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Sunrise at Cape Comorin
(Sunrise at Kanya Kumari)

The sky over the Bay of Bengal has just picked up a mix of shades of orange and crimson! Everything around me becomes visible in the diffused light of the twilight! It's minutes of waiting before the sunrise! Two boys seemed to be delighted at my camera and posed for a shoot, though I was aiming at the horizon. Many thousands of spectators were patiently waiting for the rare spectacle of the sunrise at the LAND'S END! Interestingly that was the name the ancient people used for Kanyakumari or CAPE COMORIN, the anglicized name you find in an old atlas.

Now the sun is about to be seen! Visibility around is more, though the Vivekananda Memorial and the memorial and the statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar on the mid-sea rocks are still dark shadows! And the people too seemed bathed in darkness! It's too early to call it the morning! The sea with its gently lashing waves seems to tell a story of some hidden secrets of nature! The breeze is gentle and cool! The expected roar of the sea is reminiscent of a gentle whisper! So serene! I wished I could enjoy it for long!

The real spectacle! The crowd is milling around so impatiently that I have to change positions frequently. I wanted to have the whole beach for myself, if I had my way!

The change in minutes! The people who are in the picture surged ahead for a better view. All people seemed to be possessed by some strange hysteria. Thousands are behind me, mostly groups or families, jostling and murmuring! The tongues are not much local, but from northern India, and from European countries and countries like Japan, Korea, Australia, USA, to name a few! A young Polish lady said that she comes every year. It's unique and perhaps the only place on the whole earth where you can view the sunrise, the simultaneously occurring sunset and the moonrise on full-moon days, from the same spot, the same day, that too at the confluence of three mighty oceans.

Take a closer look at the sun! Can you see where the sky meets the curve of the water? The dark shadow of a boat or ship at quite a distance suggests that the horizon is still far off! The seascape is dim offering details! Only the hue changed, not clarity.

A change in the whole episode! The mood and hue underwent a sea-change! The waves now have more frequency and virility! Across to the sun the water seams smoldering huge expanse of molten gold! You haven't yet seen the skyline! No, the misguiding line to the right of the gigantic statue is the top of a huge wave formation rolling in furiously. Nature is more live, expressive and kicking than we, the mortals are!

More dramatic and emotional! Compare the number of the wave formations, crusts, the fury of rolling in and the height of the waves! Watch the foams receding the shore, enveloped by molten gold! The time difference between the two frames is just seconds! I could see the waves forming hugely in the above frame! So I hurried readying myself for the next! And I got what I wanted! Do I? Do you?

The sun more dominating! The golden streak unfortunately cannot be seen beyond the northern edge of the Vivekananda Rock above which the sun is now! Excepting the wave that broke on the rock on which I stand, everything else is golden on the run up to the sun. Elsewhere it is darkness with a golden tinge and dark shadows without bases or sources! A shadow without an object or source? In deed quite mysterious!

The next huge wave is approaching, ready to break on the rocks. Though everything looks golden across my eye-line directed at the sun, the light that can be seen when I look around and the time it has taken, say around 30 minutes, it seems that the fabulous birth of another golden day is almost going to be over!

Because of the sheer brightness of the sun the next few frames got washed out! Then I got this. The water surface is shining silver! If I had clicked the statue from the direction of the sun, I could have got a clearer picture! A boy who came to sell seashells got curios and forgot to close his mouth as I did not answer his sales pitch! I was still engrossed in the spectacle!

The closer look! Can't get better! The horizon cannot be distinguished just because of the intensity of light on the silvery water surface, the rays being almost parallel to the surface! Some details of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial are clearer, though shadowy!

Here is a more clear shot of the Vivekananda Memorial built on the Vivekananda Rock! Because of the change of angle and the shift in the sun's beams, the meeting line of the sky and the sea is also clear.

The huge stone statue of Tiruvalluvar, the great saint, philosopher and writer! His famous work, "Tirukkural" is a rare storehouse of philosophical insight and wisdom. The entire text of the book is engraved in Tamil along with English translation on stone slabs with which the base of the statue is built. You can read them from inside the base tower. Climb a few stories to reach the top storey to catch a bird's eye-view of the LAND'S END! Also enjoy the spectacular view of the sea all around you, the unique confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea! This statue stands on the first mid-sea rock seen in the photos of the sunrise! On the second rock, separated by the ocean, is the Vivekananda Memorial. Regular boat services are available to these rocks.

The LAND'S END shot from the top of the base of the Thiruvalluvar statue. I have photographed it from approximately east of the land's tip. So, the sea that you see at the bottom of the photograph is part of the Bay of Bengal. On the left side is the Indian Ocean. The sea after the rocks and till the horizon is the Arabian Sea. Though difficult to distinguish, also seen are the temple of Goddess Kanyakumari, The Gandhi Memorial, the tall viewing tower to view the sunset, the lighthouse, etc.

Yet another view of the southern most tip of peninsular India. Most of the sea in this view is the Bay of Bengal. A small part of the Arabian sea can be seen towards the far left.

The sunset! The entire seascape is Arabian Sea, while you saw the sunrise above the Bay of Bengal. The evening became cloudy and the sun played hide and seek among clouds, occasionally coming out. Watch carefully the horizon on the sea. Try to complete the line crossing the land to the far right. You will get a perfect arc, though of a larger radius. Anyone who doesn't believe that the earth is round need only have to look around from the top of the viewing tower from where I took this photo. This is only about 10% of the sea that I could see from where I was standing!

This is the best I could see. The sunset could not have been in the sea, but beyond the landscape below the sun. While the sunrise can be seen throughout the year, 365 days, the sun can be seen setting in the Arabian Sea only from October 15 to March 15, the period covering the later part of "Dakshinayan" or the winter solstice and the earlier part of "Uttarayan" or the summer solstice - the southern and northern movements of the sun across the equator. So, before March 15, the position of the sun would have been far to the left in the photo. Is it difficult to believe that the position of the sun would shift so much in so few number of days? Yes, it does!

And finally, the publisher with his windswept hair leaning against the boundary of the Vivekananda Memorial. The timing of all other photos above are progressive. But this photo was taken by my companion around the noon. The gentle breeze of the morning changed to fast wind, warm, humid, whistling past my ears! The sea too is more turbulent, huge waves lashing all around the rock.

Photos and text: Krishna K. Pillai
Date of photos: April 5, 2006.

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