Chennai: Veda Nilayam, the magnificent palatial bungalow in upscale Poes Garden where J. Jayalalithaa lived for nearly 50 years, is back in the limelight, this time for a noble reason.
The sprawling mansion, which will be converted into a memorial of its high-profile owner who ruled Tamil Nadu's political arena for nearly three decades, will now welcome millions of people from across the country to give a glimpse of how the heroine-turned-politician lived in opulence and solitude and at the same time, the contrast with which the late Jayalalithaa was identified all long her life.
Though Deepa and Deepak — the children of Jayalalithaa's only brother Jayakumar — are entitled to inherit the property since they are the only surviving legal heirs of the late leader, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday decided to convert into a world-class memorial for Jayalalithaa, who died on December 5, 2016.
The bungalow, whose value is nearly Rs 90 crore as on date, was purchased by Jayalalithaa's mother Sandhya for a mere Rs 1.32 lakh in 1967 when both were in the glamorous film world which Jayalalithaa eventually ruled like an empress till she joined the politics under the tutelage of her mentor M. G. Ramachandran in 1982.
Wherever she was, Jayalalithaa's heart was always in the Poes Garden bungalow and AIADMK insiders recall how the former chief minister was so desperate to leave the Apollo Hospitals ICU and get back to her home when she had recovered from her illness.
“Though she owned bungalows in Siruthavur and Kodanad, which are much bigger in size, she always loved staying in Poes Garden. We heard that she used to constantly ask Sasikala on when would she return to Poes Garden from Apollo. Her heart was always in the Poes Garden and she had an emotional attachment to the property,” an AIADMK insider told DC.
For lakhs of AIADMK cadres and public, it is not just another property but symbol of power and “living monument” since Jayalalithaa spent most part of her life — nearly four decades — in the house. Immediately after her death, there were demands from several quarters that the bungalow should be converted into a memorial for Jayalalithaa and former chief minister O. Panneerselvam jumped on the bandwagon in February after the “Mannargudi family” booted him out from the AIADMK. 19, Veda Nilayam, as the name plate screams was symbol of power in TN since 1987 when Jayalalithaa was thrust into active politics after MGR's death, has been vacant ever since V K Sasikala was jailed in February this year.
Though Sandhya had bought only the front portion of the mansion, her daughter Jayalalithaa expanded the bungalow by acquiring the nearby properties as her political graph arose rapidly. Many leaders and journalists who had visited Poes Garden for more than three decades say it is a “paradise on earth” and only a few were allowed on the first floor where Jayalalithaa's bedroom was located.
“The most magnificent thing about the sprawling bungalow is the library that Jayalalithaa used extensively. For a private collection of books, the library is no less than magnificent. Jayalalithaa spent most of her time in the library when she was at her home since she was an voracious reader,” a senior journalist said.