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. Though 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, still stand here. With Italian architecture and sculpted lawns, this grand building is now the headquarters of the Gandhi National Memorial Society.
It was Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III who built this palace in 1892 as an act of charity for those who were drastically affected by the famine that had hit Pune at the time.
Khadi, the handwoven natural fibre that Gandhiji used to spin on his charkha, is still made here. The 2.5-m-long circular corridor is well-known, running the periphery of the palace. 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 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. It has now been taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).