‘Two Girls &’ is a series dedicated to inspire women to travel independently, in India and abroad. The feature presents the travelogues of different groups of two, kick-ass women who are conquering the world together, one trip at a time
If you have followed the ‘Two Girls’ series, you have met Sulagna Ghosh before – from the time she went on her BFF’s Trip to Lonavala.
This time, Sulagna set off on her ‘Two Girls’ adventure with her mom, Purabi Ghosh, who is much younger at heart than her years would suggest.
People often cite Switzerland, Paris or more recently, Christ Church as their dream destination. But for Purabi, her humble desire had been to have the pleasure of visiting the southern tip of the Indian mainland, Kanyakumari. Despite her relative proximity to this destination (from Kolkata), a trip to Kanyakumari seemed like a challenge, given that her health presented a few obstacles. Purabi had had a terrible accident a year and a half back that left her with screws in her leg. Also, Sulagna’s dad was not really confident about their traveling alone, given the circumstances. But Sulagna was determined to provide this life-altering, liberating experience to her mother. The opportunity also seemed perfect, given that both her father and her husband were in different cities due to work engagements, at that time. The plan was chalked out for a Kolkata-Bangalore-Trivandrum-Kanyakumari trip.
What preparations were completed before the trip?
Sulagna had told her mom only about the week at Bangalore. The detour to Kanyakumari was kept as a surprise.
She researched for a hotel located conveniently to enable maximum reach to all tourist attractions in the city and preferably with a view of the Rock from the room – Hotel Seaview came up.
Sulagna pre-booked the corner, deluxe room (can only be done online) for ₹3250 per night and voila, all her requirements were met. She also booked return flights to Trivandrum from Bangalore. The hotel arranged the entire land commute of the trip for an additional ₹6500 for the three days. This was a very competitive price offered by the hotel, given that Savaari.com asked for ₹11000 for the same offering. And she was all set!
Let’s talk about the destination: Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari is famous, not only for its geographic significance as the tip of India, but also for the historic value of the town. Its trading connections with the larger world goes back to the times of the Roman Empire.
It was a center of importance for the Cheras, Cholas and eventually the British regime in India. It has also been a center of art and religion for centuries.
The architectural brilliance of the various temples in and around the town is much revered. The place gets its name from one of these beauties, the Devi Kanyakumari Temple, dedicated to the sister of Lord Krishna. The town was also the final stop for Swami Vivekananda’s India tour on foot, and herein, atop the famed Vivekananda Rock, he spent many hours meditating. This serene spot now hosts an Ashram that is the key attraction of Kanyakumari.
Backing up a bit: Kerala Backwaters
Purabi and Sulagna set off for Trivandrum on an early morning flight from Bangalore. Their extremely helpful chauffeur, Mr. Subramanyam, picked them up from the airport that afternoon. Sulagna said, “We were extremely lucky to have him. He helped us design our itinerary, keeping mom’s condition in mind. He was an asset”
It was Mr. Subramanyam’s suggestion to take a pit stop at Poovar for a serene afternoon on Kerala’s backwaters. They took a private boat that cost them ₹3000.
“The still of the dark water, the refreshing greens of the foliage that crowded around, the colorful boats and the innocent fishermen – it was surreal!”, said Purabi.
The content mother-daughter duo headed over to their Kanyakumari hotel to crash for the night.
While the hotel did not create an out-of-the-world first impression, they had two things going for them. Firstly, the room was beautiful, spacious, had a balcony and a panoramic view of the sea, the Vivekananda Rock and the imposing statue of the poet, Thiruvallur. If the view was awesome in day light, it was breathtaking at night with the lights switched on. Secondly, the food at the hotel was very tasty, in sharp contrast to Sulagna’s past experience with food at Kanyakumari during her prior visit in 2012. They were served excellent south indian breakfast, and to their surprise mouth-watering North Indian delicacies for lunch and dinner!
A Packed Morning: To the Vivekananda Rock and more
The weather at Kanyakumari was very pleasing – it was cloudy, without the rain or the heat. The girls reached the ferry point to the Rock early and found very little crowd. They took the general ticket to the island (there is an option of a premium ticket with lesser wait time, in case of congestion).
They spent two hours roaming the Ashram, especially enthralled by the divine vibe in the meditation room.
Their next ferry to the Thiruvallur statue got canceled due to a turbulent sea. So they hopped over to the Kanyakumari temple instead. The girls enjoyed the fantastic tales that the locals attach to the deity and her prowess. Next, they visited the Triveni Sangam – a fascinating geographical wonder where two seas and one ocean meet visibly in three varied hues. The Gandhi Mandapam was interesting, especially because the locals seem to believe that on every 2nd October, the sunlight falls directly on the spot where the Mahatma’s ashes are kept. Either that’s a fantasy or an architectural wonder – the girls really wanted to come back at that time some year to find out.
The Unexpected Evening: The Vattakottai Fort
After a quick stopover at the hotel for lunch and refreshment, the girls headed out to the Vattakottai Fort – a recommendation of Mr. Subramanium and a deviation from the itinerary. This fort was built for coastal defense fortification and part of it extends out into the sea. This gives a sweeping view of the ocean from a height, a stunning view of the Ghats along with hundreds of wind mills around thousands of coconut trees. Although Purabi couldn’t walk up the huge stone stairs, Mr. Subramaniam accompanied Sulagna to the top. This was the unexpected high-point of the trip, pun intended.
The cohort then spent a quiet evening at Our Lady of Ransom Church, a quiet and imposing milk-white building that was an embodiment of serenity. The Sunset Point seemed to be an apt conclusion, but proved to be slightly more crowded than they had hoped for. Also, the girls were caught off guard as the place became uncannily windy and cold as the evening drew nearer. They ducked for cover at the Wonderwax Museum – a slightly hilarious imitation of the Tussauds. While none of the figures looked anything like their living counterparts, the entertainment value of the place cannot be overstated.
Glory to the Sun
The glass bedroom with a view of the eastern ocean presented itself in all its glory the next morning. The Sunrise, right from the comfort of their bed, was the best the two women had ever experienced.
A palette of colors, never seen before, spread across the sky as the Sun rose from the shimmering horizon. It seemed like a perfect ovation to their gutsy trip.
On their way back to the Trivandrum airport, they stopped at the gorgeous Padmanabhapuram Palace. It took them a couple of hours to cover the place and the girls wished they had opted for the foot covers on rent to guard against the scorching floors and pebbles strewn about.
The Low Downs
The girls had left a little late for their return to the airport and hence had to miss out on the Suchindram Temple. But, barring that minor miss, there was nothing about the trip that the girls would do any other way.
Will they do it again?
The trip has given immense confidence to Purabi to travel more. They would venture out again, if health and opportunity favor such a plan.
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