History

Chola, Chera and Pandya, the three important Dynasties those ruled south India for a long time had proved their sovereignty in maritime trade. While Chera’s dominated the ports of west coast, the other two were super powers of the east coast. With a profound study, vestiges of Chola rule can be traced at the south-west coast also. A stone inscription of A.D. 1063, on the eastern wall of Thirunandhikkarai temple in Kanyakumari District, corroborates the renaming Muttom village as Mummudi Cholanellur by Great Raja Raja Cholan -1, to mark his visit to the village.

Once Suez Canal was opened for shipping, the traffic between Red sea and southern tip of India increased in several folds. To make this a safe path for ships, traders and insurance companies in England wanted a lighthouse at the southern tip of India. In 1867, Madras Presidency approved the proposal and decided to erect a lighthouse at Kanyakumari. While selecting the site for new lighthouse, suggestions were called from Mr. Hugh Crawford, the commercial agent for Travancore. Crawford, who had worked as Port officer at Tuticorin and Alleppey, suggested that the light be placed at Muttom point, so that it will be useful to mark the dangers from the submerged rock called Crocodile rock lying 3 miles off Muttom also. Due to difference of opinion in selecting the site, project was delayed for years.

The land required for the construction of lighthouse was given by Travancore Kingdom free of cost. A white painted 20m high octagonal stone masonry tower was erected on the Muttom hillock and the light was commissioned in September 1875. For improvement of light, a 14.6 meters high new stone tower with black and white horizontal bands was erected in the same position and the light started functioning from it on 1st January 1883.

Hugh Crawford