Saturday, 20 August 2011

Kanyakumari district


Kanyakumari District (Tamilகன்னியாகுமரி மாவட்டம், (also spelled Kanniyakumari or Kanniakumari District)) is a district ofTamil Nadu stateIndia and is the southernmost land area of mainland India.
The district is the second most urbanised district in Tamilnadu, next only to Chennai and ahead of Coimbatore. It also has the highest literacy and education levels in the state.
Kanyakumari District is the second smallest of the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu state. The district takes its name from the tourist town ofKanyakumari, which is at the tip of the Indian Peninsula and faces the Indian Ocean. The administrative capital of the district isNagercoil, which is 20 km from Kanyakumari town. The district is also known as "The District of Ponds" or "The Lands End"
It was previously a part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore until India's Independence and later formed a part of Kerala state before it was merged with Tamilnadu under recommendations from the States' Reorganisation Commission in 1956.
The district has a varied topography with sea on three sides and lush green mountains of the Western Ghats bordering the northern side.


Kanyakumari district takes its name from the town of Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. ( In Tamil, Kanni means a virgin lady and in Sanskrit, Kumari means a spinster). Kanyakumari District is also sometimes called Kumari District in short. Kanyakumari town is named after the goddess Kanyakumari Amman, a popular deity of the area. Legend has it that the goddess Parvati in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanniya did penance on one of the rocks of this 'land's end' to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva.
The town of Kanyakumari is geographically a cape, and it was called Cape Comorin by the British. Since ancient times, Kanyakumari District has consisted of two geographical areas, known locally as Nanjilnadu and Idainadu. The etymologists interpret the word Nanjilnadu as the country ("nadu") where there were (and still has) several agriculture plantations and fields. Nanjilnadu is mentioned in old Tamil literature as a rich agrarian area, where the town of Kottar, (today, a locality in Nagercoil) as a major commercial centre. Ancient temples and inscriptions reveal a major Jain influence in ancient times. The district is home to many practitioners of various branches of ancient India's health tradition, including siddhaayurvedha, and varma kalai.
Chitral Jain carvings near Martandam
Nanjilnadu, which was formed by the present Agasteeswaram and Thovalai Taluks (administrative sub-divisions) of the district, was alternately under the rule of the Pandyas and the Cheras until the beginning of the thirteenth century. Idainadu, including Kalkulam and Vilavancode Taluks, was under the rule of Cheras. When the power of Cheras declined due to the rise of Hoysalas and western Chalukyas, the Venad (Travancore) chieftains (one of the only two part or full blood-descendants of the Cheras and the Pandyas - the other being the Mushikas) gradually established their hold on many areas of Nanjilnadu. The annexation commenced by Veera Kerala Varma was to a large extent continued by his successors and completed by 1100 A.D.
Four centuries later, the Vijayanagar kings proceeded against Venad, and in 1609, Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak ofMadurai, while the remaining parts of Nanjilnadu was under Venad. Padmanabhapuram near Nagarcoil was the capital of Venad.
Battle of Colachel took place at Colachelin Kanyakumari district. Dutch Commander, Eustachius De Lannoy surrendering to Marthanda Varma Maharaja
In 1729, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the Venad king expanded his kingdom further, after putting down the insurgency of the Ettuveettil Pillamar. The expanded kingdom came to be known as Travancore (Thiruvithamkur). Marthanda Varma defeated the forces of the Dutch East India Company under Eustachius De Lannoy in 1741 at the Battle of Colachel. In the later part of the 18th century, Chanda Sahib, a rebel commandant related to the Nawab of Arcot attacked Nagercoil and other areas. Travancore had to contend with such attacks and monetary demands from the Carnatic Nawabs or from their rebellious governors until the English fully supported the state of Travancore.[citation needed] In spite of the troubles encountered in the southern border of Venad, Marthanda Varma expanded the kingdom northwards up to Aluva. As a result, the present day Kanyakumari District came to be known as Southern Travancore. In 1745, the capital was shifted fromPadmanabhapuram (in present day Kanyakumari District) to Thiruvananthapuram.
In the princely states of Travancore and Cochin there was a sizable Tamil population. Mostly concentrated in Nagercoil, DevikulamPeerumeduand Chittur, they constituted a lingustic minority in a Malayalee-dominated area. A popular movement to merge Kanyakumari District with Tamilnadu (then Madras State) resulted in the District being merged with Tamilnadu, in accordance with the recommendations of the States' Reorganisation Commission. The new district included the four Taluks of Vilavancode, Kalkulam, Thovalai and Agasteeswaram from South Travancore, with a total area of 1684 square kilometers.


