September 19, 2016
Thanjavur: The Mullivaikkal Memorial (Mullivaikkal Ninaivu Mutram), erected by the World Tamil Confederation at Vilar village near Thanjavur, has turned into a hot tourist place, attracting a considerable number of domestic and foreign tourists every day.
The memorial was built in memory of the civilians and militants killed during the ethnic war in Sri Lanka.
“At least of 500 persons visit the memorial daily on working days. Not less than 1,000 persons visit the memorial on Saturdays and Sundays”, sources said.
Besides the Eelam Tamils living abroad, Americans, Africans and Kenyans too make it a point to visit the memorial when they visit Thanjavur Big Temple. North Indians, particularly a considerable number of tourists from West Bengal, visit the memorial every year, sources said. Most of the domestic tourists visiting the memorial are youths between the ages of 18 and 35. It includes a considerable number of women.
So, what makes this reminder of a gruesome war a popular tourist spot?
According to 20-year-old Amali Infanta, residing at Thiruvaiyaru and studying BA (English Literature) in a local college in Thanjavur, every one whose mother tongue is Tamil should visit the memorial at least once in their lifetime.
“The martyrs have laid down their lives fighting the oppressors (Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan army). We should salute their valour and sacrifice by visiting this memorial,” she said. Her college mate, K. Bhuvaneswari, also endorses this view.
53-year-old MS Mani has come along with his family, all the way from Thiruthuraipoondi in Tiruvarur district, to visit the memorial. “Visiting this memorial is a way of saluting the martyrs who have laid down their precious lives for the sake of all other Tamils,” he said.
The memorial was hurriedly unveiled by the Confederation’s president P Nedumaran, on November 6, 2013, just two days prior to the scheduled date of inauguration, to avoid any troubles from the then Central Government. Later, a three-day function was held from November 8 in this connection.
King Raja Raja Cholan built the Big Temple in Thanjavur as a symbol of Tamil valour. But, the Mullivaikkal martyrs memorial yard has been constructed in Thanjavur as a sad reminder of the tragedy and sufferings of the Tamils, Nedumaran, on the occasion of the unveiling of the memorial, said.
A beautiful stone sculpture of Mother Tamil, weighing 40 tons, decorates the central part of the memorial. The memorial is also home to photographs of the Tamil freedom fighters who opposed the British rule, portraits of linguistic martyrs and Eelam Tamils who lost their lives in the ethnic war in Sri Lanka.
Each sculpture in the memorial depicts the untold misery and pain that the Tamils underwent during the final stages of the ethnic war when human rights were abused and war crimes were committed by the Sri Lankan army. The sculptures show heart-breaking images of wailing mothers, broken limbs, guns, and strewn corpses.