Vivekananda House (earlier known as Ice House or Castle Kernan) is an important place for the Ramakrishna Movement in South India. Swami Vivekananda came to Chennai (then Madras) in February 1897, and he stayed at Castle Kernan for nine days. During his nine day stay, he shook India’s national consciousness through his fiery lectures at Chennai. Later, Ramakrishna Math (Monastery) Chennai was founded by Swami Ramakrishnananda, a brother disciple of Swami Vivekananda. The Math functioned from here during its first 10 years (1897-1906) till it moved to the current location at Mylapore, Chennai.
In 1963, during the Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda, the Government of Tamil Nadu renamed the Castle Kernan as Vivekanandar Illam (Illam means house in Tamil) or ‘Vivekananda House’. In 1997, on the eve of the Centenary of Swamiji’s return to India (and his stay at the then Ice House), the Government of Tamilnadu at the request of the Ramakrishna Math, leased out the Vivekananda House initially for 10 years which has subsequently been extended to 99 Years. Vivekananda House now houses a Permanent Exhibition on Indian Culture and Swamiji’s Life, maintained by the Ramakrishna Math and is a source of inspiration to thousands of people who visit this historical place.