Kanyakumari. Kasi in the north of India and Kanyakumari in the south are the two most holy places in our country.

Kasi in the north of India and Kanyakumari in the south are the two most holy places in our country. Have you seen a map of India? The southern part is shaped like a mango. Can you see the southernmost tip in the map? That is Kanyakumari. It is a very beautiful place. There is a long and colourful beach. Standing there you can see the sun set and the moon rise at the same time on a full—moon day. It is a rare sight. On the beach, facing the sea stands the famous temple of Goddess. Kanyakumari or Bhagavati as she is also called.

Its outer walls are painted with red and white stripes. The word Kanyakumari means a girl who is not married. There was once an Asura called Bana. He troubled the gods a lot. So they complained to God Siva. Siva created a young and lovely girl-god to fight him. Bana wanted to marry that girl. The goddess refused. A long-drawn-out fight started between them. In the end the young goddess slew him.
This young goddess did tapas afterwards at this lovely spot to marry Siva. Siva was pleased with her tapas. He agreed to marry her. He came to the nearby village called Suchindram, but he stopped there.
The goddess had made all preparations for the marriage. The time of the marriage too had arrived. Everything was ready. Yet the bridegroom did not appear. The goddess became angry. She cursed the food and other preparations which later turned into sand.
She herself became a statue! That is why the long beach at Kanyakumari is full of coloured sand. A temple was built around the goddess. This place became holy. Many rishis did tapas here. It has been a famous pilgrim centre for thousands of years. The goddess has very costly and precious ornaments.
Her diamond nose-screw is so brilliant that ships sailing miles away can see it shining like a lamp. To prevent ships from being misled, they keep the eastern gate of the temple always closed. Only on five days of the year is it opened.
There is now a new building on the beach. It is the Gandhi Mandap. You will love to see it. There is also the new temple of Vivekananda. It is built on a rock surrounded by the sea, not far from the shore. When you go south, you must visit this place.
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