Due to its strong connection with the history of Indian Independence, the Rashtriya Shala is a massive tourist attraction. Mahatma Gandhi had spent early years of his age in Rajkot; the then ruler of the city Shri Lakhajiraj gave a land at a nominal cost to Mahatma Gandhi to start the Rashtriya Shala.
The main motive behind it was to impart new concepts of nationalism. As of today, in the Rashtriya Shala, a school runs and imparts educational and vocational training to various students. The training includes manual oil pressing, khadi, cotton, ikat and patola weaving. It is a must visit if one as an affinity towards Indian History.
The History of Rashtriya Shala:
In the year 1920, during the Period of Non-Violent Movement of the Indian Independence, Mahatma Gandhi gave the Nation a novel idea. The idea was to shun the British machinery, including Judiciary and educational institutions. On February 21, 1921, Rashtriya Shala made its beginning and officially started functioning in rental premises in Rajkot. Shri Lakhajiraj, the Ruler of the state of Rajkot gave 66 thousand square yards land for setting up the Rashtriya Shala. It is on this land that the main building of the institution was first constructed, and since 1924 Rashtriya Shala started its various activities in this building.
The Objective of the Rashtriya Shala:
The main objective of the Rashtriya Shala was to impart National Education based on Gandhian Concepts, to train and prepare the students to participate in the struggle for freedom of the country and to volunteer themselves to render their services for strengthening the Nation.
Activities at the Rashtriya Shala:
The activities conducted at the Rashtriya Shala are based on the Gandhian Concept. These are:
Bal Mandir: Since 1935 a Bal Mandir (Pre-primary) school is run with an average attendance of 300 children. The school is for the children of 3 to 6 years age-group.
Keshav Kumar Mandir: Primary education has always been a goal for the Rashtriya Shala. From standard 1 to 7 education is provided to the students (both boys and girls). Average 700 students take benefits of this division in 2 shifts.
Sangeet Mahavidyalaya: Classes for imparting vocal and instrumental music and also Bharat Natyam (dance form) right up to degree courses are conducted in this school. Started in 1935, about 150 boys and girls receive a good education from this school.
Mahadeo Desai Library and Reading Room: There are about 5000 books (Gujarati, Hindi, English) in this library mainly on Gandhian ideals.
Gita-Ramayan Examinations: Knowledge of Gita and Ramayana plays a very important role in the character building of the new generation as per the Gandhian concepts. To fulfill this noble idea of Mahatma Gandhi an examination of Gita and Ramayana is conducted once a year. A Silver Memento is presented to a center for best performance.
Khadi Mandir: This activity was started in Rashtriya Shala right from the days when Narayandasbhai Gandhi settled here in 1935. Production and sale of Khadi are the main activity of this institute. In this Section, about 700 spinners spin on 6 spindles Amber Charkha.
Amber Parishramalaya (Work-Shed): Most of the ladies spin on Amber Charkhas at their own residence but for those who cannot afford to purchases an Amber Charkha, there is one Parishramalaya (work shed) since 1961. In the Parishramalaya premises, about 60 ladies spin for 7 hours, and each lady gets Rs. 8/- to Rs.10/-.
Patola (Silk Sarees) Weaving cum Training Center: This is a unique activity of the institution. This ancient craftsmanship of Gujarat is preserved by the institution. Since the beginning of this section in 1951, many new Patola artisans have been trained.
Telghat (Oil Extraction): Since 1935 this section is operational, where pure oil is extracted from Sesame Seeds. Previously crushers were operated by bullocks, but now this process is done by small Rotary motors. Annually about forty thousand Kilograms of sesame oil is produced.
Rashtriya Shala has a lot of historical significance as it a deep impact on the history of the Indian Independence. It reminds us of the struggle the freedom fighters had gone through. One of the special features at the Shala is the Bapu Upwas Khand. During the historical Rajkot Civil Disobedience Movement of 1939, in order to change the heart of Shree DharmadraSinhji, the then Ruler of Rajkot, Mahatmaji had gone on fast in a room in Rashtriya Shala. This Room is preserved as a National Monument.
The Visiting hours for Rashtriya Shala are from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.