Sunday, December 28, 2008

Concert by Hyderabad Brothers

SICA Hyderabad is organizing carnatic concert by Hyderabad Brothers on 2nd January 2009 at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad. The concert starts at 6:30 PM. Tickets for non-members can be obtained at the venue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nanduri Subbarao and his 'Enki Paatalu'

The set of romantic poems 'Enti Paatalu' written by Nanduri Subbarao is well known to telugu-speaking people. Nanduri Venkata Subba Rao (1895-1957) conceptualized the idea of 'Enki Paatalu' during his student days of BA at Madras Christian College, around 1917-18. Though the writings of Gurajada Apparao in spoken language were well known to people at that time, using such language in literature was still considered unusual. He used the dialects of Godavari and Visakha areas in his poems and received mixed criticism among his peers and friends. The first edition of 'Enki Paatalu' was released in 1925. After a long gap of 27 years, the second edition was released with some new songs added. The poems left an indelible mark on the Telugu language and literature.

'Enki' and 'Naidu Bava' are the main characters of the poems. 'Enki' is a washer-woman who is in deep love with 'Naidu Bava'. The central theme of poems is the love and romance between them. Eminent writers and thinkers like Adavi Bapiraju, Sri Sri, Chalam, Devulapalli Krishna Sastry adored 'Enki Paatalu' and wrote about the songs. But the work gained real popularity due to the radio and music concerts. 'Nanduri Enki pata laga' (just like Nanduri Enki song) has become a common expression to depict something pleasant and beautiful.

You can access the songs as a pdf here. I got the recordings of about 31 songs ( 32 kbps - the audio quality is not that good) sung by none other than Sri M. Balamurali Krishna and Sri Srirangam Gopalarathnam. It is a real pleasure to listen to these songs sung by the stalwarts of the music, which inspired me to write this article.

The rest of the post contains two wonderful songs from the work. Though it is beyond my capabilities and knowledge to write about these songs, this is a humble attempt to bring these songs closer to the people of my generation who almost forgot the existence of such master pieces. The first song is 'Intenate Sandra Mentho Yanukonti' (MP3).
Intenate Sandra Mentho Yanukonti
Manku Sooridukoo Maddenundena!
Naa Neethi Naa Jaathi
Naavaare Poonada
Marigi Manasu Sa
garamaaye Nannaru Inthe...
Naa Raaje Naa Kaasi
Veru Soopulu Sooda
Kadalivale Naa Gunde
Kalathabade Nannaru Inthe...
Saththemerigina Paapa
Poththillalo Daagi
Kanneeru Munneru
Karagisthi Mannaru Inthe...
Anchudari Ledante
Emo Yanukunnanu Inthe...

Fortunately, I found a translation of this song in the book 'Hibiscus on the Lake' written by Valcheru Narayana Rao.

The ocean is so small.
It only fills the little space between us and the sun, that's all!
When my own people talked of me and my morals, my pain,
you said, was huge like the ocean. Is this all! The ocean is so small!
When my man looked at me as if I was not his woman, my heart,
you said, moaned like the ocean. Is this all! The ocean is so small!
When I held my baby, who knows the truth, I cried,
you said, an ocean of tears. Is this all! The ocean is so small!
When you said it has no end, no shore, and it holds eternal life,
I thought it was big, big like God. Is this all! The ocean is so small!

The second song is 'Enki Tho Theerthanikellali' (MP3) and is titled 'Pillodu' (The child). Click on the image for the telugu lyrics to be visible clearly.

