Kanyashram Shakthi Peeth is the place where the back of Devi Sati fell. Here Devi Sati is worshipped as Sharwani or Narayani and Lord Shiva as Nimish. Kanyashram is also known as Kalikashram or Kanyakumari Shakthi Peeth.
Kanyashram Shakthi Peeth is located in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. The Kanya Kumari Shakthi Peeth is surrounded by sea on all sides. There are several sacred theerth ghats around the temple namely Savitri, Gayatri, Sarawathy, Kanya, Sthanu, Mathru and Pithru. Kanyakumari (also known as Cape Comorin) is located at the meeting point of three oceans viz., Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal. The temple is well connected by all the three means of transport. Several deluxe buses ply to Kanyakumari. Kanyakumari is directly well connected by trains from most metropolitan cities of India. Thiruvananthpuram International Airport is the nearest airport (90 kms) to Kanyakumari and 70 kms from Nagercoil. Kanyakumari is famous for the most enchanting view of sunrise and sunset.
The goddess is known as “Bhagvathy”. Devi in the temple is also known as “Kanya Devi, Devi Kumari and Bhadrakali, The deity is in a standing position in the sanctum as a young girl (virgin goddess) with a rosary in her right hand. The idol made of blue stone is installed by Parashurama. Kanyakumari’s small footprints can be seen at Pada Parai shrine. Bhadrakali (a friend of Devi Kanyakumari) temple is located opposite to the main temple. The goddess Kanyakumari is adorned with jewels, silks etc. Beautiful lamps hung on either side of the deity add to the aura of the goddess. The sparkling diamond & rubies nose ring of the deity can be seen even at a distance from the sea.
The temple is a rectangular walled structure standing on the edge of the ocean. The original temple (about 3000 years old) was destroyed by the constant erosion of waves and winds. A small pyramidal gopuram rises over the main temple leading to the sanctum of the Kanyakumari. The deity is facing the east. Entrance to the temple is from the northern gate, while the eastern gate remains closed throughout the year, except on certain occasions when the deity is taken out during festivals for ceremonial bath. Another reason for the eastern entrance to be closed is that several ships got wrecked mistaking the brilliance of the nose ring for light from the Lighthouse.
The temple is maintained by a certain “Kadamba” sect. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva which is known for musical pillars. There is also an idol of Lord Hanuman.
According to one reference, Banasura, the king of demons got a boon from Lord Shiva that he could be killed only by a virgin. The Devas were unable to bear the harassment of the demon, Banasura. Devi Parvati was invoked to conquer and kill the demons. Devi came as a virgin and did penance on the shores. Lord Shiva of Suchindrum had to marry Kanya Devi, an incarnation of Devi Parvati at an auspicious hour before dawn. Narada realising that the demon Banasura would not be conquered if Devi married Lord Shiva, falsely heralded break of dawn by assuming the form of a cock and crowed falsely, even as the marriage party was on its way to Kanyakumari. The wedding did not happen as the wedding party thought that the auspicious hour for the marriage was past and so Lord Shiva returned to Suchidrum disappointed. The Devi returned to her penance to win over Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, the demon Banasura heard about beauty of Devi and expressed his desire to marry Her. When Devi rejected the demon’s offer of marriage, he tried to win Her over by force. A fierce battle ensued between the demon and the Devi, and, the demon was killed by the goddess. The Devas were relieved that the demon was killed.
According to another reference, Lord Shiva who had to marry Kanya Devi, an incarnation of Parvati, did not turn up at the appointed hour. Thus the rice and other grains meant to be used during the marriage ceremony remained unused. The uncooked rice and grains turned into stones with the passage of time. The sand granules or the small stones found on the shore resemble the grains and rice never used during wedding.
According to another reference, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth at Kanyakumari while he was on his way to Lanka from Himalayas carrying the life saving mountain -Sanjeevini Parvath to heal Lakhsman during the Lord Ram- Ravan battle. This piece of earth is called as Marunthuvazh Malai, meaning “hills where medicine lives”. Marunthuvazh Malai is located near Kottaram, 7 kms from Kanyakumari on the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil highway.
Another reference is that Sage Agasthya is said to have lived here. Sage Agasthya was an expert in native medicine. There is a small village named as Agastheeswaram named after the sage. People believe that medicinal herbs are found in abundance at this place since sage Agasthya lived here.
According to Skanda Purana, Shiv Purana and Markandaya Purana, Devi Sati undertook a rigorous penance to get reunited with Lord Shiva.
Other Places of Tourist Interest
a) Gandhi Mandapam: This is place where Gandhi’s ashes were kept for public viewing before immersion.
b) Suchindram Temple – about 12 kms from Kanyakumari dedicated to Lord Shiva.
c) Ganesh Temple: This temple is located at the entrance of KanyaKumari temple.
d) Pushkarani or Manduk Tirtha Sthal: This is a small pond located on the sea shore containing sweet water.
e) Vivekananda Rock Memorial: The memorial built in 1970 by Eknath Ranade. Swamy Vivekananda visited KanyaKumari and meditated for three days. Vivekananda Rock Memorial also has the tallest statue of Tamil Saint poet Thiruvalluvar which is 41 meters (133 feet) in height
f) Sage Agasthya Ashram: A small ashram is located on the middle of Marunthuvaz hill.
Devotees take a dip in the bathing ghat where the three seas meet. There are about 25 Theerthams on the shores. The rites and rituals are done according to the Kerala Namboothiri method.
Fairs and Festivals
Navaratri is celebrated for nine days during Ashwija Masa (Sep- Oct). Special poojas and yagnas are conducted during Durga Pooja and Vijayadashmi.
Car festival, Kala bham festival is held during in the month of Aadi (mid July- mid August).