The Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest proponents of Vedanta- a key Hindu philosophy that aims to the eternal truth of life. Although the idea was mooted in 1962 to coincide with the birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda, the monument was built only around 1970.
One may wonder, of all the places, why was this last stone of India chosen to commemorate the sacred memory of the Swamiji? It was on this rock that the Swami Vivekananda meditated before leaving for Chicago to address the World Religious Conference in 1892. There’s also an interesting story that goes like this.
After visiting the Kanyakumari Amman temple, Swami Vivekananda stood on the seashore gazing at two rocks that stood some furlongs away. He was seized by a sudden desire to visit these rocks. Legend has it that one of these rocks was the exact place where the Goddess Bhagawathi Amman stood in penance. As proof of this belief, there’s a small projection on the rock that resembles a human foot. In fact, the rock has been called Sri Pada Parai (in Tamil) since Puranic times; roughly translated, it means the rock with the Goddess’s feet. Since he did not have money to pay for the boatmen (to ferry him to the rock), he swam all the way to the rock. He sat in meditation for three days and nights with nothing but the ocean for company. Being an ardent devotee of Kali, it was only to be expected of him to choose this place. It was here that Swami Vivekananda realized the need to reawaken India from its spiritual ignorance.
About the Memorial:
While the main building has an architectural style reminiscent of the Sri Ramakrishna Temple at Belur, the entrance is inspired by the Ajanta and Ellora cave temples. Inside the main hall is a life-size statue of the Swamiji. Besides the hall, there’s also a dhyana-mandapam, where devotees can sit in meditation. Adjacent to the main mandapam, is the Sri Pada Mandapam.