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Vivekananda Memorial

Place : Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu
Significance : A magnificent memorial of Vivekananda built on a rocky islet
Best Time to Visit : Throughout the year
Timings : Open on all days  from 0700 - 1100 and  1400 - 1700
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Located at the southern most tip of the Indian Peninsula where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, is Kanyakumari, the place famous for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here out in the sea, about 400m from the shore, on a rocky islet lies a magnificent monument, a memorial dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, the Bengali religious leader, philosopher and social reformer. 

The memorial was built in 1970 by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to commemorate the visit of Swamy Vivekananda here in December 1892, for deep meditation and enlightenment. The memorial designed by Sthapati Sri S.K. Achari and consecrated by Srimad Swami Vireshwarananda, President of Ramakrishna mission was formally inaugurated by Sri. V.V. Giri, the then President of India in September 1970.

The memorial as a whole has two main structures Vivekananda Mandapam and Sripada Mandapam, on two rocks standing adjacent to each other separated by about 70 metres. The smaller rock known as 'Sripada Parai' has been revered as a sacred place even from very ancient times. Legend says that Goddess Kanya Kumari meditated on this rock and there is actually a projection on the rock similar in form to a human foot believed to be the 'Sripadam' or the feet of the Goddess. It is the focal point of the memorial. It is now enclosed in a square shrine or Sripada Madapam. This shrine consists of the sanctum sanctorum, an inner compartment as well as outer compartment. There is an outer platform all around.

Vivekananda Mandapam with a dimension of 534' x 426', consists of a Meditation Hall ( Dhyana Mandapam) with six adjacent rooms where visitors can meditate peacefully and an Assembly hall (Sabha Mandapam) with two rooms and a corridor. A statue of Swami Vivekananda in a standing posture, has also been installed in the Assembly hall, with its vision directed towards the 'Sripadam'. The sacred Hindu Symbol 'aum' or 'om' is written above the main entrance of the memorial, in Tamil. The design of the mandapa incorporates different styles of temple architecture from all over India. Wide entrance steps lead to the main entrance. The cost of construction of the memorial came up to 1 crore 35 lakhs. The rock on which the memorial stands measures about 164 mtrs. x 130 mtrs. at the water level and has a spacious level top at an altitude of 17 mtrs.

Swamy Vivekanada (1863-1902),  the spiritual genius renounced the world and traveled widely as a wandering monk after the death of his guru Sri Ramakrishna. He came to Kanyakumari in 1892, swam in the ocean up to the 'Sripada' rock, and spent the whole night there meditating. It is believed that he received enlightenment here which transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leaders of this century. The next year in 1893, he attended the Parliament of Religions, a major event in the modern history of Hinduism, held in Chicago, and spread the Vedantha philosophy and religion in the West. He founded the Ramakrishna math and mission in 1897. His lectures and writings are available as books.

Poompuhar Shipping Corporation operates regular ferry service to the island from the mainland. There are two helipads on the Rock, one on the northwest and the other on the southwest. The memorial attracts thousands of visitors and offers a spectacular view of the mainland and the ocean. It opens from Wednesday to Monday from 0700 to 1100 in the morning and from 1400 to 1700 in the afternoon. Tuesday is a holiday. Nearby there is a recently erected Tiruvalluvar statue, the author of the philosophical work 'Tirukkural', a treatise on the Indian way of life.