Vivekananda House (Vivekanandar Illam) Museum in Chennai

Vivekananda Statue in Vivekanandar illam chennai

“So long as even a single dog in my country is without food, my whole religion is to feed it and serve it. Anything excluding that, is un-religious”Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was perhaps the first English speaking saint who represented the East (particularly India) positively, and created a good impression of Indian scriptures, Advaita Vedanta and Yoga among westerners. Swami Vivekananda stayed at the Vivekananda House  from 6th February to 14th February, 1897 after his return from his first journey to the Western countries. The Vivekananda House (Or Ice House/ Vivekanandar Illam) is located on the main road facing the Marina Beach. Its quite close to Queen Mary’s Womens College.

Timings: 10 AM to 12 PM; 3 PM to 7:30 PM. Weekly Holiday: Wednesday

vivekananda house building at marina beachThe Vivekananda House is also called as Ice House because a Britisher used to have an Ice block storage facility here. But later, it was converted in to a residence where Swami Vivekananda stayed immediately after his visit from the West (en-route to Calcutta) and later on, it was given on a lease to Ramakrishna Missions by the TN Government to hold a permanent exhibition on life and works of Swami Vivekananda as well as to represent the cultural history of India.

vivekananda photo at vivekananda house chennaiThe life and times of Swami Vivekananda are represented using a lot of nice photos, each with a short description. The photo essay on his life, enables one to quickly grasp the important events of his life.

swami vivekananda photos in vivekananda house chennaiThere is a meditation hall in the room where Vivekananda stayed back then, and there is also an audio visual presentation on the life of Swami Vivekananda. The whole museum is arranged in to various rooms, each with a particular theme. There is even a room dedicated to the history of the Ice House.

Paintings at the Vivekananda House in ChennaiThere is a beautiful and extensive painting gallery which speaks about the important epics/ people in all major religions (founded in India). Some of the paintings even talk of the pre-religious days during which vedanta originated. Under every photo, there is a short description of the events/ people/ concepts etc.

Tiruvalluvar statue in the Vivekananda house in ChennaiThere is a section on Tamil literature (Like Silappadhikaram, Manimegalai, etc) where paintings from important events in these stories are kept with a short description below them. Tiruvalluvar is a great Tamil poet, and you can see his statue in the above photo.

vivekananda house paintings on Indian mythological storiesI have been to Marina beach many times, but never noticed this museum. Perhaps, I would have noticed – but didn’t know it was a museum! I have seen V.Illam/ Ice House to be an important Bus Stop/ Terminus for many busses in Chennai, but I never knew what it was! At least, I went there now 🙂

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18 thoughts on “Vivekananda House (Vivekanandar Illam) Museum in Chennai

    1. As long as I was in school, I thought history was a boring subject. But once I was out of it, I developed a special interest towards history! Such are the ways of life 🙂

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  1. Rajesh,

    Very nice description and beautiful picture. Put it this way, I would have never learnt about it otherwise.

    (PS:- I have email subscription to your posts and complete post appears in the email. Though it is good for reader, it does not motivate readers to put comments or discuss. Also in the email, the post does not come out well formatted. You might consider only sending some parts of the post in the emails)

    1. I have been thinking about it – But there are some readers who might want to read it from the email itself, without coming to the blog. Might be useful to them.

      Destination Infinity

      1. Yes. Some might prefer in the email but the post DOES NOT look good in email. Reading expeirence on your blog is much better :)))

  2. Another place you are pinpointing and I have not visited this place at all! I have seen the building from outside and as you said it is a famous bus stop!

    Must visit sometime! Nice pictures!

    You know what, I like Vivekananda very much and wanted to name my first son, Narendra (Vivekananda’s childhood name) but missed. My son says, ‘thank god, you didn’t name me Narendra, it rhymes with Dharmendra, your childhood idol’! But he doesn’t believe me if I said that it didn’t have any connection with Dharam Gharam at all! Really, I thought about Vivekananda at that time!

    1. Narendra is quite a general name – I was not reminded of Dharmendra when seeing it! So, I think others will also think it as normal 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  3. When I was a kid I used to have a book with quotations from Swami Vivekanada. He is not doubt a truly wise man and an intellectual. However he never claimed to be a godman, but he has been elevated to that status.

    1. In his own words, ‘What ever good has come out of me, its because of my Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and what ever bad has come out of me, its because of myself!’

      Destination Infinity

    1. Yeah, but it may not be on any tour itinerary, in spite of being so close to the Marina Beach.

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  4. A very informative article DI. The quotation with which you opened this entry was very hard hitting and thought provoking 🙂 It was an interesting read 🙂

    1. Some people think that he was a religious person. But he was more into philosophy than religion. Humanity came before than any religious rites for him.

      Destination Infinity

  5. The statue of Swami Vivekananda when erected and dedicated to the public in 1964 by Dr Radhakrishnan, President of India at that time, there was no head-dress . About 2009-10, the head-dress was introduced. Why this change of history? The statue represented Swamiji as a parivrajaka Sadhu with shaven head and stick which he was for a few years travelling across India.The statue represents renunciation par excellence. Now that renovation is going on, it is an opportunity for the organisers to revert to history. Let us not twist history to suit our fancy and modern civilisation.

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