Center for art, culture, civilization, and pilgrimage
Kanyakumari was once referred
to as the Alexandria of the east. This place has been a great center for art,
culture, civilization, and pilgrimage for years. It was also a famous center
for commerce and trade. During the early part of the eighth century AD Islam
entered the southern part of India through the sea route with traders and
missionaries. Through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, Christianity
arrived in this area in AD 52. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have greatly
contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of this place.
Kanyakumari was also under the control of the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas
and the Nayaks who were great rulers of south India. The architectural beauty
of the temples is the work of these rulers.
During the British Raj,
Kanyakumari was bestowed the dry title of Cape Comorin, necessitated perhaps by
the Englishmen's inability to pronounce local names. Legend has it that Kanya
Devi, an avatar of Goddess Parvati, was to wed Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the
Hindu trinity. But he did not turn up at the auspicious time and the wedding
never took place. The rice and cereals meant for the marriage remained
uncooked. Even today, one can buy stones there that look exactly like rice and
cereals. Local folks believe that they are the leftovers of the legendary
marriage that could not be solemnized. As for the princess Kanya Devi, she
became a virgin goddess blessing pilgrims and tourists alike.