March 07, 2007
expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
The guest house in the palace of Raja of Ramnathapuram where the
momentous decision to go to United States of America was taken in October
After the Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886) left his mortal coil,
Swami Vivekananda started a padayatra in 1886 and reached Ramnathapuram in
1892 In Ramnad, he met Bhaskara Sethupathy, the Raja of Ramnad at his
Royal Palace, “Ramalinga Vilasam” and stayed there as the official guest
house of for eight days, which was called “Sankara Vilasam”, and the guest
house was earlier known as “Colonel Bungalow”, because, a British Colonel
Martinez who stayed there from 1790-1830. He lived there up to 70 years,
he died and entombed nearby in the CSI cemetery. The bungalow was in a
natural surrounding with trees and a big water tank on the backyard. The
royal tank was meant for the Raja’s family. For them, there was a secured
under ground level entrance with steps reaching down the water level.
This bungalow acquires historical significance, as initially, it was Raja
of Ramnad who had earlier decided to go to US to attend the Parliament of
religion. But after seeing and discussing with Swami Vivekananda, he
decided that Swamiji was the proper person to attend the conference. When
the Raja suggested, this to Vivekananda, he immediately did not agree to
the proposal. After staying in Ramnad, he proceeded to Kanyakumari and
reached there on December 24th, 1892. He requested the fishermen to take
him to the rock, but they refused, as they had become Christians by then
and said they had to celebrate Christmas; they would not take boats out.
So Swami Vivekananda reached the rock by swimming. He remained there for
two days and three nights meditating. In his trance, he got divine message
that he should attend the Parliament of religion at US. He came back and
wrote a letter to Raja of Ramnad expressing that now he was willing to
attend the conference adding that he was proceeding to Madras and from
there to Bombay. The Raja made all arrangements.
The bungalow with the surrounding land had been in possession of the Raja
family. After the Colonel’s demise, the Rajas used to worship Kali with
the sacrifice. When Sringeri 22 Pontiff visited the place, the Raja
expressed his desire of abandoning the sacrificial practice and follow
satvika worship. The great Pontiff advised him thus he stayed there for 48
days and performed Rajarajeswari Yagna and consecrating the place and a
golden Vigraha of the Goddess Rajarajeswari was installed within the
Palace-temple, which is still worshipped. Thus, the bungalow came to be
known as “Sankara vilasam”.
As the important decision of Swami Vivekananda should go to US and attend
the conference was taken there at the bungalow, it gets historical
significance, as otherwise, Swamiji would not have got such prominence.
Also it was a historic place form where the Hinduism became once again
When Vivekananda returned from US, he reached Colombo and from there, he
came to Danuskodi by a boat and from there to Pamban. When he was about to
land at Kundukal, Raja was waiting with his entourage to give him a royal
welcome there. Because of the achievement of Swamiji and as well as the
regard, the Raja had for him, he reverentially bowed his head and offered
it as step for Vivekananda to land from the boat as Vivekananda was coming
back to Mother land after five years. But, Swamiji tactfully avoided by
jumping from the boat on the land. Raja erected a Victory pillar of 25
feet height with the Upanishad expression “Satyameva Jayate”. Swamiji
recorded this in his letter to an American disciple. However, the pillar
disappeared 25 years ago, reportedly destroyed by the local fishermen.
After reaching Ramnad, Swamiji went to the same bungalow and gave lecture
nearby open place on the backs of the huge tank, which is known is
recorded in the Complete works of Swami Vivekananda.
But, such an important bungalow had been dilapidated and the Ramakrishna
Mission had not acquired even though it was more than 100 years since
Swami Vivekanada had landed there and lived there, where the momentous
decision was “drilled into the head” as per Vivekananda's own statement by
the Raja. The building remained in the custody of the Raja’s family, and
for want of funds, the surrounding land was sold to several individuals.
Even Ramakrishna Mission did not come forward to either maintain or buy it
to preserve it as ‘historical monument’. Under the circumstance, Viking S.
Karunanidhi, a rotatarian who has interest in history and in Vivekananda
to decided buy the land and construct his own house. He also purchased the
dilapidated bungalow and handed over it to the Ramakrishna Mutt, Karur.
Now, the Mutt has decided to construct a memorial, as old building the
“Sankara Vilasam” has been in dilapidated state and beyond reconstruction
or renovation which was purchased from the Raja’s family and given to the
Ramakrishna mutt, Karur and Mr.Karunanidhi also purchased some land and
gave it on cost price to the Karur Ramakrishna Mutt which is not
affiliated with the Ramakrishna mutt affiliated Ramakrishna Mutt
Thirupparaithurai. The process of transaction is over and the old building
that was beyond repair, was demolished, by the time when the author of
this paper reached the place and stated there for four days in January
2007, all that he could see were some photos of that historical building
looked like, and some remaining building material, rubble, old bricks some
200 years old and round stone pillars. He requested the ashram to keep
some of the relics from the old building, as they were associated with the
life of Swami Vivekananda as A new memorial is coming up fast. This
building and memorial would be known as “Vivekananda Bhaskaram” after
completion of construction with Rs. 40 lakhs and is likely to be
inaugurated in May 20 2007. So far Rupees 20 lakhs has been collected as
donations and the remaining amount is yet to be realized and the in charge
Sri Nagarajan Brahmachari informed that donations are welcome at the
following address that would help to complete the building.
Now, authorities are spending on the British period colonial dilapidated
buildings spending crores from exchequer, e.g, the Victory memorial hall
situated inside the University buildings, Chennai. But, historically
important monuments like Col. Martins this are neglected. The attitude of
the Government is also intriguing, because, in the case of Ice-house
building, though, where Swami Vivekananda stayed in Madras when visited
the city , initially decided to demolish, because of Vivekananda
association, it was spared and handed over to Ramakrishna Mutt and the
Mutt has renovated and been maintaining as a memorial cum exhibition
centre. However, in the case of “Sankara Vilasam”, it is unfortunate that
it was allowed to be demolished, as though a new memorial is built,
historically, it cannot be equated with the original monument.
The author wished to thank Viking MS Karunananidhi and Brahmachari
Address where donations are welcome
NO 1, ARANMANAI STREET,
PHONE 04567 -22819
1. The life of swami Vivekananda by his eastern and western disciples
2. The complete works of Swami Vivekananda
3. New Discoveries
©. G.P. Srinivasan Feb 2007 Article and Photos.
Send your views to author
Do you wish to reach our readers?
your guest column
Copyright and Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and not of this
website. The author is solely responsible for the contents of this
article. This website does not represent or endorse the accuracy,
completeness or reliability of any opinion, statement, appeal, advice or
any other information in the article. Our readers are free to forward this
page URL to anyone. This column may NOT be transmitted or distributed by
others in any manner whatsoever (other than forwarding or web listing page
URL) without the prior permission from
us and the author.
Previous articles by:
"Da Vinci Code" - A Vatican Conspiracy!
All articles by: