Chennai has many memorial houses where famous personalities had once lived. In the past few weeks, I have been to two of them – Thiru Subramanya Bharathiyar House, Triplicane and Dr MGR Memorial House, T.Nagar. This week I went to Kamarajar Memorial House, T.Nagar (பெருந்தலைவர் காமராஜர் நினைவு இல்லம்). It is one of many two storey bungalows that used be in this part of Madras, built around the early 20th century. This house that Kamarajar had lived during his decades in Chennai was rented by him, after his death Tamil Nadu Government had bought the house from the owner and made it as a museum for the public.
Bharat Ratna Thiru K Kamaraj was a leader of Indian National Congress, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for nearly a decade (1954-1963), and a member of Parliament. Known for his simplicity and integrity, Thiru K Kamaraj was often referred as kingmaker in Indian Politics. Such was his integrity in politics, even today people of the state nostalgically recall him when they speak about honesty in public offices. He is known for his mid-day meal scheme for school students, building many dams and for creating industries in the state. To know more about him, watch this biopic on him made in Tamil (with English subtitles) – Kamaraj (2004).
When I visited the memorial house today, there were no other visitors, except for a lone policewoman on duty. I was able to unhurriedly see the exhibits, photographs, and his personal belongings which were a few. The house is maintained in the same condition it would’ve been when Kamarajar died in 1975. The display boards and cleanliness could be improved a lot. It is open from 9 AM to 6 PM every day and entry is free. Seeing the whole place will take you about 30 minutes or less.
I am surprised to find the exhibits of hundreds of scissors and trowels that seem to have been presented to him during the inauguration and foundation stone events he attended – but why were these collected by a man who never wished for personal possessions, I am sure there is a background story for this, need to look for it.
Sometime soon I plan to visit the other memorials in the city – I have been to Anna and MGR Memorials in Marina a few times, sadly there are two more that got added recently for Dr J Jayalalitha and Dr Kalaignar Karunanidhi, and, then there is Gandhi Mandapam & Rajaji Memorial near Raj Bhavan.