For a huge swathe of modern Indians, Gandhi is an almost forgotten, almost mythic figure, perhaps to be occasionally glimpsed on celluloid or or stamps or even a politician pays token obeisance. Little of Mohandas Gandhi’s vision or ideals are visible in practice in mainstream India.
For a small band of followers and admirers however, Gandhi’s relevance is as important as ever. And it is these that the tourism industry is targeting as somewhere in a plethora of new circuits and destinations seeking their place under the sun is Gandhi tourism. Stray visitors are also welcome of course.
He travelled widely during his lifetime and now many places he visited are exploring that connection to better highlight that facet. Not just in India, but South Africa, his early karmbhoomi, has got into the act.
Here is a list of places you could see his memories preserved.
Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi’s main place of work and stay, is located on the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad. Hand-written letters of Gandhiji, literature and paintings that have reflections of his life can be seen at the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. It has five units and a library, two photo-galleries and an auditorium. The museum houses eight life-sized colour oil- paintings and an exhibition on his life ‘My life is My Message’ and ‘Gandhiji in Ahmedabad’. An archive stores 34,066 letters by Gandhi, manuscripts of his 8,633 articles, negatives of 6,367 photographs, 134 reels of microfilm of his writings, 210 films on Gandhi and the freedom struggle. The library has over 30,000 books, 155 letters of felicitation received by Gandhi, besides a miscellaneous memorabilia comprising of coins, postal stamps.
Also near the city is Kochrab Ashram, another workplace for Gandhi, which he fonded before shifting to Sabarmati Ashram.
The Gandhi Museum and Library is arguably the most comprehensive collection of his works and memorabilia. The museum contains huge picture galleries depicting his life, work and ideals in photographs, artworks, paintings and his relics. Also a well-maintained specialized library with nearly 40,000 books, magazines, his correspondence, books on world peace and religions.
Gandhi Smriti formerly known as Birla House, is a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, situated on Tees January Road. He spent the last 144 days of his lifehere and was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
Delhi also has Raj Ghat, where his ashes are preserved.
Whenever he was in Mumbai between 1917 to 1934, Mahatma stayed at Mani Bhavan, a modest two-storied building on Laburnum Road, Gamdevi. It is now converted into a museum and research centre Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya.
He stayed here from 1936 to 1948 at Sevagram Ashram, which was the centre of his during that period. It became the central place for a number of institutions for the nation building activities devised by him to suit the inherent strength of this country.
His birthplace in Porbandar is known as Kirti Mandir. This blue haveli is now a museum that displays old photographs and rare personal belongings.
In 1939, he had set up Rashtriyashala in Rajkot. Another famous place to visit in Rajkot is the Kaba Gandhi no Delo. This place used to be his father’s home but today it offers a tour of the Mahatma’s life way means of pictures.
There is a Gandhi Smriti and the Gandhi Museum, which depicts Gandhi’s life.
The Aitihasik Ambo has the famous mango tree beneath which Gandhiji proclaimed that he wanted complete freedom and nothing short of it.
Near Surat, is a important site that witnessed the famous Dandi March.
He also visited Patna in March 1934 and later in March 1947. All these information have been displayed at platform No. 1 of Patna Junction, along with a photograph of Mahatma alighting from a train.
Swaraj Ashram, where the Mahatma stayed, Government plans to convert it into a heritage tourism destination. INTACH is currently renovating the Ashram.
At the Gandhi Smruti Peetha last year a reception centre, park and a public centre opened.
Gujarat has a Gandhi circuit. Bihar and Odisha have announced plans to have them soon in their states. Indian Railways had announced a circuit to mark the occasion of 100 years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa. More on this is awaited.
Musafir Namah Bureau