For me Ahmedabad was always synonymous with Gandhi Ashram. Every time I read something about Mahatma Gandhi, I wanted to visit the ashram. Finally, I had the opportunity to visit Ahmedabad on my way to Kutch and while I packed in a lot of sightseeing during the day, the afternoon and evening were earmarked for the Ashram. In the lawns just outside the entrance to the ashram museum, the white statues of the 3 wise monkeys “See No Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil” set the expectations from visitors to this abode of peace. A little inside is a statue of Gandhiji lovingly called “Bapu”, the father of the Nation (India).
Through the hallway of the museum building constructed much after his death in 1963, we spent time in the different galleries, looking at the artefacts, paintings depicting his life scenes, the famous charkha (spinning wheel), his hand written notes and notes of appreciation and gratitude from fellow leaders and philosophers of his time and beyond. “My Life is my Message” Gallery is particularly poignant and I would advise every visitor to spend some dedicated time there.
After a while we walked out to the other side, which is the real ashram complex built in 1917 and where Gandhiji spent his life until 1930. His home “Hridaya Kunj” overlooking the Sabarmati still has one room with all his belongings. I stood there, peering through the glass and iron rails of the red door watching every corner of his room. The seat cover is starched white, not a speck of dust around and it is not hard to imagine the frail but firm form of Bapu sitting there.
Walking towards the far end (away from the gate) along the river, we passed by Magan Niwas where his nephew and close confidante Maganlal Gandhi stayed and then Upasana Mandir where he sat in prayer every day at dawn and dusk. Walking back along the river to the other end, the setting sun lent a brilliant golden aura to the entire surrounding. We stood in front of Vinoba – Meera Kutir which is a spartan house with tiled roofs where Vinoba Bhave one of Bapu’s ardent followers stayed for a while followed by Meera (Madeleine- British Admiral’s daughter). There were small groups of people sitting under the trees, some engaged in not so soft banter and others quietly resting after a long day. Soon the playful children in the far corner gathered together singing melodious Bhajan’s (hymns) and the birds returning home chirped in perfect tune with them. Bapu left the ashram for the Salt March in 1930 vowing not to return until India gained independence but his imprint and messages are visible everywhere.
If you are visiting Ahmedabad, this place is a must visit in your itinerary!! Preferably spend the evening…