Kanyakumari – Getting to the Point
India’s rail system is one of the largest in the world, carrying 8 billion passengers a year – that’s more than 13 million passengers a day! The online system is amazing too – you can buy tickets online and track the exact location of your train on a map. The trains even seem to run on time – eat your heart out, Amtrak.
Having read about how quickly sleeper tickets sell out, we were a little nervous about being able to find a train from Trichy to Kanyakumari – the town located at the very southern tip of India. Fortunately, we were able to find second class sleeper tickets quite easily (the days before and after only had waitlist tickets available – but we were fairly flexible with our dates).
The train was not as luxurious as the second class sleepers we took in Thailand – the bunk was narrower and the mattress was harder. However, fitting the Bromptons under the seat of the seat of the sleeper was super easy – much easier than the tight squeeze we had on Thai overnight trains.
After a pretty decent night’s sleep, the train pulled into Kanyakumari as the sun was rising. Kanyakumari is famous as being the point where three seas meet – the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabia Sea. The view along the beach is spectacular, but (you may be surprised to read) I could not tell that there were three separate bodies of water meeting.
Having seen a few Indian beach towns that cater primarily to foreign tourists (Mamallapuram, Kovalam, Varkala), Kanyakumari was refreshingly different. The majority of tourists are pilgrims from other parts of India who come to visit the Devi Temple.
The temple is devoted to a virgin goddess who vanquished a demon, and young women come here to pray for a good marriage. It was dark and quiet inside – lit only by candles and poulated mostly by chanting priests and quietly giggling young women. It wasn’t solemn, but it was spiritual – a place where people have been worshipping for thousands of years. (Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside.)
Outside the temple, we met a fortune-telling parrot. After using his beak to discard a number of possible fortune cards, the bird eventually carried the chosen card over to his handler. Dmitry’s fortune included predictions of a baby and prosperity. Prosperity was immediately dinged by a 150 Rupee fee ($2.40) fee for the parrot’s services. We’ll have to wait and see about the baby (hah!).