Deciding which direction to cycle through India, something was drawing me towards Kanyakumari and for some reason I felt I should go there and check it out, so after cycling about 1200km of the south west coast through Goa, karnataka, and Kerela(my favorite part of India) Kat, Bea aka the Blue Woonicorn, Dervla and I arrived in Tamil Nadu and Kanyakumari. Not a lot of people end up traveling there because it is a little bit out of the way being so far south…actually it is the most south point of India, the end of the sub-continent.
Kanyakumari is small town in the state of Tamil Nadu. One reason I was drawn there was for the sea. It is the point of meeting for 3 bodies of water… the Arabian Sea, the Sea of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean, and I felt the need to be in the water of 3 seas at once. Unfortunately some of the magic of the place was lost for me since, like most places in the country, there were no trash cans to be found so there was a lot of garbage around the town and sea shore, mostly plastic waste, and of course I even saw people throwing their plastic bottles into the sea. Also, with the hordes of Indian tourists it was hard to find a spot for some peace and quiet, although eventually we found a good spot to chill. The visitors are mostly from Kerela, who come to see the beautiful sun rise and sunsets (in April you can watch the sun set and moon rise at the same time), visit the Kumari Amman temple dedicated to Parvati the virgin goddess and wife of Shiva. Also attracting people is the Vivkananda Rock Memorial built in 1970, which is the statue of Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, who is the author of Thirukkural, a poem consisting of 133 chapters! In honor of this his statue was built 133 feet tall and is one of the largest memorials in Asia.
The town was a nice place to hang out for a day or two and the air was very refreshing compared to the humid air of most of the south west coast. the wind in Kanyakumari is always blowing strong and kept cool from the seas. This changed as soon the road headed north through the center of Tamil Nadu. The first 20-30km’s we were cycling through huge wind farms, bigger then I’ve seen in any other country, so the ride was pleasant because there was still a refreshing wind coming from over the top of the end of the Western Ghats mountain range, but soon after that the cool winds were gone and we were left cycling through a dry, dusty, hot landscape where the temperatures reached into the 40’s soon after 10am drying the sweat from your skin as soon as it comes out of your pores. One day we cycled over 100km in 43 degrees and were very lucky not to suffer from heat stroke and exhaustion.
If you are planning to hit India with your bike, I do recommend visiting the south. The food eaten with your hands off banana leaves is cheap and amazing, the long deserted beaches or crowded touristy beaches are found everywhere, and the people in the south seem to go at a bit more slower pace, in my opinion they are more laid-back, friendly, and hospitable then in other parts of India.
Now, up north in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Nepal looms overhead and the journey continues further on down the road.