Enkitho Theerthanikellali,
Sankalo Pillodu Sambralupaduthunte!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali,
Neththi Mootalaneththukovali!
Koththa Madathala Deesikattali!
Adavi Daarula Yenta Nadavali!
Baruvu Maarusukonta Phakkunna Navvali!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Sankalo Pillodu Sambralupaduthunte!
Thathanaati Voosu Talavali!
Daaripoduguna Keesuladali!
'Tappuneede' Yanta Deppali!
Daivamunnadaani Dhadipinchukovali!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Sankalo Pillodu Sambralupaduthunte!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Kathakaada Koosintha Nilavali!
Kathagaadu Maavoose Seppali!
Nanu Soosi Pillodu Navvali!
Maalona Maameto Mathulirusukovali!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Sankalo Pillodu Sambralupaduthunte!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Konetilo Tanamaadali!
Gudisuttu Mummaru Tiragali!
Kopaalu Taapalu Manaali!
Iddaramu Pillonni Eesudiki Soopali!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!
Sankalo Pillodu Sambralupaduthunte!
Enkitho Theerthanikellali!

Since I could not find a translation of the above song, I dared to provide a very approximate translation of the above. Please excuse me for any mistakes. I am sure this is not the best and feel free to let me know the if any changes required.

I should go to the holy place with Enki!
While the boy in my lap is rejoicing!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
We should put the luggage on our heads!
We should wear new clothes!
We should walk through the forests!
While changing the weight from one hand to another, we should laugh!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
While the boy in my lap is rejoicing!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
We should talk about the old times!
We should fight all along the way!
We should scorn at each other, 'its your fault'!
We should warn each other that the God is watching!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
While the boy in my lap is rejoicing!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
We should stop at the story teller!
The story teller should tell our story!
The boy should look at me and laugh!
We should forget ourselves and rejoice!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
While the boy in my lap is rejoicing!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
We should take a bath in the holy water!
We should walk around the temple!
We should control our anger!
We should show our boy to the God!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!
While the boy in my lap is rejoicing!
I should go to the holy place with Enki!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sri Mysore V. Ramarathnam is no more

Mysore V. Ramarathnam breathed his last on the night of November 15, 2008. He is an eminent Carnatic vocalist and composer. He performed extensively both in India and abroad, and in several AIR centers. He trained a large number of students. He composed over 25 compositions in Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada under the mudra “Rama”. He has published over 15 books dealing with theory and practical aspects of carnatic music. He was a disciple of Sangeetha Rathna Mysore T. Chowdiah and was a contemporary Mysore Vasudevachar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Chembai, Alathoor Srinivasa Iyer and Musiri Subramanya Iyer.

Some of the live concerts of Prof. Ramarathnam recorded between 1970 - 2004 are available here. His biography 'Reminiscence of a Musician' is released as part of Prof. Ramarathnam's 90th Birthday Celebration in December 2006. The PDF version of the book is available here. Some of his books are available here.

Prof. Ramarathnam's death marks the end of a Carnatic legend who left behind for us a great treasure of music and literature. His official website cites: "Prof. Ramarathnam's mortal remains will be on display at his residence at Saraswathi Puram, Mysore on Tuesday, November 18, 2008, around noon".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lessons from life

Based on the 'gyan' accumulated over a period of years, yours truly suddenly got the following insight about life. Looks like stating the obvious, but still the analogy is fitting.

"Struggle is like a lamp, that flickers due to the winds of hardships. Only hope, like a hand protecting the lamp, can keep it going."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Carnatic Vocal Concert by Maharajapuram Srinivasan

