India is filled with places sacred to followers of different faiths. Travelers from India and abroad, in huge numbers, visit the country on pilgrimages every year. We have covered a number of these locations, including detailed devotional tours, in some of our articles here. But, today, we are setting out on a pilgrimage of a different sort. We will be visiting the places related to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. In the course of this Gandhi Yatra, we will look at some of the most important locations that can help us remember fondly again the strength, humility and determination of this great man. Some of these places are major tourist draws, while others are relatively less known, even among Indians.
Photo by Jaydip3212
Kirti Mandir, Porbandar – The best place to start would be the place where Mahatma Gandhi was born. Putlibai gave birth to Mohandas in a three-storied ancestral haveli in Porbandar on October 2, 1869, which had been purchased by Shri Harjivan Rajdas Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandfather in the 17th century. Beside this house is Kirti Mandir, the temple built in Bapu’s memory in 1950. The memorial has life size oil paintings of Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi (she was born close to this house too), a small museum, a library, and an area for sale of books.
Porbandar is an old picturesque seaside town about 400 km west of Ahmedabad, with many other historical sites for the interested traveler. The railway station is well-connected with major Indian cities. National Highways 8B and 8E connect the town to important cities in Gujarat, and regular bus and taxi services are available. The airport is non-operational as of June 2017, but there are talks to begin a service connecting it to Mumbai.
Photo Courtesy Satyendra Thakur
Gandhi Museum, Motihari – After his return from South Africa in 1915, on the advice of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi traveled across India to better understand the country. It was in Champaran in Bihar in 1917 that he first got involved actively in a satyagraha against the British on behalf of indigo farmers. Motihari, the headquarters of East Champaran district in Bihar, has a museum at the location where Gandhi stayed and planned his agitation. Artifacts and photos related to the Champaran movement, and files and books related to Gandhi in the comprehensive non-lending library are notable inclusions here. The 48-ft Gandhi Memorial Pillar, designed by Nandlal Bose, stands at the site where Gandhi was presented in court for the first time.
Motihari is the birthplace of many luminaries, including the author George Orwell. A major tourist attraction close to the town is Kesaria, one of the largest stupas in the world, built by Mauryan Emperor Ashok. The town is located about 160 km north of Patna, which is the nearest major airport. Good rail and road access is available from most cities in North India.
Photo by Mano Ranjan
Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad – Set up over an area of 36 acres on the banks of River Sabarmati, this was the place Gandhi conducted his experiments on truth and non-violence at. He lived here for 12 years, along with Kasturba, and launched the Dandi March from here in 1930, pledging not to return till India had won its freedom. There are several structures within the ashram complex, including Hridaya Kunj, Gandhi’s own cottage; Mira Kutir, where Gandhi’s disciple Miraben used to reside; and Upasana Mandir, the open-air prayer ground. The main site of interest here, though, is the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, the beautifully designed museum that houses many of Gandhi’s personal effects.
Sabarmati Ashram is located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, well connected with the rest of India by rail, road and air.
Photo by Jorge Lascar
Mani Bhavan, Mumbai – The focal point of Gandhi’s political activities in Mumbai from 1917 to 1934, this mansion belonged to his friend Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri. Many movements associated with Gandhi, including Non-Cooperation, Swadeshi and Khilafat were initiated from this place. The room that Gandhi used to stay in during his visits has been maintained the same way, along with many other items related to him.
Mani Bhavan is located on Hughes Road in Mumbai at a walking distance from Girgaon Chowpatty.
Sevagram, Wardha – Gandhi was imprisoned for two years after Dandi March, and spent some time traveling across India after release. He came to Wardha in 1934, and established the new ashram in 1936, which remained his main residence till his death in 1948. A museum with many artifacts of the freedom struggle is located close to the ashram site today.
This small town can be a part of a larger trip through eastern Maharashtra. It is located about 75 km from Nagpur, which is the nearest major airport. The town is located on the Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai railway line, though all trains do not stop here.
Photo by DjohEnInde
Aga Khan Palace, Pune – A magnificent structure built by Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III in 1892 to help the villagers hit by famine, this place served as a prison for Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi, his secretary Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu after the Quit India Movement began in 1942. Kasturba and Desai passed away during their imprisonment. The palace was donated to the people of India by Aga Khan IV in 1969, and it houses a memorial where Gandhi’s ashes are kept. The palace is centrally located in Pune, on the Pune Nagar Road in the Kalyani Nagar area.
Photo by Rolling Okie
Gandhi Smriti (Birla House), New Delhi – Starting from late 1947 till his assassination on the fateful day of 30th January, 1948, this is the house where Mahatma Gandhi spent his final few weeks. Built by the industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla in 1928, this 12-bedroom house serves as a multimedia museum dedicated to Gandhi’s life today. In the lawns of the house is the Martyr’s Column, the exact spot where Gandhi was shot.
Gandhi Smriti is located at 5, Tees January Marg, a short distance away from Connaught Place in New Delhi.
Rajghat, New Delhi – Located on the banks of River Yamuna, this black marble platform marks the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on January 31, 1948. An eternal flame burns at one end of the memorial, surrounded by a vast stretch of greenery.
Photo by kalyan3
Rajghat is located next to the Ring Road, also known as Mahatma Gandhi Road, in eastern Delhi. It is part of a much larger complex that also houses memorials to leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and many others.
There are many other places in India, like Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Jalgaon (Maharashtra), where important museums, memorials and institutions dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi are located. We have tried to cover just some of the key places where the Mahatma spent important years of his life as part of this Gandhi Yatra. This pilgrimage will hopefully help rekindle the values the Mahatma stood for, and which we can always have more of.
Featured Photo (Mahatma Gandhi at the Chennai Marina Beach) by Vinoth Chandar