Remembering the Mahatma

Museums, ashrams and memorials dedicated to the Mahatma Gandhi around the country.Mahatma Gandhi's experiments with truth and non-violence and his philosophies of Satyagraha made him a stalwart and one of the greatest leaders of all times. On October 2, his birth anniversary we dig into the various monuments, memorials and museums in India that keep alive the legacy of the Father of the Nation. 

National Gandhi Museum and Library, Delhi
A treasure trove of all things related to Gandhiji, this museum plays a key role in promoting and propagating the life, work and philosophy of the father of the Nation. With the aid of paintings, photographs, visual arts, manuscripts and several of his personal possessions, the museum has tried to keep the essence of Gandhi intact. For those who love to read and research, there's a well-stocked library that has nearly 40,000 books, many of his letters and magazines. Occasionally the museum organises seminars, conferences, exhibitions and film shows on the life of Gandhiji.


Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai
One of the five Gandhi Sangrahalayas, this museum is noted for its special exhibition titled 'India Fights for Freedom', which depicts 265 illustrations that eloquently tell the history of the country's freedom movement and various revolts. A visual biography of Gandhiji, featuring his pictures, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, quotations and selected copies of letters written by him, gives a deeper insight into the life of the Mahatma. Photographs from different phases of Gandhiji's life are also displayed, along with a range of artefacts used by him. It displays letters written by Gandhiji to personalities such as Adolf Hitler, Narayanan Sathsangi of Devakotta and poet Subramania Bharati. This museum is an ideal site to learn more about the life of the man who left an indelible impression on the mind of mankind.


Mani Bhavan, Mumbai
Mani Bhavan is a museum and a research centre that houses a library, a picture gallery and memorabilia related to the freedom movement. Between 1917 and 1934, it was the focal point of the political activities of Mahatma Gandhi. It was in Mani Bhavan that Gandhiji started his association with the charkha or the spinning wheel. Interestingly, the initiations of noted agitations like the Civil Disobedience, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements took place in this building. A walk through its exalted corridors takes us back to the political struggles held during the Indian freedom movement. The photo section in the museum has a lot of information and can be an invaluable guide for those interested in revisiting the history of India.


Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad
Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram was the centre of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle against the British for the independence of India. His aura still lingers here and one can travel back in time to get a sense of his ideology and remarkable life. Documents related to his non-violence movement, including the Dandi March, which began from here, have been put on display at the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya (museum). There is a library for literature on Gandhi that holds an immense archive of letters written by him, most of them on used paper scraps. The ashram shares land with Hridaykunj — the quarters where he lived; Vinoba-Mira Kutir, a guest house, a prayer land and a building used as a training centre for cottage industries. At this ashram, Gandhiji tried his hand at farming, learnt the art of spinning and weaving, and led the production of khadi. Nearby is the Environmental Sanitation Institute and a shop, Kalam Kush, where handmade paper is manufactured and sold. There are khadi stores and a khadi weaving workshop here as well.


Aga Khan Palace/ Gandhi National Memorial, Pune
Occupying an area of about 19 acre, this palatial mansion was once used as a prison by the British for Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadeo Desai, as well as Miraben, Pyarelal Nair, Sarojini Naidu and Dr Sushila Nayar. Imprisoned during the Quit India movement, both Ba (as Kasturba Gandhi was fondly known) and Desai died of a heart attack in these premises. Their memorials, made of marble, now stand here. With Italian architecture and sculpted lawns, this grand building is today the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society.


There are several photographs and portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of the freedom movement housed here; one of the most impressive and moving of these is a tableau of the Mahatma leading a protest march against the British. Visitors can also take a gander at Gandhiji’s work at the Sewagram, located 8 km in the village of Wardha. Other highlights of the palace that are open to public viewing are the room in which he stayed with Kasturba Gandhi, as well as his charkha, sandals and other personal belongings.


Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, Patna
The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, which is also known as the National Gandhi Museum, is located to the north of Gandhi Maidan on the Ashok Raj Path in Patna. In June 1965, a white statue of Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated at this spot. The museum showcases a picture gallery depicting the life of Gandhiji, a library hall, a conference hall as well as a Gandhi Sahitya Kendra. 


Gandhi Memorial, Kanyakumari
The cultural centre of the city where the ashes of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi were kept before immersion, the Gandhi Memorial is a must-visit. The building’s architecture is unique that the sun’s rays fall exactly at the spot where the ashes had been placed. It is home to a library that houses many rare historical periodicals and old books, along with thousands of other books, magazines and pamphlets. The memorial also holds a correspondence course on the activities and life of the father of the nation and a certificate is awarded to students at its conclusion.


Dandi Kutir, Gandhinagar
Dandi Kutir is the oldest and largest museum in India that is built around the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. It has been specially designed to portray the biography of the Father of the Nation. The use of audio-visual techniques has been employed to show the early life of Gandhiji. One can see how Bapu, from his birth on October 2, 1869, in Kathiawad, to his childhood, was a shy and remarkable student. The visuals also give a glimpse into Gandhiji's marriage to Kasturba and his youthful experiments. This museum is designed with sophisticated electronics technology in which audio, video and 3-D visual, 360-degree shows and displays are used to show varied knowledge. 


Kaba Gandhi No Delo, Rajkot
Formerly the residence of Karamchand Gandhi, father of Mahatma Gandhi, who was appointed the Diwan of Rajkot by the British, Kaba Gandhi No Delo is an unmissable heritage site. One can witness the life of the Mahatma in pictures in the house that have both Hindi and Gujarati captions. It is said that Gandhiji spent the early years of his childhood, from 1881 to 1887 AD, in this house. The structure of the building has been built in a Saurashtrian style of architecture and boasts arched gateways and courtyards. Many relics like Gandhi's personal belongings and other objects are also housed here. Moreover, Gandhi's passion for handloom is encouraged in a weaving school that offers classes in sewing and embroidery to young girls. The site is currently managed by an NGO.


Gandhi Teerth, Aurangabad
Located in Jain Hills, Jalgaon, Gandhi Teerth is a 65,000 sq ft complex that comprises research centres and museums centred on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Flanked by a mango orchard and many serene walkways, the complex has been beautifully landscaped. The sprawling gardens are spread across 300 acre and offer a great escape from the hustle-bustle of the city. Guests can also find rooms at a residential complex within the premise. The institution is home to a thematic, state-of-the-art ‘Gandhi ji ki Khoj’ museum. It includes various interactive multimedia presentations for visitors who can gain a lot of insight into the Indian Independence struggle as well as information about the philosophical beliefs and life of the Father of the Nation. The Gandhi Teerth is also home to the GIRI, or the Gandhi International Research Institute. This is the academic arm of the institute, which is responsible for awarding degrees, certificates and facilitating world-class research in Gandhi studies. The premises is home to the discussions and meetings of the Gandhi think-tank, which is geared towards bringing about a seamless blending of the principles of Gandhi with the contemporary policy and political challenges and attitudes. An archive of the publications on and by Gandhiji is also a part of the premises. It has also started an initiative called Gandhinomics, which works towards creating rural development and outreach programmes on the basis of Gandhian ideology. Some of the exciting technological features of the premises include sections that are equipped with touch screens, bioscopes, digital books, 3-D mapping and animation. There is also a hyper-realistic statue of Gandhiji, which spins in real-time. It is part of the 2.5 hours guided tour of the museum that the visitors can enjoy.