The carnatic vocal concert by Sri Maharajapuram Srinivasan on the second day of Vinjamuri Memorial Concerts at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad had the trademark of the legendary Maharajapuram music family. Sri Srinivasan was accompanied by his son Maharajapuram Ganesh Viswanathan on vocal. Voilin support was provided by Sri Parur M.A.Krishnaswamy and support on mridangam was provided by Sri Tanjore Kumar.
The concert started with varnam in kaanada. The next two were compositions by Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Malahari and Naata. After the Tyagararaja's composition 'Vinayakuni Valenu', a brief sketch of Sudhdha Dhanyasi was rendered followed by 'Narayana Ninna Namada' composition by Purandara Dasa. Annamacharya's composition 'Gummani Yedi' in Poorvi Kalyani was executed beautifully with the neravel 'Venkatapathi Yani Vedanilayudani Pankajanabhuni Padero' being the highlight. Dr. Vinjamuri's composition 'Narasimha Nannu Brovara' was rendered next in Bilahari.
The fast paced 'Raghuvamsa Sudha' in Kadanakuthoohala was rendered before the main piece of evening Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi with pallavi 'Thenpazhani Vadivelane Deivanai Manalane'. Tani avarthanam in the next composition 'Ksheenamai Tiruga' in Mukhari was perfect with Ganesh's vocals. The last part of the concert had brief compositions of Purandara Dasa, 'Neerajadala Nayana Krishna' in Mand and the tamil composition 'Vilaiyada Idhu Nerama Muruga'. The concert ended on a electrifying note with the composition 'Bho Shambho Siva Shambho Swayambho' in Revathi. It was a perfect concert for both Rasikas and casual carnatic music listeners.
Photo Courtesy:
You can find the recording of the entire concert below. You can download the entire concert in three zip files: Zip File-1, Zip File-2 and Zip File-3.
If there are any copyright issues for putting the MP3s for free download, please let me know. I will remove the access to files in that case. I am hoping that the MP3s downloaded from here are ONLY for personal use and will NOT be used for commercial purposes.

  1. Introduction (MP3-1,MP3-2,MP3-3)
  2. Nera Nammithi - Varnam (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Kanada. Talam: Ata. Composer: Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar.
  3. Pancha Maathanga Mukha (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Malahari. Talam: Rupaka. Composer: Muthuswamy Dikshithar.
  4. Swaminatha Paripalayasumam (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Naata. Talam: Adi. Composer: Muthuswamy Dikshithar.
  5. Vinayakuni Valenu (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Madhyamavathi. Talam: Adi. Composer: Tyagaraja.
  6. Narayana Ninna Namada (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Sudhdha Dhanyasi. Talam: Adi. Composer: Purandara Dasa.
  7. Raghuvira Ranadhira Rara Rajakumara (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Huseni. Talam: Rupaka. Composer: Tyagaraja.
  8. Gummani Yedi (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Poorvi Kalyani. Talam: Adi. Composer: Annamacharya
    Neraval : Venkatapathi Yani Vedanilayudani Pankajanabhuni Padero.
  9. Narasimha Nannu Brovara (MP3)
    Ragam: Bilahari. Talam: Misra Chapu. Composer: Dr. Vinjamuri.
  10. Raghuvamsa Sudha (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Kadanakuthoohala. Talam: Adi. Composer: Patnam Subramanya Iyer.
  11. RTP (MP3)
    Pallavi: Thenpazhani Vadivelane Deivanai Manalane.
  12. Ksheenamai Tiruga (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Mukhari. Talam: Adi. Composer: Tyagaraja.
    Tani Avarthanam.
  13. Neerajadala Nayana Krishna (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Mand. Talam: Adi. Composer: Mannargudi Sambasiva Bagavathar Iyer.
  14. Govinda Ninna Namave Chanda (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Janasammodhini. Talam: Adi. Composer: Purandara Dasa.
  15. Kelo Sachcharitha (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Ragamalika. Talam: Adi. Composer: Purandara Dasa.
  16. Ragi Thandira (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Kalyanavasantham. Talam: Adi. Composer: Purandara Dasa.
  17. Vilaiyada Idhu Nerama Muruga (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Shanmukhapriya. Talam: Adi. Composer: T.N. Bala.
  18. Bho Shambho Siva Shambho Swayambho (MP3, Lyrics)
    Ragam: Revathi. Talam: Adi. Composer: Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
  19. Bhavamana (Mangalam) (MP3)
    Ragam: Saurashram. Talam: Adi. Composer: Thyagaraja.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Pure Carnatic Evening by Smt. R. Vedavalli

The carnatic concert by Sangeetha Kalanidhi Smt. R. Vedavalli on 21st October 2008 at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad offered classical music in its purest form to the audience. The concert was organized by SICA, Hyderabad in the memory of Dr. Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar. Smt. Vedavalli, known for presenting the carnatic music in its pure and holy form, rendered the compositions of the trinity of carnatic music along with compositions of Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Mysore Vasudevacharya and Purandara Dasa. Smt. Charulatha Ramanujam provided support on violin and Sri K. Sivakumar on mridangam. Smt. Sumathi, Smt. Vedavalli's disciple, provided vocal support.

