The Tiruvalluvar Statue is a 40.5 meter high monumental statue of the Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar (the author of the Tirukkural) off Kanyakumari at Cape Comorin, the southern tip of India, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The Tiruvalluvar statue was designed by the sculptor V. Ganapati Sthapati. It depicts Tiruvalluvar in a standing pose. In accordance with the usual Tiruvalluvar iconography, the poet is depicted as a sage with a beard and topknot. In his left hand he holds a palm leaf manuscript, his right hand is raised.
The upward pointing three middle fingers of the right hand symbolize the three books of Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural. The Tiruvalluvar statue has a height of 29 meters (95 feet) and stands on a pedestal 11.5 meters (38 feet) high. This gives a total height of the monument of 40.5 meters (133 feet), the height of which represents the 133 chapters of the Tirukkural.
The Tiruvalluvar statue is located on a small rocky island about 400 meters off Kanyakumari. Right next to it is a second island with the Vivekananda rock monument, a monument to the Hindu philosopher Vivekananda, who spent three days meditating here in 1892. From Kanyakumari there is a ferry connection to the Tiruvalluvar statue.
The Tiruvalluvar statue is a prestige project of the politician M. Karunanidhi, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. After the Vivekananda monument had been inaugurated in front of Kanyakumari in 1970, it seemed intolerable to Karunanidhi from a Tamil nationalist point of view that with Vivekananda a North Indian was given a monument in front of the southern tip of Tamil Nadu.
Therefore, in 1975, the Tamil Nadu government decided to erect an even larger monument to the poet Tiruvalluvar in front of Kanyakumari. Tiruvalluvar probably lived in the 5th or 6th century and composed the instructive verse collection Tirukkural, which is held in high esteem among Tamils.
The DMK in particular stylized Tiruvalluvar as an icon of Tamil cultural nationalism. M. Karunanidhi's first term in office also saw the construction of another great Tiruvalluvar monument, the Valluvar Kottam in Chennai.
After the Karunanidhi government was deposed in 1976, Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai did lay the foundation stone for the Tiruvalluvar monument at Kanyakumari in 1979, but the project stalled.
After Karunanidhi was re-elected to the office of Chief Minister, he approved new funds for the statue project in 1990 and actual work on the statue began. On October 19, 1999, the Tiruvalluvar statue was placed on its pedestal, and it was finally unveiled in a ceremony on January 1, 2000.