped by a large extent by the influence of the Travancore dynasty and still can be seen in the number of people who speak Malayalam ( the main language of Kerala ) and further in the culture of the place that still depicts the Travancore legacy.

In 1609, Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai, while the other parts of Nanjilnadu was ruled by Venad. With Padmanabhapuram near Nagercoil as its capital the Venad expanded their rule and named their land as Travancore. As a consequence of this, Kanyakumari came to be referred as Southern Travancore. By the time of India’s independence, the royal rule of Travancore was passed on to the Indian Union and in 1949, it became a part of the new Travancore- Cochin state. Though it was under the rule of Travancore, majority of the Kanyakumari population were Tamil-speakers, which led to an agitation to merge with Tamil Nadu instead. This was finally realised in 1956. The present town of Kanyakumari is an amalgamation of all these influences including the British and other European countries also, making it a hub of cultures, the melting-pot of all the myths and heritages left behind by the major dynasties of South India.

With the best things to do in Kanyakumari, you'll come closer to the history and culture of the coastal city.

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