Independence to India didn’t come overnight. It took innumerable freedom strugglers and leaders who fought to gain it while also losing their lives.
One of the most prominent figures of the freedom struggle, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fondly addressed as Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu, was born in Gujarat on 2nd October 1869. Much of Gandhi’s lifetime was spent travelling throughout the nation or imprisoned in British jails. Few of his ashrams and memorials commemorative of chapters of his life have been preserved in his remembrance.
This year, as we celebrate 150 years of birth of this one man who was instrumental in driving the British out of the country and gaining independence or ‘Purna Swarajya’, here is his journey through some museums and memorials:
Kirti Mandir, Porbandar
Kirti Mandir, a memorial house at Porbandar was completed in 1950 to mark the birthplace of Bapu. Inaugurated by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the Kirti Mandir is a 79-feet-high complex housing a museum and library besides the ancestral three-storied haveli where Gandhi was born. The architecture of the complex integrates styles from six religions in accordance with Gandhi’s beliefs.
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Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
Upon his return from South Africa, Gandhi established Satyagrah ashram at Kochrab but with growing activities and followers, the ashram was shifted to the banks of Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad in 1917. Sabarmati Ashram or Harijan Ashram was home to Gandhi and his philosophies from 1917 to 1930. It was here that many ‘satyagrah’ resistances took shape. Sabarmati Ashram now functions as a museum of Gandhi’s ideologies. Three galleries with oil paintings, photographs and paraphernalia from freedom struggle provide glimpses of his life.
Dandi Kutir, Gandhinagar
Not far from Ahmedabad is its twin, the planned city of Gandhinagar, capital of Gujarat, established in Gandhi’s memory. A recent addition to the city is Dandi Kutir, a one of its kind museum dedicated to the journey of Gandhi from his birth till independence. This modern museum is designed to resemble a gigantic salt mound to commemorate the ‘salt satyagrah’ or Dandi March- the march against the British monopoly and salt laws culminated at shores of Dandi where Gandhi made salt from sea water.
Another memorial dedicated to Dandi March, the National Salt Satyagrah Memorial at Dandi was inaugurated on Gandhi’s death anniversary- 30th January 2019.
Yerawada Jail, Pune
The salt satyagrah led to Gandhi’s arrest from Dandi who was scuttled away to Pune, Maharashtra and jailed at Yerawada, one of the largest prisons in South Asia. Built by British in 1871, it is here in Yerawada Jail that Gandhi wrote part of his autobiography “The Stories of My Experiment with Truth”. Gandhi was released from jail in 1931. The jail conducts a programme for inmates where they are taught Gandhian Principles.
Mani Bhavan, Mumbai
The struggle for freedom took Gandhi across the country. In Mumbai, his friend Revashankar Jhaveri offered his mansion Mani Bhavan to function as the centre of all work associated with fight for independence. The mansion buzzed with activity from 1917 to 1934. It was from here that the Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements were initiated by Gandhi. The mansion houses a museum and library. The terrace where Gandhi was arrested in 1932 and his room are open for visitors.
Aga Khan Palace, Pune
While Gandhi spent much time in and out of various prisons, it was during the Quit India Movement in 1942 that he along with his wife and close advisor Mahadev Desai were interred in Aga Khan Palace, Pune, on house arrest. It was in this palace that Gandhi’s wife Kasturba and secretary advisor Desai breathed their last. The majestic palace has in its complex samadhis of Kasturba and Desai along with a memorial where Gandhi’s ashes are preserved.
Before beginning the salt satyagrah in March 1930, Gandhi vowed to not return to Sabarmati Ashram until the country was free and independent. Post his release from jail, Gandhi moved to Segaon near Wardha renaming the village as Sevagram ‘the village of service’. The spread of Sevagram Gandhi Ashram has huts of Gandhi, Kasturba, prayer and meeting hall, his secretary Desai’s hut, guest rooms and a well laid garden.
Rajghat, New Delhi
Rajghat is a memorial on the banks of River Yamuna, for the man that Gandhi was, the Mahatma. A black marble platform, open to sky with an eternal burning flame marks the place where Gandhi was cremated on 31st January, a day after his assassination.
Mahatma Gandhi breathed his last after being shot at by Nathuram Godse while embarking on a prayer meeting on 30th January 1948.