The concert started with the Ghanaragamalika Varnam composed by Dr. Vinjamuri, in whose honor this concert was organized by SICA, Hyderabad. The next few compositions in Rudrapriya, Vachaspathi and Marga Hindolam set the mood for a perfect evening. After the ragalapana of Panthuvarali and a short krithi of Shyama Sastri in Manji, the main highlight of the evening 'Ekamresa Nayaki' composed by Dikshitar set to raga Shanmukhapriya was rendered. The ragalapana was in great detail and the rendering of the words reflected the bhavam of the composition. The concert ended with short compositions in Suruthi, Abheri and Kaanada. Overall, it was a wonderful and memorable concert.

Photo Courtesy: Google Pages
The entire concert is recorded. You can download the full concert in the form of two zip files: file 1 and file 2. You can find the individual MP3s below.

If there are any copyright issues for putting the MP3s for free download, please let me know. I will remove the access to files in that case. I am hoping that the MP3s downloaded from here are ONLY for personal use and will NOT be used for commercial purposes.
  1. Introduction (MP3)
  2. Ghanaragamalika Varnam - Adi- Nata,Gowla,Arabhi,Sri,Varali - Dr.Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar (MP3)
  3. Gananayakam - Adi - Rudrapriya - MuthuswamiDikshitar (MP3, Lyrics)
  4. Yennadu Nee Krupa - Adi - Vachaspati - Patnam Subramanya Iyer (MP3, Lyrics)
  5. Chalamelara Saketa Rama - Adi - Marga Hindolam - Thyagaraja (MP3, Lyrics)
  6. Ninnu Nera Namminanura - Rupaka - Panthuvarali - Thyagaraja (MP3, Lyrics)
  7. Brovavamma Tamasa - Misra Chapu - Manji - Shyama Sastri (MP3, Lyrics)
  8. Ekamresa Nayaki - Adi - Shanmukhapriya - Muthuswami Dikshitar (MP3)
    Neravel : 'kAnchi nagara nivAsini'
    Thani Avarthanam
  9. Slokam - Pathiki Harathire - Adi - Suruthi - Thyagaraja (MP3, Lyrics)
  10. Gokulanilaya Krupaalaya Paalaya - Adi - Abheri - Mysore Vasudevacharya (MP3, Lyrics)
  11. Sreekantha Enagistu Daya Mado Than De - Misra Chapu - Kaanada - Purandara Dasa (MP3, Lyrics)
  12. Thillana (MP3)
  13. Bhavamana (Mangalam) - Adi - Saurashram - Thyagaraja (MP3)
The Hindu gave the following review about the concert:
South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) has been religiously holding memorial concerts of Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar, since his demise in 1999, with the assistance of the musician’s family. Most of the vocalists who are invited are senior musicians, who either know Iyengar directly or have full knowledge of the late musician’s contribution. Invariably, they include one or two compositions of this late veteran composer-vocalist, in their repertoire.

