"I'd like to thank Hridayesh Arts; this is a great honour for me. I won my first national title here (in Mumbai) back in 1986... The first time I become world champion, there was a reception in the Governor's mansion to honour me. And that was one of the best memories I have," the five-time world chess champion said at the event.
Among the previous recipients of the award are the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Babasaheb Purandare, Asha Bhosle, Amitabh Bachchan, Hariprasad Chaurasia and AR Rahman.
"Anand is the greatest chess player India has produced till date. His greatness lies in the fact that he has inspired and encouraged many upcoming players in India and the world," Rao said.
The guest of honour for the ceremony was Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar while Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, too, attended the event. Khan remembered a chess match with Anand and said that was the only time he had enjoyed "losing" to anybody.
"I am one of his biggest fans... He is such an inspiration to young people across the country. At a time when we really need icons who believe in work and dedication, he is the one who stands out," Khan said. Born on December 11, 1969, Anand became India's first grandmaster in 1988.
He held the FIDE World Chess Championship title from 2000 to 2002 and became the undisputed world champion in 2007. Other sports personalities like D Prasad, Praveen Thipsey along with his wife Bhagyashree, Padmashree Anupama Gokhale, Raghunandan Gokhale, Dhanraj Pullay, Devendra Joshi, Kamesh Mehta and Parnali Dharia were also felicitated during the ceremony.