Sunday, December 4, 2016

A day at Vivekananda Memorial Rock, Kanyakumari

The time had come for us to start packing and leave for our trip to Kanyakumari and Rameswaram. I had created the itinerary based on several blogs and travel portals. A visit to Vivekananda memorial rock was on top of every list. Legend says that while Swami Vivekananda was in Kanyakumari, he saw this monolith rock and wanted to go there. He asked a fisherman to take him on his boat to the rock. The fisherman refused as the water was shark infested. Swami had decided to reach the rock anyhow. He dived into the waters and swam towards the rock. He meditated there for 3 days before departing for Chicago for a conference.

We wanted to visit the memorial on the first day itself but couldn't get the tickets for the ferry. We went to buy the ticket the next day when we had to wait in the queue, and by the time we got, it was already 4PM.  We were a bit concerned about the timing, for the memorial visit was till 6PM.
vivekananda memorial rock ticket queue
People lined up for getting tickets for ferry ride to Vivekananda memorial rock
We took life vests and boarded the ferry. Generally the ticket includes visit to the memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue rock, but it was suspended currently due to short tidal waves. The ferry took around 20 minutes to reach the memorial. The day being a Sunday, it was crowded with local as well as tourists from all over India and foreigners. One has to remove their shoes and enter the premises. There are several free shoe counters near the entrance. The premises is kept clean and has lots of bins so that tourist doesn't pollute the place with plastics and other wastes. The premises has two main structures, Vivekananda Mandapam, and Sri Pada Mandapam.

vivekananda mandapam, vivekananda memorial rock
Vivekananda Mandapam
sri pada mandapam, vivekananda memorial rock
Sri Pada Mandapam 

There's a dhyana mandapam inside Vivekananda mandapam, where tourists and travelers can sit and meditate. The mandapam's architecture resembles that of Ajanta and Ellora cave architecture. A bronze life size statue of Swami Vivekananda in parivrajak pose is in the centre of the main hall.

Sri Pada mandapam is created around the area where it is believed Swami Vivekananda sat and meditated for 3 days. There's a projection in the centre of the mandapam which resembles a foot. Legend says that this was where goddess Kanya did her penance. The legend is mentioned in detail on this blog.
view from vivekananda memorial
View from Vivekananda Memorial Rock

There's a book stall in the premises where one can read books on Swami Vivekananda and buy them. They also keep diaries, calendars and gift items related to Swami. Next to the stall is a meditation room. The room is kept dark and OM chanting plays in the room. Tourists can spend some time in this room. I meditated for sometime and it actually felt good.
Bookstall and Meditation centre

We spent some more time at the rock enjoying the view and pure air. It was quite windy that day. It was almost 6PM by now and the security had started escorting all the remaining tourists towards the ferry. We boarded the ferry and came back to the jetty. There was a tea stall just outside the jetty and it was just about to close. We had tea and left for our hotel.
Vivekananda Memorial Rock and Thiruvalluvar Statue from the jetty

Vivekananda Mandapam as seen from the jetty

Ticket price per person (ferry charge and entry to the memorial): Rs 34.
Special ticket: Rs 169 per person which will let you avoid the long queue and go to the ferry, since the queue for general ticket are generally long.

It was a day well spent looking at the architecture and learning more about the history of this place. Buying tickets for the ferry is one of the toughest thing which I'll write about in my next blog on my experience in Kanyakumari.

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