It was a long drive from Kerala to Kanyakumari which is the southernmost tip of the sub-continent and in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was the first time in India that we even noticed a crossing in to another state because our driver being from Kerala had a deep rooted hatred of anything and anyone from Tamil Nadu. He argued with everyone he met which was unnerving at first but we could see his point of view, he was stopped at numerous check points and had to produce papers and buy 'permits' just to continue on our way, there was so much more bureaucracy here than we had come across in all of India.
To break up the journey we stopped at the Padmanabhapuram Palace which dates back to the 1600s, made mostly of wood it was a maze of rooms that contained numerous artefacts. We were the only western tourists and paid the usual entrance fee of 10 times what Indian tourists are charged. We then visited an ancient Hindu temple at sunset where people prayed and made offerings to the numerous gods, to enter our shoes had to be removed and men had to be topless. We tried to avoid anyone who offered a guided tour as advised by our driver but one holy man took us in to the depths of the temple and told us ancient stories so we made our offerings and were blessed with paint to our bodies in return, it was one of our favourite experiences so far.
We arrived in to Kanyakumari at night and explored the nearby night market that sold anything a tourist could want from dried animals and bugs to hello kitty key rings.
We had arrived in to town during a local holiday so had to join a queue for 2 hours with all the other tourists in town wanting to visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue located on a pair of rocky islands. They are famous for being one of the few places you can view both an ocean sunrise and sunset and the temple is where Swami Vivekananda famously prayed before leaving for the United States in 1893. This is why Kanyakumari has become such a popular place of pilgrimage. On the second island is a large statue of Thiruvalluvar who was an ancient poet from Tamil Nadu.
While waiting and burning in the intense heat we met an Indian guy from America who was on holiday visiting family he had not seen for fifteen years, he had booked this month long trip for his 25th wedding anniversary but his wife could not make it for some reason so he came over on his own. We also witnessed only our second argument in the whole of India which is impressive given the sheer amount of people and poor driving that goes on. A group of women pushed in the queue by climbing over the railings, everyone yelled at them and there was chaos as they were pulled and pushed by other women but they just kept on smiling, apparently they are from a part of India where this behaviour would be expected. We have seen a lot of discrimination and hatred between people of different class, background or just people from different states while here in India that we had never expected to see.