After wasting the first Saturday doing nothing, I was determined to make the most of the Sunday. I pondered on the place from where I would start my exploration of Gujarat and soon, Sabarmati ashram became the obvious choice. Google searches and reading few blogs suggested the time just before sunset to be ideal. I booked an OLA auto and reached Sabarmati ashram around 4:15 PM.
Sabarmati ashram was the residence of Mahatma Gandhi who stayed here along with his wife for 12 years. It is from this place that the Gandhiji started his famous Dandi march on 12 March 1930 to break the atrocious salt law imposed by the British. In the story of our independence, there are very few places more iconic than the Sabarmati ashram. Owing to its extraordinary historical significance, Sabarmati Ashram was declared a national monument by the Government of India.
The ashram is located between a jail and a crematorium and according to Gandhiji, the place was ideal for a satyagrahi to search for truth and develop fearlessness. The ashram premises has many small huts. The most prominent is the Hridaya Kunj, the hut where Gandhiji and his wife Kasturba Gandhi resided. The hut has several rooms – Kasturba’s room, Gandhiji’s room, the kitchen, a storeroom and a small, open courtyard in the center.
There is a room where Gandhiji used to meet his visitors. This room is a historic place as many crucial decisions regarding the independence movement had been taken in this room. In this room, Gandhiji’s desk and his charkha are on display. In the kitchen area, there is a showcase which has replicas (few are original) of items used by Gandhiji like his spectacles, the crockery items used by him, his wooden footwear, etc.
Then there is the Vinoba-Mira Kutir, the hut where Vinoba Bhave and later Madeleine Slade, a British Admiral’s daughter devoted to Gandhian ideology resided. Gandhiji affectionately called Madeleine Mira.
In the far corner is the hut of Maganlal Gandhi, one of the prominent followers of Gandhiji. This hut is known as the Magan Niwas and is now converted into a gallery which houses various types of hand spun charkhas, early mechanical looms, many antic photographs of Gandhiji in the ashram and few of his hand written letters.
The “My Life is my Message” gallery has over 250 photographs covering Gandhiji’s life from his birth in Porbandar, his studies, struggles in South Africa, his role in the Indian independence movement and finally his assassination. These photographs along with the relevant quotes provides a vivid insight into the life of Gandhiji.
The other notable places are the books and souvenir gallery, the paintings gallery where there are 8 magnificent paintings of Gandhiji in various poses and the Prarthna Bhoomi or the Upasana Mandir, the open ground where prayers were held in the morning and evening. There is the Vinay Mandir, a primary school run by the Harijan Ashram Trust.
Amidst the hustle created by the visitors, in the lawn, there is a statue of Gandhiji in a meditation posture replicating the man himself – calm, composed and serene.
Recently with efforts of the state government, the once toxic Sabarmati river has been rejuvenated and the Sabarmati riverfront project has been undertaken to beautify the banks of the river. The river bank in front of the Sabarmati Ashram has benefited from the project and the place now offers an added attraction to the ashram.
As a history buff, Sabarmati Ashram is a perfect start to my Gujarat sojourn. I hope you liked this post. Please share your feedback in the comments section below. Do stay connected.
“Forsake not truth even unto death” – MK Gandhi