Museums in Kanyakumari for Understanding History

The land of the ‘Triveni Sanagamam’, Kanyakumari is one of the hottest and most varied tourist destinations in the country. The rocky beaches, the scintillating atmosphere, the longest beaches and the fringed palms make this place a haven for tourists from all over the world. But as they say, ‘some are born to sweet delight’, the land of the heavenly confluence of the Arabian sea, the Bay Of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, has much more to offer than just the breath-taking views and awe inspiring scenes.

Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin as it was known during British rule, is rich in legacy and boasts of a history unknown to most parts of our country. Being a major port and activity hub since the time of kings and princes’, Kanyakumari did not lose its charm once, even when the British invaded the country. They too realized the importance of this coastline, maintained the ports and appreciated the beauty of this land. Coupled with the fact that all three major water bodies that were sources of transportation and cargo meet here, Kanyakumari never lost its importance as a major coastline. All these facts put together, it is too obvious to state that the land has seen much, and its history is as interesting as its beaches are beautiful. Despite the development and humdrum, the legacy and customs have stood the test of time and lived on to be appreciated and celebrated by Indian citizens and foreign travellers alike. The government has taken care that museums and memoirs don’t let the rich past fade away. Several private museums too display and boast about the bygone days and proud heritage of Kanyakumari, much to the pleasure of tourists who flock here. Some of the best known museums in Kanyakumari are listed below.

1. Government museum Kanyakumari

Established with the aim to preserve cultural, artistic, natural and scientific objects for the benefit of the public, this museum is well-kept and maintained by the government and functions under the Department Of Museums, Chennai. It is a guard of the cultural and natural heritage and a tourist magnet owing to its entertainment and educational activities such as talks, lectures, competitions and exhibitions that are carried out all round the year for the benefit of the general public and the tourists.

The Government Museum, Kanyakumari is located on the beach road and has a varied and rich collection of sculpted artefacts and crafts from temples of Southern India. It also has large collections of sundry objects such as old coins, whalebones, tribal objects, bronze sculptures and woodcarvings. It also puts to display a variety of specimens relating to art, archaeology, anthropology, numismatics and philately. Definitely a must visit for people who do not want to miss a chance of admiring the beauty of the past when they can.

2. The Vivekananda rock memorial

This is not a traditional museum full of literature and antiques, but speaks volumes about the heritage this land has. It is said that it was built to pay homage to the great Swami Vivekananda who swam to the rock and meditated here, and discovered his true calling as a spiritual teacher and social reformer.

The rock memorial stands on a huge boulder of rock, about 500 m from the shore and can be reached by a ferry. It has a prayer hall, a meditation hall and a memorial hall that talks about the beauty of the area and the stories of the learned man.

3. The Kumari hall of history

Situated at a little distance away from the major tourist hubs of Kanyakumari, the Kumari hall of history is a dream for all art lovers. This circular shaped museum is famous for its architectural design and is a repository of art. It is located at the southern side of the Kanyakumari Railway station and spreads its magic over six acres of beautifully landscaped area. It has several rare photographs of Gandhi’s visit to Kanyakumari on exhibition, and several photos and paintings that bring out the town’s history.

4. The Kamaraj memorial

Built in Honour of the great freedom fighter and successful political leader, Kamaraj, the ‘Kamarajar Manimadapam’ is located near the Gandhi memorial, about 2 km from the railway station as well as the bus station. Known for his political acumen and famous as the ‘King Maker’ and ‘Black Gandhi’, the memorial was raised and dedicated to appreciate the works and achievements of Late Sri. Kamarajar as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the President of the Indian National Congress.

5. The Gandhi Mandapam (Mahatma Gandhi Memorial)

Situated at a distance of 1 km from the Kanyakumari railway station and the main bus stand, the Gandhi memorial was completed in 1956 in loving memory of the Father of the Nation. This is the place where an urn containing his ashes were kept for public to pay homage before immersion into the sea. This exemplary museum is located near the ‘Kumari Amman’ temple and is one of the most picturesque museums in Kanyakumari. Its central shape is 79 feet high, a representation of Gandhi’s age at that time. The museum also exemplifies the advancement of science, as it is built in such a way that on October 2nd, the birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi, the sunrays fall exactly on the ‘peedam’ or the place where the urn containing his ashes is kept. The scene is magical and a beauty to behold.

Kanyakumari is a land of beauty intermingled with awe-inspiring history. There are several other museums such as Saikuthambi Palavar museum, the Jeevanandam Manimandapam, the Velu Thambi Dalawar Museum, etc which talk about the political, cultural and religious history of the land. For tourists who want to wander into all aspects of this blessed city, museums are the perfect place to admire and relinquish their knowledge with interesting titbits of history.