he major river in the district is Tambaraparani River locally known as Kuzhithuraiar. This river has two major tributaries with the Pechiparai Dam and Perunchani Dam respectively built across them, Kodayar and Paralayar. There are many tributaries for the Kodayar River of whichChittar River I and Chittar II, with their dams, are the major ones. The origin of Tambaraparani River is in the Western Ghats and the river confluences with Arabian sea near Thengapattanam, about 56 km. west of Kanyakumari town.
Valliar, another small river and its tributary Thoovalar, originate from the Velimalai Hills, collect the drainage from P.P. Channel and its branches, ayacuts (irrigated area under a tank) and confluence with the Arabian Sea in Kadiapattinam.
The Pazhayar River, another small river, starts at Shorlacode, a place about 18 km north-west of Nagercoil. This is mainly a drainage river, mostly collecting the drainage of Thovalai, Ananthanar and N.P. Channels.
The Pahrali River also flows through the district. The Mathur Hanging Trough, the highest and longest aqueduct in Asia, was built over it nearMathur.


The forests in Kanyakumari District are about 75 million years old. Of the total district area of 1671.3 km², government forests occupy an area of 504.86 km² which comes to about 30.2% the total geographical area of the district. The forests of the district are administered through the Kanyakumari Forest Division, with headquarters at Nagercoil, the capital of Kanyakumari District.
There are 14 types of forests from luxuriant tropical wet evergreen to tropical thorn forests. This variety occurs in the district because of diverse locality factors.[19] Rainfall varies from 103 cm to 310 cm elevation from sea level to 1829 m. The forest area is 30.2% of the total district geographical area which is next to Nilgiris district with 59% and Dharmapuri District with 38% in Tamil Nadu State. 52% of the district's forests are classified as dense forests, which is second only to Dharmapuri District with 58%.
The forests contain species such as Mesua ferreaBischofia JavanicaVitex altissima to smaller trees of Dillini a species festooning climber, shrubs, valuable herbs, variety of orchids, two types of canes, many indigenous palms and cycas. The important timbers are teak, rosewood, vengai and aini. Various types of forest products like bamboos, reeds, canes, soft wood, tamarind, lemon grass, rubber, coconut, arecanut,terminalia chebulacinnamon bark nelli, cardamom, mango and many medicinal plants are harvested in this district. The Maruthuvalmalai, a hill located among green paddy fields and coconut palms, is famous for valuable medicinal plants. This is the only district in Tamil Nadu where rubber and clove plantations have been raised in reserve forests in an area of 47.857 km² and 1.1 km² respectively. The district is rich in wildlife with at least 25 types of mammals, about 60 species of birds including 14 species of migratory birds and many species of fishes, reptiles and amphibians listed.
The following are the reserve forests in Kanyakumari Forest Division:
  1. Therkumalai East and West - 17.4 km²
  2. Thadagaimalai - 7.9 km²
  3. Poigaimalai - 12.4 km²
  4. Mahendragiri - 43.6 km²
  5. Veerapuli - 281.9 km²
  6. Velimalai - 11.2 km²
  7. Old Kulasekaram - 6.9 km²
  8. Kilamalai - 81.06 km²
  9. Asambu - 43.10 km²



The flora and fauna of Kanyakumari District are vast and diverse.
A Bengal tiger in theKanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary
Animals on the hills of the district include Bengal TigerElephantSambar DeerPorcupinesHedgehogs and wild boar, while pied kingfisherPainted Stork and cranes are commonly found in the water bodies and wetlands. Reptiles include Monitor LizardsPythons,Blood Viper and other snakes.
In Mahendragiri hills (about 4,000 ft (1,200 m) above sea level), one can find ElephantTigerLeopards and deer. Leopard cubs often stray onto the highway near the hills and are sometimes run over by motorists.
The Keeriparai and Maramalai hills are habitats for wild Elephants and Indian Bison. The Kodayar hills are the breeding centers for the Indian rock pythons and Indian Bison. In the Theroor wetlands, one can see several varieties of storks and migratory birds during specific seasons. Trout and other varieties of freshwater fish are found in the Pechiparai reservoir.
The district also has a wildlife sanctuary and a bird sanctuary[20]


