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Vivekanandar Illam is the house where Swami Vivekananda stayed for 9 days during his visit to Chennai in 1897 after his historic participation in the ‘Parliament of Religions’ in Chicago. There is permanent Exhibition at Vivekanandar Illam, on Swami Vivekananda’s Life & Indian Culture.
Biligiri Iyengar, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda and the owner of the building invited Swami to come and stay here for a while, after Swami’s return from the West. Swami Vivekananda agreed and stayed at Vivekanandar Illam from 6th February 1897 to 14th February 1897. Swamiji also agreed to set up a permanent center at this building and asked his direct disciple Swami Ramakrishnananda to take charge of that work .
Ramakrishna mutt or Ramakrishna Math or Ramakrishna mission, was founded by Swami Ramakrishnananda, on Swami Vivekananda’s orders. (Mutt or Math means monetary.) From 1897 to 1906, during its first 10 years, Ramakrishna Math was functioning from this house. Then it moved to its current location at Mylapore, Chennai. Later on, in 1914, the house was acquired by Government of Madras and later on the house landed up with its current owner, Government of Tamilnadu. The house is currently leased to Ramakrishna Math, till 2020.
43 paintings detailing the evolution of Indian culture is displayed here. 120 photographs of the Swami Vivekanandar is also displayed for public view. The second Floor room where Swamiji stayed is a meditation room now. There are Books and photographs of Swamiji for sale here. As part of second phase of expansion in connection with 150th Birth Anniversary of Swamiji, Vivekanandar Illam is now having digital screening on Indian culture, thoughts of swami Vivekananda, swami Vivekananda teachings, etc. Ramakrishna mission undertakes various charity works. Meditation classes, Yoga classes, computer classes, etc, are conducted here.
Other Names of Vivekanandar House or Illam
Vivekanandar Illam or Vivekanandar House was earlier known as “Ice House” (because the building was used for Ice business to store Ice blocks from Great Lakes in North America by the British) and “Castle Kernan” (named after Justice Kernan, of Madras High Court).
Swami Ramakrishnananda and Swami Vivekananda, Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Swami Ramakrishnananda was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and later on took charge of his Ashram after Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa‘s death in 1886. Swami Vivekananda (alias Narendranath, his original name), was also a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Swami Ramakrishnananda preached the messages of Both Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa & Swami Vivekananda for 14 years. Swami Ramakrishnananda breathed his last in 1911.
How Do I Go to Vivekanandar Illam?
Vivekanandar House or Illam (Tamil word for house) is situated on the Kamarajar Salai, on the Marina Beach front and is easily accessible by public transport, hired cabs, etc. Nearest MRTS railway station is Chepak station. MRTS is the ‘Mass Rapid Transport Service’ or the suburban train service in Chennai city.