Mahatma Gandhi: Home, Ashrams, Palace Prison, Museums
If Mahatma Gandhi was to take you on a trip to the significant places from his life, where all would he take you? His travels were extensive. If he was living in the age of social media, he would easily earn the tag of – Most Traveled Person. No matter where you go in India, you find a bit of him, some memory of his visit, some talk, some stop at the railway station or some meeting. It would be a mammoth task to visit all the places he visited.
The biggest evidence of his omnipotent presence in India is the Mahatma Gandhi roads. I wonder if there is any city that does not have an MG road. At places, the roads may be better known by another name but their official name is Mahatma Gandhi road.
Gandhi Jayanthi – Visit his footprints across India
So, come with me for a tour of places in India associated with Gandhiji.
Gujarat is the home state of Mahatma Gandhi. He spent his childhood here and established his ashram here. So, there are a lot of places associated with him in Gujarat.
Porbandar is a port town in Saurashtra part of Gujarat. Today it is best known for being the birthplace of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. His ancestral home is now open to the public. You can visit the huge house in white and green. You see not just the room where he was born but also how the aristocratic houses of yesteryears used to be.
Next to the house, is a huge temple called Kirti Mandir dedicated to Gandhiji and Kasturba. There is a gallery that depicts the life of Gandhi through a mélange of photographs from his childhood to his dhoti clad days of Mahatma. These images also tell you the story of the times Gandhi lived in.
Kasturba’s ancestral home is just behind Gandhi’s home.
Not many people know that Porbandar is also the village of Sri Krishna’s friend Sudama.
Gandhi spent his childhood in Rajkot where his father was appointed a Diwan. This is where he did his early education.
From here he went to London to study law. He came back briefly before proceeding to South Africa where he spent good 21 years. He came to India in 1915 CE.
I am yet to visit Rajkot. Will update this section as and when I visit.
Satyagraha Ashram Kochrab
The first place where Gandhi’s lived after they returned to India in 1915 CE was in a bungalow of Barrister Jivanlal Desai in Kochrab in Ahmedabad. It is a fairly large house on two floors with a large ground attached to it. This is now called Satyagraha Ashram but acts more like a museum with a library dedicated to Gandhian literature.
The Sabarmati ashram is probably the best known and most visited place associated with Gandhiji. Built on the banks of Sabarmati river, which would have been on outskirts of Ahmedabad when it was built, but now almost within it. Every part of this spartan ashram recalls Gandhi, where he lived from 1917 to 1930. The walls quote him.
Gandhiji’s famous Dandi March or Salt March began from this very Ashram in 1930. The museum here was built by architect Charles Correa in 1960s. You must listen to the bhajans that are sung here in the morning and evening.
This was a university established by Gandhiji in 1920 as Rashtriya Vidyapeeth and he served as its chancellor throughout his life. You can visit the university that is close to Satyagrah ashram in Kochrab. I loved its bookshop that had such a lovely collection of Indian books.
Gandhi places in Maharashtra
Maganwadi Ashram, Wardha
Post-1930 Gandhiji established an ashram in Wardha. It was named after rural scientist and his friend Magan Gandhi. All India Village Industries Association was found here to promote the rural and small scale industries.
Magan Sangrahalay in this campus consists of sections on Khadi and other rural industries. In a way, you can call it the first entrepreneurship of modern India.
Mani Bhavan, Mumbai
Gandhiji probably traveled more than most of us can imagine. In Mumbai, the bungalow of Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri became his home. From here, he led the Quit India movement at August Kranti Maidan in 1942 and agitation against Rowlett Act.
Mani Bhavan is a lovely museum now with a library, images, and artifacts associated with Gandhi. A gallery of dioramas recreates his life for the visitor.
Aga Khan Palace, Pune
Aga Khan palace was the prison of Gandhi. He lived here with his wife, secretary, and Sarojini Naidu. His wife and secretary died here and their samadhis are right here on the campus.
What was once a palace built by Aga Khan is now a museum dedicated to Mahatma. This is a huge palace and a rather modern one. Honestly, when you stroll in its lawns, you wonder if this how prisons are.
Gandhi Places in Delhi
Gandhi Smriti or Birla House Delhi
Located on Tees Janvari marg in New Delhi, this is where Gandhiji spent the last 144 days of his life. This is where he breathed his last saying ‘Hey Ram’. This belonged to Birla family and was built by Ghanshyamdas Birla in 1928. The family was reluctant to give up the property but they did give it up in 1973. It now has a multimedia museum dedicated to him.
Samadhi is the last place associated with him. It is simple and surrounded by sprawling lawns. Most of us have seen it mostly on television whenever the dignitaries visit it. It is quite a popular tourist spot in Delhi.
Mahatma Gandhi Memorials in Rest of India
Gandhi Sangrahalay, Motihari, Bihar
Champaran satyagraha in 1917 CE was a milestone in his journey when he led the first agitation against the forced Indigo plantation by the British Government. Gandhi Sangrahaly in Motihari town celebrates the same with images. A Gandhian memorial pillar stands at the place where Gandhiji was presented in court.
Gandhi Memorial Mandapam, Kanyakumari
Right next to Kanyakumari temple on the seashore stands a memorial to Gandhiji. It commemorates his two visits to the place in 1925 and 1937. After his death, a part of his ashes was kept here for public darshan before they were immersed in the sea.
Built-in 1956, It is designed in a way that on 2nd Oct, the rays of sun fall exactly where his ashes were kept. There is a small hole in the roof that enables it. 79 feet height represents the 79 years of Gandhi’s life.
Gandhi Museum, Madurai
Madurai is where Gandhiji gave up his usual attire and took up the single Dhoti avatar for the rest of his life. The place commemorates him with Gandhi museum that has a piece of the blood-stained cloth that Gandhiji was wearing when he died. The museum has an audiovisual library celebrating the Mahatma.
All the places associated with him like Sabarmati Ashram, Mani Bhavan, Satyagrah Ashram, Birla Bhawan have his room depicted in an identical manner. A spartan room with his spinning wheel, his khadaoon or wooden footwear, his famous round-rimmed spectacles, and some books. I wonder if it was always like this, or someone copied a template for each museum.
I am yet to visit South Africa but hope to see his heritage there too sometime.
Do you know of any other place associated with Mahatma Gandhi to travel in India?
- ^ Porbandar – the city of Gandhi & Sudama (www.inditales.com)
- ^ Satyagrah Ashram in Kochrab (www.inditales.com)
- ^ Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad (www.inditales.com)
- ^ ashram in Wardha (www.gandhifootprints.org)
- ^ Mani Bhavan in Mumbai (www.inditales.com)
- ^ Aga Khan Palace in Pune (www.inditales.com)
- ^ Animal Farm and 1984 (amzn.to)
- ^ Kanyakumari (www.inditales.com)
- ^ Gandhi museum (maduraitourism.co.in)
- ^ places associated with him (gandhimuseum.org)