Friends of Vivekananda Illam

The DMK government wants the historic Vivekananda Illam (Vivekananda House) on Beach Road vacated two years before the expiry of the 10 year lease. DMK representatives have asked the Ramakrishna Mutt to vacate the premises by Thursday, April 24.

The irony is that Chief Minister M Karunanidhi facilitated the Mutt getting the building — originally Castle Kernan and later known as Ice House — back in 1997, during his previous tenure. The Mutt’s ten year lease expires in 2010.

State government records say Swami Vivekananda stayed at Castle Kernan for nine days, from February 6-15, 1897, after his visit to the Parliament of Religions at Chicago. On this basis the government, on the centenary of the Swami’s visit, decided to grant the lease.

The lease was given on condition, according to ‘government order 89’ of the higher education department on February 24, 1997, that the building be used for a museum highlighting Swami Vivekananda’s teaching. The building was renovated and on December 20, 1999, Karunanidhi extolled Swami Vivekananda, and called the Ramakrishna mission “an Everest among NGOs”. The 10-year lease was given a month later.

The Ramakrishna Mission established a permanent exhibition which is now a major attraction for visitors to Chennai.

We the undersigned call on the Government and the civic leaders in Chennai to:

1. preserve the historic Vivekananda Illam at its present location on Beach Road; &

2. convert the present lease with the Ramakrishna Mutt that expires in 2010 to a lease in perpetuity with them.

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The Save Vivekananda Illam in Chennai petition to Friends of Vivekananda Illam was written by Anila Gupta and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.