Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Kanyakumari - Vivekananda Rock Memorial -Build History

                  Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a sacred monument and popular tourist attraction in Vavathurai, Kanyakumari, India. The memorial stands on one of two rocks located about 500 meters off mainland of Vavathurai, India's southernmost tip. It was built in 1970 by the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee in honour of the visit of the great spiritual teacher Swami Vivekananda to Shripada Parai during the month of December 1892 for deep meditation and enlightenment. He swam to this rock and meditated about the past, present and future of India. It is said that he attained enlightenment on the rock, and henceforth became a reformer and philosopher.
From very ancient times, the rock has been regarded as a sacred place. The mythical tradition states that it has been known as 'Sripada Parai', meaning the rock that has been blessed by the touch of ‘the sacred feet’ of the Devi Kumari. On the rock is a projection similar in form to a human foot and a little brownish in complexion, which has traditionally been venerated as a symbol of Shripadam. According to legend, it was on this rock that Devi Kumari performed austerity.
A meditation hall (Dhyana Mandapam) is also attached to the memorial for visitors to meditate. The design of the mandapa incorporates different styles of temple architecture from all over India. It houses a statue of Vivekananda. The merger of three seas - Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea andIndian Ocean can be seen from these rocks.
The memorial consists of two main structures, the Vivekananda Mandapam and the Shripada Mandapam.

Vivekananda Mandapam
This Mandapam erected in honour of Vivekananda consists of
·         Dhyana Mandapam - The meditation Hall with six adjacent rooms
·         Sabha Mandapam - The Assembly Hall including Pralima Mandapam (statue section) two rooms, a corridor and an open prakaram(outer courtyard) round the Sabha  Mandapam
·         Mukha Mandapam
·         Front Entrance - The steps with two rooms and a corridor below the steps.Prajakta

Shripada Mandapam
This square hall consists of the following structures.
·         Garbha Graham - The sanctum sanctorum
·         Inner Prakaram
·         Outer Prakaram
·         Outer Platform

Both the Mandapams are so designed that the vision of Vivekananda in the statue would be seen direct towards the Shripadam.


The Vivekananda Rock Memorial consists of two main structures: the Vivekananda Mandapam and the Shripada Mandapam, besides other ancillary structures like water reservoirs, power distribution centre, waiting hall, wireless communication centre, caretaker’s office, stores, Pradakshnina Patha (circular pathway), etc. on the Rock.
How Each Indian Contribute to make this wonderful monument:-


  • Work on Vivekananda Rock Memorial started on 6 November 1964 and took about six years for completion. The consecration and inauguration of the Memorial was held on 2 September 1970.
  • Around 30 lakh (3 million) people donated 1 rupee each, minimum, towards the national endeavour.
  • Total cost of construction at that time was 1 crore and 35 lakh rupees (Rs. 13,500,000).
  • The Vivekananda Statue was prepared by N. L. Sonavadekar, Assistant Lecturer of Sculpture, Sir J. J. School of Arts, Bombay.
  • The statue was modelled on a portrait of swami made by S. M. Pandit.
  • The portrait was given to eight sculptors in the country who had to prepare a full scale model of the statue in clay. Of these, the one by N. L. Sonavadekar was selected for the Rock Memorial, while one by S. S. Arte was installed in Vivekanandapuram.
  • The Chief Engineer and Architect: S. K. Achari of Devakottai (Tamil Nadu).
  • The bulk of the stone used in the Memorial is blue granite, procured from a quarry near Ambasamudram (115 km from Kanyakumari). Red granite used for the Shikharams of the Vivekananda Mandapam was procured from a quarry near Tuticorin (150 km from Kanyakumari).
  • Two helipads are provided on the Rock: one on the north-west (95’ x 45’) and the other on the south-west (114’ x 53’).
  • Power supply to the Rock is via a 1600 feet long submarine cable in the seabed.
  • Total length of the curved breakwater wall on the shore side: 580’. Width: 18’.
  • Maximum depth of the sea between the Rock and the shore: 20’
  • Distance between Vivekananda Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam: 60’
  • The Shripada Mandapam, Vivekananda Mandapam, and the statue have been so designed that the vision of Swamiji in the statue is seen directed towards the Shripadam.
  • Total cft of stones (granite) used: 73155 cft
  • Total weight of granite used (excluding flooring): 6000 tons
  • Maximum weight of a pillar (single piece): 13 tons
  • Maximum length and size of a beam: 17½’ x 2¾’ x 2½’
  • Maximum weight of a beam: 9 tons
  • Maximum number of workmen on the project: 900 (average 650)
  • Total working days: 2081
  • Total person-days: 783767
  • Donations by Central and State Governments towards Rock Memorial construction

