PM Modi’s visit: Tight security in Kanyakumari, tourists banned from Vivekananda Rock

Extensive security measures have been arranged in the seas too, surrounding Modi's meditation site. Photo: PTI

Kanyakumari: The coastal town, which usually gets busy on the last few days of the summer holidays, wore a deserted look on Friday. Vehicles have disappeared from the roads and people remained indoors; only police personnel could be seen everywhere. Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the iconic tourist destination for his three-day visit and a meditation session at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, as part of his usual exercise before the Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, the police are busy doing thorough background checks of the guests who have booked even at the hotels here. The police department is trying to ensure foolproof security measures in Kanyakumari in the light of Modi’s visit. Last month, PM Modi was at Kanyakumari for the election campaigns. Extensive security measures have been arranged in the seas too, surrounding the meditation site. The boats of the Indian Navy and the ships of the Coast Guard are patrolling the waters.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial
The memorial building was built in 1970, in honour of Swami Vivekananda who had sat on meditation for three days upon the rock. The social reformer is believed to have meditated here on December 23, 24 and 25, 1892 and attained enlightenment. The monk had requested the fishermen to ferry him to the rocks. However, he couldn’t afford the price that the fishermen had charged. So, Swami Vivekananda apparently swam across the seashore to the rock to meditate there. Former President Ramnath Kovind too had visited the Vivekananda Rock Memorial earlier. But, he was on an official visit and didn’t meditate here. There is also a legend that the rock bears the footprint of Goddess Kanyakumari Devi.

The memorial has three main structures – Sreepada Mandapam, Sabha Mandapam and Dhyana Mandapam. There is a meditation room with an Omakara figurine in the Dhyana Mandapam and six adjacent rooms. Meanwhile, the brass statue of Swami Vivekananda stands in the Sabha Mandapam, beside the spacious veranda and an open room. The Sreepada Mandapam consists of a Garbha Griha and two halls where you can see the portraits of Sharada Devi and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. PM Modi offered flowers at Swami Vivekananda’s statue and the portraits before meditation.

The Vivekananda Rock Memorial, designed by the renowned architect Eknath Ranade, is located in the sea on an island rock, amidst the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. Representative image/Shutterstock/satish solanki

Temporary bridge
The construction of the mirror bridge between the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Thiruvalluvar statue is progressing. The project built on a whopping Rs 37 crore budget is constructed as an alternative to the boat service. The boat service to the Thiruvalluvar statue often gets suspended when the seas get choppy due to bad weather. So, the Tamil Nadu government decided to build the bridge as an alternative. The construction of the bridge, which is 97 metres long and 4 metres wide, began on May 24. However, a temporary walking bridge was set up between the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Thiruvalluvar statue before the PM’s visit.

PM Modi lands an hour late
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived an hour late at Thiruvananthapuram than the original schedule. His aircraft had landed at the technical area of the Air Force station here. There wasn’t any official reception for the PM. As the weather was favourable, he soon began his journey to Kanyakumari on an IAF helicopter. Two other helicopters had accompanied PM Modi’s helicopter. Meanwhile, the Kerala police and Tamil Nadu police had made all the security arrangements in case the PM had to travel via road due to unfavourable weather. BJP workers weren’t spotted near the airport area. The tourists at the Sankhumugam beach were eagerly watching PM Modi’s helicopter ride. 

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