R.Vedavalli of Chennai who gave concert on the opening day of this year’s two-day memorial festival held at Ravindra Bharathi, opened with Varadaraja Iyengar’s Ghanaraga malika varnam with swarakalpana in each of the respective Ghana ragas. Vedavalli, as many would know, is a Sangeetha Kalanidhi of Madras Music Academy and is on various expert committees too. No wonder, she took time to set her aging voice in order and once she did it, the concert gained momentum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vinjamuri Memorial Concerts at Hyderabad

SICA, Hyderabad is organizing two day Vinjamuri Memorial Concerts at Hyderabad on 21s and 22nd October. On 21st October, it is carnatic vocal by Smt. R. Vedavalli and on 22nd October, carnatic vocal by Maharajapuram Srinivasan. The programs take place at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad and everyday it starts at 6:30 PM.
Vinjamuri Memorial Concerts are held every year in the honor of Dr. Vinjamuri Varadaja Iyengar (July 15, 1915 - August 16, 1991). He is a very renowned musican and composer. He has been awarded the titles Gana Kalanidhi, Gayaka Ratna, Sangeetha Jyothi, Sangeetha Ratnaakara, and Gana Vidya Visarada to mention a few. SICA, Hyderabad is organizing his memorial concerts to pay homage to him since 1992.

SICA, Hyderabad invitation gives the following excerpt about Dr. Vinjamuri:

Hailing from Guntur district in A.P. Sri Varadaraja Iyengar was a unique personality. He was a Musician, Musicologist and a composer. He belonged to the Sishyaparampara of Saint Thyagaraja.
His first Guru Sri Piratla Sankara Sastry belonged to Veena Kuppaier School, while his late Guru Sri Tiger Varadachary, belonged to Manambuchavadi Venkata Subramanya Iyer School. Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyenger imbibed the best of these traditions. He considered late Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar as another guru and in fact he was often called 'Kutti Ariyakkudi of A.P.'
Sri Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar was with AIR, Chennai and Hydeabad for a long time and was mainly instrumental in propagating Bhakthi Music over AIR.
Among the numerous awards received by him 'Ganakalanidhi' conferred on him in 1958 is the most prestigious one. He was closely associated with the South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), Hyderabad and was its Vice President for some time.
Even since his demise in 1991, SICA has been organising the '
Vinjamuri Memorial Concerts' every year as a tribute to and in memory of this great Musician, Musicologist and Composer, jointly with the Vinjamuri Trust.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Carnatic Classical Week

I am really looking forward for the week ahead. SICA, Hyderabad is organizing five day event of carnatic music. The programs take place at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad and everyday it starts at 6:30 PM. The program is:
Hoping to have lot of fun!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Trip to Kanyakumari

[Lengthy article with lot of pictures. If you just want to see the pictures, use the following links: Nagaraj Temple, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Thiruparrapu Water Falls, Mathur Hanging Bridge, Kanyakumari Temple & Beach Evening View, Sunrise at Kanyakumari, Gandhi Memorial, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Vattakottai Fort, Government Museum and Kanyakumari and Nagercoil Town.]

We started from Hyderabad to Chennai on Charminar Express on 25th June, 2008. Though it was supposed to reach chennai at 8:15 AM, due to derailment of some other train near Warangal, we were stranded in Warangal station the whole night and we finally reached Chennai Central at 4:30 PM on 26th. We just managed to run to Chennai Egmore and take our next train Kanyakumari Express that left Egmore at 5:25 PM.
We reached Nagercoil station around 7:00 AM on 27th. We reached our hotel and we started our siteseeing activity around 10:30 AM. Actually, we could have stayed at Kanyakumari (KK) itself. Nagercoil is about 20 KM from KK and about 30-40 minutes journey on bus. Frequent bus services are available from Nagercoil to KK.

Nagaraj Temple:
Entrance of the temple

We first visited the Nagaraj Temple in Nagercoil which was at a walkable distance from our hotel. In fact, the town Nagercoil derived its name from this temple. Nagar Kovil (temple of Nagaraj) became Nagercoil. The temple has lot of images and idols of snakes. The main deity is five-headed serpent God. The entrance of the temple is designed in the Chinese architecture of Buddha Vihara. The idols that you see outside the temple just after the entrance are very colorful and beautiful. There is a small pond outside the main temple that has serpent idols around it.

Entrance to the main temple
Pond outside the main temple

About the date of construction of the temple, wiki says: It is difficult indeed to ascertain the exact age of the temple. There is no authentic epigraph to aid this historian under the topic of Chronology. The Mountain Mahendragiri in the district of Kanyakumari is referred to as the abode of Nagas in the Ramayana of Valmiki. From this fact it can be presumed that the origin of Naga influence in the area goes back to legendary times.

Click here to see rest of the Nagaraj Temple Photos

On 27th, we wanted to see all the places that are in and around Nagercoil and dedicate 28th to places in KK. As you can see in the map on the side, we travelled towards north west from Nagercoil, to see Padamanabhapuram Palace, Thiruparrapu Water Falls and Mathur Hanging Bridge. We took a bus from Nagercoil to a place called Thuckalay and from there Padmanabhapuram Palace is very close.

Padmanabhapuram Palace:

Padmanabhapuram was the old capital of state of Travancore which was later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram in 1795 by Rama Varma. Before the capital was shifted, the ruling used to be done from this palace which lost its glory once the capital was shifted. It is located about 20 km from Nagercoil and 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram, at the foot of Veli Hills, which form part of Western Ghats and the river Valli flows near by. It is in fact a palace complex containing 14 palaces spread over an area of 6.5 acers.

More information about the palace from here: The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long. The palace was constructed around 1601 A.D by Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 A.D. and 1609 A.D. In the late 18th century, the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Trivandrum, and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continue to be the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art.

In the construction of the place, wood, latorite, burnt bricks, granite and lime were used widely. You find artistically carved engravings used as ceilings in many parts of the palace and is enriched by murals of 17th and 18th century. A special combination of charcoal from burnt coconutshells, lime, white part of eggs and various vegetable exacts were used for the shining black floors.

Mantrasala is the place where the king used to meet his subordinates for administration. There is a bed that was made using 64 kinds of medicinal wood. Navaratri mandap inside the palace is a big temple like hall where the king used to perform Devi puja during Durgasthami. On the southwest cornor of the palace, there is a museum where many stone inscriptions, wooden and stone sculptures, weapons of the royal family are on display.

Click here to see rest of the Padmanabhapuram Palace pictures

From the palace, we reached the Thiruparrapu water falls which was located about 10 km from the palace.

Thiruparrapu Water Falls:

This place is about 70 km from KK and 10 km from Thiruvattar. There is a small water fall near the entrace. River Kodayar makes its descent here. As we walk inside, we find an ancient Shiva temple on to our right. There is a small bridge that is constructed on that water. There is a boating facility also available. We didn't find any interesting things to see except the waterfall since the temple was closed by the time we reached. The water fall is not a very big one. The greenery around the waterfall and the view from the bridge is good.

But we were not disappointed when we saw three elephants being brought to near the water. They looked like well-trained elephants. In fact, the mahot has put one stick on one leg of an elephant which means that it is not supposed to move that leg until he comes back and takes that out. The elephant patiently stood there moving all its other legs except this one till he came back.

Click here to see rest of the Thiruparappu Water Falls pictures

From the water falls, our next destination was Mathur bridge

Mathur Hanging Bridge:

It is located about 3 km from Thiruvattar and 60 km from KK. It is built over the Pahrali River (also called Parazhiyar) and is one of the longest and highest aqueducts in South Asia. It carries water of the Pattanamkal canal for irrigation over the Pahrali river, from one hill to another, for a distance of close to one km. We can walk on the bridge and see the water trough and the surroundings. It is about 375 meters long, 35 meters high. There is a vast stretch of greenary that can be seen from the middle of the bridge on either side. We can also see the Western Ghats in the background with Pahrali river flowing.

Click here for rest of the pictures of Mathur Hanging Bridge

It was already 5:00 PM by the time we finished all these and we decided to go to KK for sunset. But unfortunately sunset can only be seen between October 15 to March 15 though sunrise can be seen round the year. We still decided to go to KK in the evening.

Kanyakumari Beach - Evening View:

We spent about 30 minutes in the KK beach. It was little crowded. The water was fierce with powerful tides. We took few snaps and left for the day.