Kanyakumari district is noted for its medicinal plants and herbs. The district also has a huge forest cover, accommodating a wide variety of plants, trees, and shrubs.[citation needed]
Commercial varieties include various kinds of Plantain (like NenthiramPalayamkotanThuluvamMatti), jackfruit (like Varikila and Koolan), mango(varieties like AlphonsaBangaloraNeelam and Ottu) and coconut. In addition to fruits, a variety of flowers like roses and jasmine are also produced. Common garden varieties in the district include crotons, lillies, and dahlias.[citation needed]
Areas like Keeriparai are home to varieties of ferns, bamboos and other tropical plants. Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma), a tree with reddish and orange leaves and flowers, is found in the Pechiparai Reservoir. Rubber estates are found in the hilly areas surrounding Arumanai, Kaliyal, and Kadayal.[citation needed]
Maruthuvazhmalai (or medicinal) Hill, near Kanyakumari.

[edit]Medicinal plants

The hills and mountains of the area contain herbs of medicinal value and minerals. Marunthuvazhmalai or Maruthuvamalai, a hill in the district located near Kanyakumari, literally means medicinal hill, and is referred to by Therapeutics (Buddhist monks) who belonged to the period of Emperor Ashoka, as having medical and spiritual heritage. According to traditional beliefs, the hill was a piece of the mountain Gandha Madhana which dropped, while the mountain was being carried by Hanuman to Lanka during the epic war between Rama and Ravana. Today, rare medicinal herbs are available here in abundance.[citation needed]
The sage Agasthiya was also the foremost of the Siddhars (the practitioners of herbal medicines). This sage is believed[who?] to have lived in "the land’s end" and there is also a village by the name of Agasteeswaram near Maruthuvamalai which owes its name to the dwarf sage. Besides medicine and grammar, Agasthiya was also adept in Varma Sastra. General palm leaf records like Varmani and Varma Sastra were written by Agasthiya.


