Vivekanandar Illam

A few days ago, I’d posted on two land marks of Chennai, both facing different fates, now I’ve heard that the Vivekanandar Ilam, or the Ice House, is being renovated. This building which is being maintained by the Ramkrishna Mission is in sparkling condition. The Mission plans to install sculptures of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna in the building.

The building was built in 1842 by Fredric Tudor, an English merchant who used it for storing ice, and therefore the name Ice House. In 1880 after the ice business failed, an advocate, Biligiri Iyengar who named it ‘Castle Kernan’ and used it as a resident. After attending the World Conference of Religions in Chicago, Vivekananda stayed here from February 6th to 15th in 1897.the first branch of the Ramakrishna Mission was initiated at the basement of the house, with a statue of Ramkrishna being installed. In 1906 after the death of Biligiri Iyengar, the house came up for mortgage and was purchased by a zamindar for Rs 19,700. in 1917 the government acquired the house and converted it to a hostel for widows. From 1922 till 1941 it was a teacher’s training hostel. In 1963, the government renamed it Vivekanandar Illam and in 1997 it was given to the Ramkrishna mission on lease, and has been open to the public since 1999.

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