It derives its name from the goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, considered to be a sister of Krishna. Women pray to her for marriage. The goddess is believed to be the one who removes the rigidity for our mind. It is not only the southernmost tip of peninsular India but also southernmost tip of the Cardamom Hills, an extension of the Western Ghats range. It has an average elevation of 300 meter. Contrary to the popular (and sensational) belief that Kanyakumari lies at the meeting point of three bodies of water, it borders only one: the Laccadive Sea to the south west, south and to the southeast. It is the confluence of the Western Coastal Plains and Eastern Coastal Plains.

Though there are several places of tourist-interest in the town and district, Kanyakumari is especially popular in India for its spectacular and unique sunrise and sunset, thanks to its being nearly surrounded by waters. During the occasion of full-moon evenings (locally called Chitra Pournami), we can also see the moon-rise and sunset at the same time.