Have you ever felt like dropping everything and meditating on a rock far away from civilization? Today, we’re heading to Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari to do exactly that…
500 meters away from the mainland, and further away from the hustle and bustle of city life, is Vivekananda Rock Memorial, a place of great scenic beauty, historical importance and religious significance. It is undeniably one of the most popular places to see in Kanyakumari, this rock is considered to be holy as well as an architectural wonder. It has the picturesque Indian Ocean in its backdrop and hence serves as a peaceful and serene destination for visitors from all across the globe.
It is situated on one of the two adjacent rocks projecting out of the Lakshadweep Sea. The experience begins much before you reach the rocks. The ferry ride up to these rock islands is an exhilarating journey in itself. And a lot of nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts flock here. Some come finding peace and some looking for thrill.
The year was 1970. And after 6 years of painstaking construction and ingenious architecture, the captivating memorial of Swami Vivekananda was built.
And has been a major tourist attraction ever since. The island on which the statue is located is said to have been the site where Vivekananda attained enlightenment. In his honour, this memorial stands proud. After meditating here, he left for the World Religious Conference in Chicago in 1892.
The Shripada Mandapam has a study hall and a museum, where one can walk through and relive Vivekananda’s life and explore his work in detail.
This Mandapam adds to the spiritual significance and of the memorial along with emphasising on its purity. It is the perfect spot to meditate and introspect. With the calming sea on all sides, the surroundings are serene and the construction is truly majestic. This makes the Vivekananda Memorial is an unforgettable experience.
According to historical tales and legends, it is believed that Goddess Kumari performed austerity on this rock and had left an imprint of her feet on the rocks. This makes it blessed and pious. There is a ‘Dhyana Mandapam’ located next to the memorial, with six adjacent rooms, that serves as the meditation hall for the visitors to meditate. The style of architecture followed here is distinctive and incorporates various temple styles from all over India.
The majestic architecture of the memorial is divided into two major sections, namely – the Vivekananda Mandapam and the Shripada Mandapam. The Vivekananda Mandapam has the following sections – Dhyana Mandapam, Sabha Mandapam or the assembly hall, Pralima Mandapam, where the statue stands, two rooms, a corridor and an open prakaram or courtyard around the Sabha Mandapam, Mukha Mandapam, Namashtubhyam to the Son of jagadamba. This Mandapam was erected in honour of Swamiji and is believed to be the place where he attained enlightenment.
The Shripada Mandapam is the square hall and has the following sections- Garbha Graham, inner prakaram, outer prakaram and the outer platform.
Shri Padaparai Mandapam is also present in the vicinity, which is a shrine that was erected to mark the footprint of the virgin goddess on the rock.
Eknath Ramakrishna Ranade set up the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Organizing Committee. He worked relentlessly and even when funds were in paucity, he started a fund-campaign to aid the mission. He believed the Rock memorial to be a national monument and wanted every Indian to contribute to its construction. He launched various campaigns, like the campaign of one-rupee folders throughout the nation to mobilize the donation of the general public.
The establishment of Vivekananda Kendra—the Living Memorial alongside the stone structure of the Rock Memorial—was done in 1964. After the groundwork of about nine years, Vivekananda Kendra was officially founded on 7 January 1972 on the 108th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda based on the Hindu calendar. The tradition of penance was to be continued by young men and women coming as Karyakartas of Vivekananda Kendra to spread the message of Swami Vivekananda.
The memorial welcomes everyone on all days of the week from 7 in the morning to 5 in the evening. The entry fee is a mere Rs. 10 and if you’re a shutterbug, a still camera will be charged Rs. 10 and a video camera will be charged Rs. 50. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is one place everyone should visit at least once. Because once you do, the peace and calm will make you promise to come again, sooner.