The eastern and western coasts of India taper and meet to form the southernmost point of the country: Kanyakumari. Its geographical uniqueness with respect to India lies in its being the point of confluence of the three major water bodies surrounding India: the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. It is the one place in India where one can witness the sun rise from the sea in the morning and set into the sea again, in the evening.
Apart from being a symbol of unity, it is a symbol of sanctity as well. Legend has it that it was here that Goddess Parvati in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanya, did penance to obtain the hand of God Shiva, the Lord of Kailasha, abiding in the Himalayas in the northern extremity of India.
As a reminder of that event, there at the lands tapering end stands, from ancient times, a magnificient temple enshrining the image of Goddess Kanyakumari. In fact, the Kanyakumari village has been known by that name only because of its association with this temple.
It is also widely believed that the original Kumari temple was on the (Vivekananda) Rock, or somewhere near it, and that the Rock itself was part of the mainland. Sometime in the distant past, the sea encroached upon the mainland and turned the Rock into an island, with the result that the old temple had to be rebuilt on its present site.
According to the legend, it was on this Rock that Goddess Kanya carried out her penance. Since ancient times, the Rock has been known as Shripada Parai: the Parai (the Tamil word for rock) that has been blessed by the touch of Shripada (which in Sanskrit stands for the feet of the Goddess). On the Rock, there is a projection, similar in form to a human foot and little brownish in complexion, which has traditionally been revered as a symbol of the Shripadam.
Whatever truth there may be in the above tradition, what is certain is that the Rock has been venerated through the ages by Shakti-worshippers (devotees of Kali and Durga) as a place of great spiritual efficacy.