The district attracts tourists all year round.
  • Kanyakumari, the Land's end, and the confluence of three water bodies, is 20 km to the south of Nagercoil, with tourist attractions of its own which include the Vivekanda Rock Memorial, 133 ft (41 m) high statue of Tamil poet-saint Tiruvalluvar - both on the mid-sea on rocky islands; the place is also famous for its distinctly beautiful (reddish) sunrise and sunset.
  • The Kanyakumari wildlife sanctuary is a hot spot in the country.The sanctuary is a important breeding ground for Tiger, Elephant, Leapord and 39 other mammals.
  • Vattakottai Fort, or Circular Fort, is a fort near Kanyakumari, right on the sea-shore, built under the orders of De Lannoy during the reign ofMarthanda varma (1729-58 AD). The view from the top of the fort, of the sea and the palm-fringed beach below is fantastic.
  • Suchindrum (Thanumalayan) Temple, about 6 km from the heart of town and Nagaraja Temple (in the town), are some tourist attractions within the town.
  • Thiruvattar Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple : (30 km from Nagercoil) An ancient Vishnu temple (one of 108 Divya Desams and older than the Trivandrum Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple about 50 km away) with lots of inscriptions in Tamil & Sanskrit in the outer Prakarams, sculptured Mandapam on a single-stone, unique Sun-rays falling on Adi Kesavan in Bhujana Sayanam posture statue (32-feet long) in the Sanctum for a week in the Tamil months of Purattasi & Panguni, etc. are stunning attractions.
  • Padmanabhapuram Palace, (22 km from Nagercoil), once the seat of the Travancore kings, is India's only palace made completely of wood (sixteenth century).
  • Thiruvithamcode Arappally or Amalagiri church or Thomaiyar Kovil, dedicated to Holy Mother Mary, built in 57 CE at Thiruvithancode by St. Thomas is one of the oldest existing Christian Church structures in the world and is now an International St. Thomas` pilgrim center.
  • St.Francis Xavier’s Cathedral Church, Kottar (in Nagercoil town), built in the year 1600 CE, is one of the oldest churches in Kanyakumari district. It also has historic importance due to the visit of St.Francis Xavier and the tomb of Martyr Devasahayam Pillai inside it. This Roman Catholic church was built upon the land allotted to St. Xavier by the Venad king, Unni Kerala Varma.
  • Swamithoppe Ayya Vaikundar Pathi, about 11 km from Kanyakumari, which is the religious headquarters of Ayyavazhi, is well known for its non-idolatry system of worship.
  • Thirunandikkara temple (about 20 km), rock-cut cave temple of Pallava art can be traced back to seventh and eighth century AD.
  • Udayagiri Fort, built by the Travancore kings, is a fort previously used for training the Travancore forces and also served as Barracks. Travancore Army Chief & European Dutch Admiral, Benedictus Eustachius De Lannoy(1716–1771)'s tomb is situated within this fort. The fort (about 90 acres (360,000 m2) land almost full of vegetation now, with several plants, reptiles, etc.) is presently declared as a bio-diversity park and maintained by the Kanyakumari forest department.
  • Mathur Hanging Trough, near Thiruvattar in the District, is an aqueduct that carries irrigation water through a canal between two hills. The canal itself goes above a small river. Built on very high pillars, it is said to be one of the biggest aqueducts, both in height and length, in Asia.
  • Olakaruvi waterfalls, about 20 km from Nagercoil is on the middle of a hill and requires an hour's trek by foot from the base of the hill (better to go in a group, as it is a forested area).
  • Pechiparai Reservoir, about 30 km from the town, in the hills, and also Perunchaani and Chittar dams are a must-see for the nature-lover (with clouds touching the top of the hills around the dams on a misty day).
  • Mukkadal, about 10 km from the town, built across vambaru in 1645. Which provides water supply for Nagercoil, Suchindram and Kanyakumari Towns.
  • Thiruparrapu Falls, is a waterfall near Thiruparrapu.5 km from Thiruparrapu is Thirunanthikarai where historical cave temple is situated
  • Muttom, a coastal village, is another popular place with tourists. The terrain in this village and its surroundings is hilly and from a height one can have an idyllic view of the place, with a Portuguese style church standing in the middle of the village. The beach-area is somewhat rocky. There is also a 100-year old lighthouse. The lighthouse, though near the sea, is situated on a land mass some 105 feet (32 m) above sea level. Another attractive feature of this area, is a reddish ravine-like area with casurina trees near the seaside. This place with very popular with Tamil and Keralite film-makers, especially Tamil film director Bharathiraja.
  • Sanguthurai Beach, about 8 km from Nagercoil is a palm-fringed and sandy beach. Sothavilai Beach is another good beach, about 7 km from the heart of town. Both beaches were hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, but authorities have taken steps to improve facilities again. There is a very good lagoon (estuary - place where the river meets the sea) at Manakudy - 10 km from the town.
  • Panchappathis, the five holyplaces of Ayyavazhi, all situated within 10 km radius from Kanyakumari
  • Mukkudal reservoir : Fresh water supply to Nagercoil is from the Mukkadal Reservoir, about 8 km from the town, in the interior - itself a very scenic place, with a small bushy island in the middle of the dam. The dam is surrounded by hills of the Western Ghats.
  • Mandaikadu Bhagwathi Amman temple: Known as ′Sabarimala for Women′,the Bhagwathiamman deity here is in the form of an anthill about 15 feet high having 5 heads with a legend linked to it. It was built in simple Kerala style with assistance from Marthanda Varma.


Based on a 50 year study, it is found that during the North-East monsoon, between October and December, a precipitation of 549 mm is received in 24 rainy days and during the South-West Monsoon 537 mm is received from June to September in 27 rainy days. In summer, 332 mm of rainfall is received in 11 rainy days between March and May. The annual average rainfall in the district is 1465 mm with a maximum of around 247 mm in October and a minimum of 21 mm in February. Relative humidity ranges between 60 to 100%

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