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Saturday, January 30, 2010


As you travel by city transport corporation bus you would hear the conductor shout ‘icose’…. ‘aicose’  ~ ~  A popular Quiz Question is ‘ what is  the connection of Narendranath to Tudor ??’… !!!!

Narendranath Dutta was born on 12/1/1863 – he became the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He is best known as Swami Vivekananda – who introduced Vedanta & Yoga in Europe and America and is considered a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India. His inspiring speech at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893 beginning with "sisters and brothers of America" would ever be remembered.

Frederic Tudor (September 4, 1783 - February 6, 1864) was known as Boston's "Ice King", and was the founder of the Tudor Ice Company. During the early 19th Century, he made a fortune shipping ice to the Caribbean, Europe, and even as far away as India from sources of fresh water ice in New England. The Tudor Ice Company harvested ice in a number of New England ponds for export and distribution throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and India from 1826 to 1892.

Tudor ice was harvested at various places. It would be too difficult to comprehend that in the 1790s only the elite had ice for their guests. It was harvested locally in winter and stored through summers in a covered well. Ice production was very labor intensive as it was performed entirely with hand axes and saws, and cost hundreds of dollars a ton. In later years ice was used to preserve food and began a commodity.

Tudor built a house in Chennai for preservation of ice in 1842 and this came to be know as “Ice house”. A prosperous advocate of Madras High Court Mr Biligiri Iyengar bought this property and renamed it ‘Castle Kernan’ – a famous Justice. Apart from being his residential quarters, this house served as a shelter for poor and educationally backward students.

At Parliament of Religions

When Swami Vivekananda returned from Chicago, he was given a rousing reception and Biligiri Iyengar being a disciple of Swami offered the house for the stay of Swami in 1897. Swami Vivekananda was taken there in a grand procession, and stayed there from February 6 to 14, 1897 and delivered seven electrifying lectures.

Swami’s disciples set up a permanent centre and mission activities continued till 1906 at which point of time, the property changed hands. In 1917, Ice House was acquired by the Government of Madras as part of their social welfare scheme after which the house functioned as training school for women and a hostel for widows.

the building - Vivekananda House / Ice house

Ice House was named Vivekanandar Illam by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1963, the centenary year of Swami Vivekananda. On 6 February 1997, the Government handed over the Illam to Ramakrishna Math on lease to set up a permanent exhibition on Swami Vivekananda and the cultural heritage of India. The exhibition was opened to public on 20 December 1999.

A few years back there were reports that the Govt. was contemplating taking over the property perhaps for the Tamil Language centre. This was denied and subsequently it did come up in another place on the Beach road proximate to V House. The extended lease for 10 years was about to terminate and ending the uncertainty over the fate of the lease agreement of Vivekananda House, the Tamil Nadu cabinet recently approved the extension of the lease with the Ramakrishna Mission. The lease has been extended for another 10 years to 2020.

The Mutt authorities and followers of Swami Vivekananda are happy that the mutt activities could go unhindered for some more time. It is reported that the Mutt has so far spent nearly Rs 1 crore to renovate the building since it acquired possession, without altering the building’s architecture. A cultural exhibition is open to the public on all days here except Wednesday. Meditation and yoga classes are also held.

Happy to be in the land where Subrahmanya Barathi, Swami Vivekananda, Subramanya Siva, Tilak, VO Chidamabaram – Kappal ottiya thamizhan, C. Sathyamurthi and many eminent personalities resided /  visited.

A happy triplicanite
S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

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