Amount (in Rs.)
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Goa, Daman & Diu
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu & Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Donation in kind*
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal
Central Government
  • * The Tamil Nadu government put up a break water wall in the sea on the shore side to facilitate construction of jetty platforms as well as providing a shelter for vessels at the Rock.
  • Donations by Public Committees towards Rock Memorial construction
Amount (in Rs.)
Andhra Pradesh
Assam and N.E.F.A.
Goa, Daman & Diu
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu & Kashmir
Kerala & Lakshadweep
Madhya Pradesh
New Delhi
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal,
Andaman and Nicobar
Individuals from abroad
About Place:-
“Let us go then you and I, Where the ocean is spread out against the sky Two insignificant specks into the horizon Through the endless waters of time....”
Standing on the rocks lashed by waves, staring at the never ending deep blue expanse all around, a strange sense of tranquillity suffused me. Mesmerised by the sweeping vista of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea from the rocky outcrop behind Vivekanand Rock Memorial, away from the milling tourists, realisation dawned, “Man is but a mere insignificant speck in the universe”.
The memorial is one of the major tourist attraction of the small sleepy town of Kanyakumari. Nestling between vast green stretches of paddy fields and coconut groves, Kanyakumari is not only the southernmost point of India and the confluence of Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.


8°04’ N, 77°33’ E
At the southernmost tip of India’s mainland lies the town of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. It is the point of convergence of the three vast seas that flank India on the west, south and east: the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
Roughly half a kilometre into the sea from the tapering end of the mainland is a pair of rocks rising above the surface. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is built on the bigger of these rocks (the smaller one now carries the statue of Thiruvalluvar).


The Vivekananda Rock measures about 534’ x 426’ at the water level and has a spacious level top at an altitude of 55 feet.
The total area is about 4 acres (16,200 sq.m.).
It is separated from the Thiruvalluvar Rock by a distance of 220 feet and a cluster of stones protruding from the sea between them.

There is also Sri Padaparai (Padam-feet; Parai - rock) Mandapam which is a shrine erected at the spot where the footprint of the Virgin Goddess is seen on the rock.

Story –How Swami reach there?

The lands end, where both Sunset,sunshine and moonrise is visible from the sea. Virtually making it an ideal place for meditation saints to meditate on the rocks. This rock island invited Swami Vivekanada to meditate, and to obtain gyaan beyond human imagination. Kanyakumari was known as Cape Commorin during the British times. Kanyakumari signifies virginity of mind, body and soul for the locale populace. 

Inorder to understand the history of construction of Vivekanada Rock memorial one has to dwell into the literature published by the Vivekanada Ashram.

What is the historical and spiritual significance of the rock on which the Vivekananda memorial has been put up? As an itinerant monk traveling all over India, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari in December 1892. He had traversed the vast land of India upon the soles of his feet. He had suffered from hunger, from thirst, form murderous nature and insulting man. When he arrived at Kanyakumari, he was exhausted. Having no money to pay for a boat to take him to the end of his pilgrimage, he flung himself into the sea, and swam across the shark-infested strait and reached the top of a mid-sea rock on 25 December, Christmas day, in 1892. He spent three days there, returning to the shore only on 28th December 1892. At last his task was at an end, and then, looking back as from a mountain he embraced the whole of the India he had just traversed, and the world of thought that had beset him during his wanderings. For more than two years earlier he had lived in a seething cauldron, consumed with a fever ; he had carried a soul on fire, he was a storm and hurricane. 

Now on this mid-sea rock, There he meditated not on God but on Mother India who for Swami Vivekananda was Divine Durga incarnate. What a strange meditation ! It was as if all the pages of India's history opened up before him. The vast panorama of his experiences during his travels past before his mind's eye. He meditated on the past, the present and the future of India, the cause of her downfall and the means of her resurrection. He felt in his heart of hearts that India would rise only through a renewal and restoration of that highest spiritual consciousness which had made her, throughout her history, the cradle of religions and cultures. He then, sitting at the last bit of rock in the Indian ocean, took the momentous decision to go to the West to give shape to his life's mission of spreading India's religion and culture throughout the whole world and also to seek help for the poor millions of India.

Hindrances to built the Memorial:-

When the proposal for a memorial for Swami Vivekananda became known to all in Kanyakumari in the latter half of 1962, suddenly the whole atmosphere in Kanyakumari got surcharged with conflicting emotions between the Hindus and the Christians in the area. The very idea of a memorial to Swami Vivekananda was not taken to kindly by a sizable population of the local Catholic fishermen. Stealthily they managed to put up a big Cross on the Rock which was visible from the shore. This led to strong protests by the Hindu population who said the Rock was a place of worship for Hindus.

 A judicial probe was ordered by the then Madras (now Tamilnadu) Government and the finding of this Commission was stated in unequivocal terms that the rock was indeed known as Vivekananda Rock, and that the Cross put up by the Catholic fishermen was a clear case of trespass. Amid all this controversy and acrimony, the Cross was one day removed secretly in the night. The law and order situation turned volatile and consequently the Rock was declared a prohibited area with armed guards patrolling it. 

The Government of Madras realized that the Rock was turning into an area of dispute with Hindus claiming it to be the Vivekananda Rock and Christians claiming it as St Xavier's Rock. The Government made it clear that although the rock was Vivekananda Rock, there would be no memorial constructed on it. The then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri M. Bhaktavatsalam, said that only a tablet declaring that the rock was associated with Swami Vivekananda could be put up, and nothing else. 

Built By:-

Accordingly, with government permission, a tablet was installed on the Rock on 17 January 1963 to mark the birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda. But the voices clamoring for a full-fledged Memorial on the Rock did not die. In May1963, some Christian elements who were seeking vengeance for the earlier removal of the Cross from the rock, demolished the Vivekananda commemorative tablet and threw it into the sea. After clearing up all the political obstacles on the path the goal of speedy construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari, The famous sculptor D P Roy Choudhry who had sculpted the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Marina beach He was a very famous sculptor. every State government to make a decent contribution towards the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. What is amazing is that he succeeded in making even the States of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh participate in the work of construction of the memorial . All the State Governments put together made only a paltry a contribution of Rs.35 lakhs.
In the beginning, the estimated cost of construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was Rs 30 lakh. Then it increased to Rs 60 lakhs, then later to 75 lakh. Finally the total cost after completion worked out to Rs one crore and thirty five lakh. Just think what a great achievement it was to mobilize such a huge sum of money forty years ago and complete the work in six years! The Vivekananda Rock Memorial was inaugurated on 2 September, 1970, and dedicated to the nation by V V Giri, the President of India. Kalaigner Karunanidhi presided over the dedication ceremony.


A timetable of major events related to Vivekananda Rock Memorial.

Idea of erecting a memorial for Swami Vivekananda as his birth centenary is to follow in 1963
01 Aug 1962
Unregistered committee starts functioning.
15 Sep 1962
First ad hoc committee meeting is held at Madras.
19 Sep 1962
Devaswom Board, Suchindram, grants permission to start ferry service to and fro Vivekananda Rock. Boat service starts in the evening.
02 Oct 1962
Armed police guards planted at the Rock in view of the friction arising from erecting and removing a cross on the Rock.
10 Oct 1962
Devaswom Board, Suchindram, grants permission to construct a statue of Swami Vivekananda on the Vivekananda Rock.
11 Nov 1962
Members of the Executive Committee of the All India Committee elected.
17 Jan 1963
Birth centenary of Swamiji is celebrated at Kanyakumari. A memorial tablet in marble is erected on the Rock.
29 Mar 1963
The All India Swami Vivekananda Centenary Celebration and Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee is registered.
20 Apr 1963
The Memorial tablet on the Rock is disfigured.
18 May 1963
The Memorial tablet is stolen.
11 Aug 1963
Eknathji Ranade becomes the Organising Secretary.
23 Dec 1963
Eknathji takes the first signature in the petition of parliamentarians.
26 Dec 1963
The petition with signatures of 323 MPs is given to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
29 Aug 1964
Committee approves Chief Engineer and Architect S. K. Achari’s Memorial plan.
24 Sep 1964
Madras Government grants permission for the erection of the statue of Swami Vivekananda on the Vivekananda Rock.
06 Nov 1964
Chiselling the first stone starts.
03 Sep 1966
Drilling core sample on the Rock starts.
12 Dec 1967
Stone masonry work starts on the Rock. Meditation Hall work taken up first.
03 Dec 1967
The name Vivekananda Kendra is suggested for conducting activities preached and envisaged by Swami Vivekananda.
19 Jun 1968
Submerged power cable to the Rock is energised.
18 Sep 1968
Permission to construct Shripada Mandapam is received.
27 Dec 1968
Tentative date of 9 Mar 1970 fixed for inauguration of the Rock Memorial.
06 Mar 1970
Dhyan Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam completed.
16 Jul 1970
Main dome, circular path way, power house completed.
21 Jul 1970
Campus is named Vivekanandapuram.
21 Aug 1970
Shripada Mandapam consecrated.
02 Sep 1970
Consecration of the Rock Memorial. Inauguration of the Rock Memorial by President V. V. Giri.
26 Dec 1971
Dwajasthambam is ready for flag hoisting.
07 Jan 1972
Flag hoisting on the Rock at sunrise and lowering at sunset starts. Vivekananda Kendra comes into being.

"A man should know something of his own country too, before he goes abroad." - Laurence Sterne

          SOME BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS OF THIS wonderful monument...




VIDEO about this monument...

150th Anniversary wishes for that saint in this valuable moment...and happy to say that we all are Indians....

To see the Another Post related this then click the below shown link:-(PHOTOS)
Vivekananda Rock Photos