Click here for rest of the pictures of the beach
Sunrise at Kanyakumari Beach:

On 28th morning we started very early at Nagercoil and reached KK by 5:30 AM by taking bus. The sunrise time was 6:00 AM. Not too many people were there at the beach though we expected lot of crowd. The sunrise view was spectacular and once the sun started rising within a span of 1-2 minutes the full blown bright sun embarked into the sky. The change in the colors of the horizon during the entire process was marvellous.

Click here for rest of the sunrise pictures

We then went to the Kanyakumari temple which is located very close to the sunrise point.

Kanyakumari Temple:

This temple which is situation on the seashore, is dedicated to the virgin Goddess Devi Kanyakumari. The Devi stands as a charming young girl in Her penance, with a rosary in her right hand. A sparking nose jewel sheds lustrous radiance. The image, made of blue stone, is believed to have been installed by sage Parasurama.

The story of Kanyakumari which I found in one of the local tourist guides ( Kanyakumari: A Tourist Guide, V. Meena, Hari Kumar Arts) is as follows: Kanyakumari and its surroundings are believed to be part of the land which was created by Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Folktales and mythological stories speak volumes about Kanyakumari.

Banasura, the king of demons, propitiated Brahma. When Banasura asked for a boon of immortality, Brahma expressed his inability to grant such a boon, but gave an option to choose his own manner of death. The asura wished that if at all he had to die, let his death be at the hands of a virgin. Brahma agreed. Armed with this boon, Banasura started harassing the devas and torturing the saints and rishis, causing them endless misery. Unable to bear this agony, the devas, rishis and saints appealed to Mother Earth who in turn sought the help of her consort Lord Vishnu who is the Protector of the Universe. On the Lord's command, the devas propitiated Prasakshi who alone is capable of destroying Banasura. The devas performed a yagna which was so powerful that the Goddess was much pleased. She promised to annihilate Banasura. As ordained, Parasakthi in Her reincarnation came down to earth as a virgin. It is a very common mythological fact that whichever reincarnation she took, she would do penance to rejoin Her husband Lord Shiva through marriage.

Hence Kumari did penance so that she would be married to Shiva. Shiva, pleased and happy expressed His willingness to marry her. This was made known to Kumari. Narada who undertook this task arranged a proper time for the marriage before dawn and insisted that the auspicious time should not be missed. Elobarate arrangements were made at Kumari's place to celebrate the marriage.

The Lord was staying at Suchindrum. The bridegroom's party started from there well in advance with pomp and pageantry. Meanwhile Narada was prompted by the devas to do something to stop the marriage, because once the marriage is over, Kumari could not be a virgin and Banasura could not be killed. Narada hit upon a plan, and assumed the form of a cock and waited at a place called Vazhukkamparai. When the marriage party reached there on its way to Kanyakumari, Narada crowed aloud. Shiva's party on hearing this thought that it was dawn and the auspicious hour has passed. The wedding party decided to return to Suchindrum, greatly disappointed.

As the bridegroom's party didn't turn up, the disappointed bride vowed to remain a virgin. All the items collected for the marriage turned into sand and pebbles resembling rice. The multi colored sand found abundantly on the sea shore at Kanyakumari is attributed to this incident.

Banasura heard about the beauty of Kumari and wanted to marry her. She blunty declined his proposal. The demon decided to win her by force. A fierce battle ensued and in the end the Goddess used Her Chakrayuda and slained Banasura.

We then visited Gandhi Memorial that is also located on the beach.

Gandhi Memorial Mandapam:

It is built in memorial to Mahatma Gandhiji who has visited Kanyakumari in 1925 and 1937. It is constructed at a place on the seashore where his ashes were kept on 12th February 1949. His ashes were recently immersed on his 60th death anniversary. The Mandapam is built in Orissa style of architecture and designed in such a way that on his birthday, 2nd October, the rays of the sun, through a hole on the roof, falls exactly on the place where the urn was kept. Many photographs of Gandhiji were put for display.

