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In the footsteps of the Mahatma

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This Gandhi Jayanthi, pay your homage to the Father of the Nation by taking a trip to some of the places that were part of his eventful life.

Come October 2nd and there is a Gandhian wave of sorts. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi born in 1869 at Porbandar needs no introduction. The face of India’s freedom movement, the Mahatma or Great Soul as he was known fought for independence with a non-violent stand that endeared him to everyone around him not just when he was alive but even today 70 years after he passed (on January 30, 1948). A pioneer whose thoughts and philosophies were far ahead of his time his quote ‘be the change you want to see’ could not be more relevant than today. Gandhiji’s birthday is also the International day of Nonviolence and even as a child he preferred solitary walks over anything else children liked doing. After studying law, he went to South Africa where he spent 21 years and it was here that he formed all his political and ethical views. His role in India’s freedom struggle started in 1915 and he was the face of the Khilafat movement, Non-cooperation movement and the famed Salt March or the salt Satyagraha. His repertoire of writings, philosophy, teachings and belongings can actually be seen and experienced across India across several museums and memorials. Here are some places that are an ode to the man who deservedly is the Father of the Nation.

Kirti Mandir, Porbandar

What better way to start at the place where Gandhiji was born than head to the beautiful blue hued three storied haveli where he was born. A courtyard leas you inside this ancestral home that has an old architecture complete with a sturdy wooden door and a roof made from wooden beams and brick tiles. The first floor has the kitchen and parents’ bedroom and Gandhiji’s study is on the next floor. There are 22 rooms in all here that house a library with over 20000 books, many of which are written by him, a prayer hall, a spinning hall that trains economically weak people a nursery for children as well as museum that has a family tree of Gandhiji as well as some rare pictures of his childhood. The temple has 79 lamps indicating the number of years Gandhiji lived his eventful life. Do stop by to admire the paintings of Vishnu made by Gandhiji’s father when you are here. The temple complex has a planetarium where astronomy shows are held on a regular basis. Do check the panel of photographs that celebrates many of the historic events in the country here. Also visit the Navi Khadi adjacent to the Kirti Mandir the place where Kasturba Gandhi was born.

Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad

The nerve center of India’s freedom struggle and in a sense the foundation where Gandhiji formulated his philosophies of truth and non-violence, Sabarmati ashram is located on the banks of the Sabarmati river 5 km away from the city center of Ahmedabad. While the ashram was started in 1915 at the Kocharab Bungalow of Jivanlal Desai, it was shifted in 1917 to its current premises. This was because Gandhiji wanted a barren space where he could experiment with khadi, farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding and other constructive activities. The Ashram now has the Gandhi Samarak Sangralaya and has a whopping 34065 original letters to and from Gandhiji. You can also see some of his personal relics at Hridaya Kunj which was the original residence of Gandhi and also check out the extensive library that has over 21500 books that will get you up close with the life and times of the Mahatma.

Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Located in a quiet lane in Gamdevi in Mumbai, Mani Bhavan is a two storied building that was Gandhiji’s home for close to 17 years between 1917 and 1934. This was the home of Gandhiji’s friend Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri and this is where he propagated causes like unity of Hindu-Muslim, Swadeshi and Khadi. Being a memorial since 1955, this is where you can visit a museum, see photographs of his life and also read books in the library that has over 40000 books and periodicals. The first floor has an auditorium where films on Gandhiji are screened and you can also listen to his voice on request – they have recordings of his speech too. You can also see his living room on the second floor that has been preserved in its original form. You can also see an interesting exhibit of mini figures of Gandhiji that depicts his life. Do take a look at the Picture Gallery where you can see documents, posters significant letters and articles written by Gandhiji himself. Do take a look at the terrace where Gandhiji would sleep and also hold prayer sessions.

Anasakti Ashram, Kausani

Located in the quaint town of Kausani in Uttarakhand, Anasakti Ashram or Gandhi Ashram is the place where Gandhi stayed for two weeks in 1929. This place is so scenic that Gandhiji described it as the Switzerland of India. Incidentally, this is the location where he wrote on and practiced Anasakti Yoga. The ashram is a kilometer away from Kausani’s main bus stand. A small prayer room is part of the ashram and regular prayers are held in the morning and evening. The walls of the small museum here have many of Gandhiji’s words and photographs of his stay here. Today it is a research and study center and has an accommodation facility with 24 rooms that also have library and kitchen facilities. The facilities are basic and the food is vegetarian and the whole idea is to experience Gandhiji’s simple living lifestyle. Also called Geeta Anasakti Yog, this ashram was built by Gandhiji’s ardent disciple Sarla Ben. Being a place where one can learn, there are several rules here that need to be followed include a strict discipline code and no usage of plastic. The scenic surroundings are the best place to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset and being amidst the Himalayas this place is the best to meditate. There are no guides here so you can explore the place on your own.

Aga Khan Palace, Pune

A pristine white structure with lush green lawns and arches, the Aga Khan palace in Pune is the place where Gandhiji, Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai (his secretary) were imprisoned post the Quit India campaign in 1942. This is where Kasturba and Mahadevbhai died and a National Memorial with photos and paintings exhibiting Gandhiji’s life is housed here. Located 2 km away from Bund Garden in Yerwada Prince Karim Aga Khan donated the Palace to the Gandhi Samarak Samiti in 1972. Gandhiji was kept here for 21 months and the film “Gandhi” was widely shot on location here. You can see Gandhiji’s writing desk, bed, Kasturba’s sari, clothes and footwear that have been well preserved here. Old photographs of the independence movement can be seen on the walls here. Marble memorials of Kasturba and Mahatma designed architect Charles Correa are on the premises that was declared as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2003. Free training in embroidery, candle making and chalk making is conducted regularly.

Gandhi Smriti or Birla Bhavan, New Delhi

Located on Tees January Road in New Delhi, this is where Gandhiji spent the last 144 days of his life. This place is home to one of the largest museums dedicated to the Mahatma and also has small doll houses depicting his life, some of his personal belongings and a collection of over 6000 original pictures. A 30 minute multimedia show on Gandhiji’s life is held every day at 1:00 pm so you can time your visit accordingly. The in house library has around 60000 books and the surrounding bookshops sell books of Gandhi too. The prayer ground here is the spot where he was assassinated and attracts thousands of visitors every day. Gandhi Darshan is located close to the Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat. The Spinning Wheel Gallery, Martyrdom Gallery, The Entrance Gallery, Art Gallery and Ashram Gallery are important aspects of this space.

Other Places

  • Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai built in 1959, this is where you can see part of the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhiji when he was assassinated.
  • Gandhi Museum, Barackpore, West Bengal showcases artefacts that are a testament to Gandhiji’s relationship with Bengal and its people and his love for them.
  • Gandhi Samarak Sangralaya, Patna is a three room museum that has a Satyagraha Bhawan that has a display of charkhas and tools used by farmers
  • Dandi Kutir, Gandhinagar is a three-storied museum that opened in 2015 and has a cable-stayed bridge and 79 iconic sculpture and artworks.
  • Gandhi Bhavan in Bangalore has many records from the visit of the Mahatma in 1934 when he came to collect funds for the ‘Harijan Fund’.
  • Kasturba Gandhi memorial trust and Gram Seva Vikas Vidyalaya in Assam were inagurated by Gandhiji. He elucidated the importance and the need for Khadi work here.
  • Mahatma Gandhi digital museum in Hyderabad uses technology to display the works of the Mahatma.

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