A load of sounds, some which are familiar some not so familiar come to your senses as you step into Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu. One would come across a tropical breeze making its way through the coconut leaves and the air is filled with the chimes of temple bells. As one walks through the local markets, the chimes of the temple bells are overtaken by the hue and cry of bargaining along with the laughter of children and the hurriedness of a woman's anklets.
The place is mixture of sights and scents with the strong aroma of filter coffee and jasmine along with small shrines by the roadsides which adds on to the colour under the shining sun. Nagercoil sits at the tip of the Indian peninsula and is bordered by the Western Ghats which creates the first impression of the place.
Nagercoil has a colourful history and was ruled by the Cheras, Cholas and the Pandyas. Nagercoil in translation means the temple of the nagas, which is derived from the ancient Nagaraja Temple here. The place is wrapped in the greenery of the areca nut and rubber plantations and is also the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari district.
1. Nagaraja Temple
The ancient temple is the abode of Vasuki and Krishna, which is situated at the base of the Mahendragiri mountain, which is believed to the home of the Nagas as per Ramayana. As per traditions the priests are Namboothiri Brahmins who are suggested by the famed Pambummekkattu Mana in Kerala. Devotees come here in large numbers and offer milk and turmeric to Nagaraja for their prayers to be answered.
PC: Natesh Ramasamy
2. St Xavier's Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Latin Rite shrine dates back to 1600 and is situated at the Kottar bazaar. According to legends, St Xavier is said to have arrived in Kottar and prevented an invasion of the Padagas by using only his cross and protected the residents of the entire Venad kingdom. As a gesture of goodwill, Unni Kerala Varma, the then king, allotted him land for the construction of a church; since the year 1544 AD the church stands tall patronising Mary.
3. CSI Home Church
The Home Church is one of the oldest and largest churches to be built in Asia. The Protestant church's construction began in the year 1819, following the Greek style of architecture during the colonial period. The church was constructed with the help of the temple elephants of the Nagaraja Temple and the prisoners as it was built using huge blocks of stones which give it the name of Kalkoyil or stone church.
4. Thanumalayan Temple
Also known as Sthanumalayan Temple, the Thanumalayan Temple is located in Suchindram which is around 6 km away from Nagercoil. The shrine is one of its kind as the temple is known for the worship of the Trinity-Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The name of the shrine when broken down denotes the following: Sthanu means Shiva, Mala means Vishnu and Yan stands for Brahma.
The current structure was built in the 17th century and is well known for its sculptures. One can find four musical pillars which are carved out in a single stone which stands tall at 18 ft and highlights the architectural workmanship of the artisans.
PC: Ssriram mt
Nagercoil has a pantheon of beaches which attract a large number of visitors. Muttom, Sanguthurai, Sothavilai, Thekkuruchi and Thengapattinam are some of the most popular ones although there are many more which are waiting to be explored by the visitors. The Muttom Beach is known for its rocks which jut out into the sea.
How To Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is the Trivandrum Airport which is located at a distance of 73 km from here. The airport receives flights from major cities across the country, such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, etc., and to a few international destinations as well.
By Train: Nagercoil Junction is the major railway station here which is well connected to all the major towns and cities across the country.
By Road: Nagercoil is well connected by roads and has a large number of buses which operate from Trivandrum, Kanyakumari and other major towns and cities.