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We then visited Vivekananda Rock Memorial.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial:

Vivekananda Rock Memorial is erected on a rock situated some 200 meters off shore. There are ferry services available to and fro from the beach. In the year 1892, Swamy Vivekananda came down to Kanyakumari and sat in meditation on one of the twin rocks before he set out abroad as India's leading religious crusader. He swam to this rock and meditated about the past, present and future of India. Inaugurated in 1970, the memorial is an Indian architecture masterpiece. The entire memorial mandapam is similar to that of Sri Ramakrishna Temple at Belur and the entrance is designed on the style of Ajanta and Ellora cave temples.

The rock on which the memorial stands, in puranic tradition, has been known as the 'Sripaada paarai', blessed by the holy feet of the Devi. On this rock there is a small projection resembling human foot which has been revered as Sripaadam. According to legends, it was on this rock that Goddess Kanyakumari did Her penance. This special significance and sanctity attached to this rock might have prompted Swamy Vivekananda, an ardent devotee of Kali, to venture across the sea for his long meditation.

In the main hall, there is a life-size bronze statue of Swamiji. Adjoining the main hall is the dhyana mandapam where devotees can sit and meditate in a serene atmosphere. Various book stalls are also located. There is also a sunrise calender and a sun dial.

Next to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, on another tiny island the grand statue of Saint Thiruvalluvar is erected. Some construction work was going on, so we were not allowed to go near the statue. Some information about the statue from here:The statue has a height of 95 feet (29 m) and stands upon a 38 foot (11.5 m) pedestal that represents the 38 chapters of "virtue" in the Thirukkural. The statue standing on the pedestal represents "wealth" and "pleasure", signifying that wealth and love be earned and enjoyed on the foundation of solid virtue. The combined height of the statue and pedestal is 133 feet (40.5 m), denoting the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural. It has a total weight of 7000 tons.

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We again reached the Kanyakumari main land through ferry. We then travelled 6 km from there and reached Vattakottai fort.

Vattakottai Fort:

Vattakottai fort, also known as the circular fort. It was built in the 18th century as a coastal defence-fortification and barracks in the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. It was constructed under the supervision of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, an ex-Dutch naval officer of the VOC, who became commander of the Travancore army.

Today most of the fort is empty except for the cirucular wall surrounding. As we enter the fort we see a big pond of water. On two of its sides, we find small open rooms with their ceiling supported by a number of pillars. As we go walk inside, we find steps to go up on each of the diagonals. The fort offers a nice view of the sea especially as we stand at the back of the fort. We can also see the black sand beach from the fort. The view of the Western Ghats is also scenic. The greenery inside the fort is well maintained.

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We then returned to KK beach and concluded our site seeing by visiting a Government museum that is situation right on the beach.

Government Museum:

The museum had various stone sculptures and inscriptions that belonged to 9th and 10th centuries. The museum also has a gallery where different kinds of soil samples, geographical information about Kanyakumari, the coins of the Travancore kingdom, some painting of the Raja Ravi Varma were put for display.

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We then hit our way back by taking the Kanyakumari express at Nagercoil to reach Chennai on 29th. And we reached Hyderabad on 30th morning.

View of Kanyakumari and Nagercoil
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Places which we could not see but definitely worth going are: Suchindram Thanumalayan temple, Udayagiri Fort, St. Xavier's Church, Marunthuvazh Malai. Other temples and tourist places which are little far from the town are: Chitharal Jain Monuments, Peer Mohammed Dargah, Swamithope pathi, Thirunadhikkara Cave Temple, Thiruppathisaram, Thirucharanathumalai, Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple, Mondaicaud Bhagavathi Temple, Pancha pathi, Kumara coil, Sivalayams, Olakaruvi, Pechiparai Reservoir, Kalikesam, Sothavilai Beach, Vattaparai Falls, Mukkadal, Muttom.