Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Vivekananda Rock Memorial built in the year 1970 as a memorial to Swami Vivekananda, is located 500 meters east of the mainland of Vavathurai in Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin District is located on the southernmost tip of Indian peninsula covered with the sea on three sides (Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal).
The magnificent memorial was built in honour of Swami Vivekananda or Swamiji, the Indian Hindu monk who was the disciple of Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. This place is considered sacred as Swamiji is believed to have attained enlightenment meditating on this rock. Also according to legends, Goddess Kanyakumari performed austerities on this rock and so the rock is known as ‘Sripada Parai’.
The Memorial can be reached through a ferry service that is operated by the Tamil Nadu Department of Tourism. The design of the memorial is a conglomeration of different architectural styles of India.
Installation of the Memorial
Swami Vivekananda, during his visit to Kanyakumari on 24th December 1892 (prior to his Chicago trip to take part in the “World Religious Conference”), is said to have meditated on the rock for two days and attained enlightenment. Later on, Swami Vivekananda became the most illustrious philosopher and Hindu spiritual reformer and a major force in the revival of Hinduism.
The Kanyakumari Committee was set up in January 1962, marking the birth centenary of Swamiji, to establish a memorial of Swamiji on the rock. Simultaneously, the Ramakrishna Mission in Madras also conceived of such a memorial. However, the local Catholic fishermen showed a strong dislike for the idea and put up a big cross on the rock. On the other hand, protests by the Hindus led to volatile situations and the Rock was declared a prohibited area. It was on 17th January 1963, with government permission, that a tablet was installed on the Rock that mentioned its association with Swami Vivekananda.
Shri Eknath Ramakrishna Ranade & his Role
Shri Eknath Ramakrishna Ranade, popularly known as Eknathji, was a social reformer and a senior pracharak of the ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’. Ranade was deeply influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Ranade established the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Organising Committee and became its Organising Secretary. The Committee soon opened up several branches across the country to build support and raise funds for the memorial.
Ranade had to face political hurdles such as the rejection of the project by the Minister of Education and Culture, Humayun Kabir. Ranade soon managed to collect 323 signatures of the Members of Parliament in support of the memorial, following which Smt. Indira Gandhi (the then Prime Minister of India) approved the project.
Once the project got approved, Ranade led a team of volunteers to raise funds from donors across the country. The State and Central Governments also contributed towards the fund total of Rs. 12.5 million.
Ranade’s strong belief in the Memorial mission led to the completion of the construction work in a short period of six years. It was inaugurated in 1970 by President of India V. V. Giri.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial – An Architectural Excellence
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a blend primarily of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu style of architecture. The Memorial houses two main structures namely Vivekananda Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam.
Vivekananda Mandapam – The structure of Vivekananda Mandapam is, erected in honour of Swami Vivekananda consists of the following sections:
- Dhyana Mandapam or the meditation hall has six adjacent rooms, featuring the temple architectural styles of India.
- Sabha Mandapam or the Assembly Hall consists of the Pralima Mandapam (statue section) with two rooms, a corridor and an outer courtyard encompassing the Sabha Mandapam. The statue of Swamiji is positioned such that his vision directly falls on the Shripadam.
- Mukha Mandapam
- Namastubhyam to the son of Jagadamba
Shripada Mandapam – This is a square hall consisting of:
- Garba Graham or the sanctum sanctorum
- Inner Prakaram
- Outer Prakaram
- Outer Platform
Vivekananda Kendra – The Living Memorial
Vivekananda Kendra, a spiritual organization situated alongside the Rock Memorial was officially founded on 7th January 1972 marking the 108th birth anniversary of Swamiji. Shri Eknath Ranade decided that young men and women joining Vivekananda Kendra as Karyakartas (social workers) would have a platform to serve God in man. The organization involved in activities such as rural development, Yoga classes and seminars.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial – Visiting Hours & Fee
The Rock Memorial can be visited throughout the year from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Charges for entry is Rs. 10, still camera is Rs. 10 and video camera is Rs. 50 and ferry charges Rs. 20 per head. Bountiful lodging and accommodation facilities are available for tourists to avail.
How to reach Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari
Kanyakumari located at a distance of 19 kilometres from Nagercoil and 90 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram is well connected by bus with major South Indian cities. The nearest rail head is Kanyakumari Junction (around 1.5 kilometre away) and nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport (around 95 kilometres away).
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is one of the most revered rock monuments providing its visitors a serene and peaceful experience. The cultural and religious significance of the place clubbed together with its architecture attracts visitors throughout the world. The Memorial Rock depicts our country’s cultural values and is considered a must visit destination of Kanyakumari.