Kanyakumari District takes its name from the town of Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. Kanyakumari District is also sometimes called Kumari District. The town of Kanyakumari is geographically a cape. During the British Raj, Kanyakumari was bestowed the title of Cape Comorin, necessitated perhaps by the Englishman\'s inability to pronounce local names..
This place has been a great center for art, culture, civilization, and pilgrimage for years. It was also a famous center for commerce and trade. During the early part of the eighth century AD Islam entered the southern part of India through the sea route with traders and missionaries. Through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, Christianity arrived in this area in AD 52. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have greatly contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of this place. Kanyakumari was also under the control of the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks who were great rulers of south India.
For about four centuries, Venad was ruled by powerful kings who were consistently making incursions into the Pandyan territories. As a result the Vijayanagar kings proceeded against Venad. In 1609 Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai, while the remaining parts of Nanjilnadu was under Venad. Later Venad was expanded towards the Northern Kerala, and came to be known as Thiruvithamkoor or Travancore. Padmanabhapuram near Nagercoil was the capital of Travancore.
In spite of the troubles encountered in the southern border of Venad, Marthanda Varma expanded the kingdom northwards to Aluva and expanded the kingdom of Travancore. As a result, the present day Kanyakumari District came to be known as Southern Travancore. In 1745, the capital was shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram.
The rule of the Travancore royals finally ceased in 1947 when Travancore had to join the independent Indian Union. In 1949, Kanyakumari district became part of the newly constituted Travancore-Cochin state. The majority of the people of South Travancore Taluks (Kanyakumari District) were Tamil-speaking and a popular agitation for merging the Tamil majority areas of South Travancore to Madras State (now Tamil Nadu) was started during this period. The State Reorganisation Commission of India also recommended this. Accordingly, the Indian States Reorganisation Act of 1956 was passed and Kanyakumari District was formed on 1 November 1956 with the four Taluks, Viz., Agasteeswarem, Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode from Travancore, merged with Tamil Nadu.
On 26 December 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami that struck several countries of South Asia, South-East and Africa caused havoc in the coastal areas of the district, with the western coast of the district severely affected. Casualties were close to 900 and several hundreds were missing or injured. Social organizations from several countries and the Government have since been working on rehabilitating the affected people and property.