Ahmedabad is a beautiful city with various sites for tourists to explore. Ahmedabad caters to a lot of historical monuments as well, one of them being the Sabarmati Ashram located in the Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad, on the banks of the River Sabarmati. This was once one of the abodes of Mahatma Gandhi, who spent about twelve years of his life here along with his wife, Kasturba Gandhi.
The place is famous for not only being an abode for Mahatma Gandhi but also because of its historical importance. It was from here that on March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi led the ‘Dandi March’ (known as the ‘Salt Satyagraha’) which holds a significant position in the History of Indian Independence Movement.
History of Sabarmati Ashram
The Sabarmati is also known as Gandhi Ashram, Harijan Ashram, or Satyagraha Ashram. The Ashram was first established at Mahatma Gandhi’s friend Jivanlal Desai’s bungalow, known as the Kocharab Bungalow on May 25th, 1915. Later on, two years hence on June 17th, 1917 Gandhi Ji shifted the Ashram to a much bigger site of 36 acres on the banks of River Sabarmati. He wanted to accomplish other pursuits as well apart from various activities related to the Independence Movement; such as farming and animal husbandry.
The Sabarmati Ashram is located between a Jail and a Crematorium. Gandhi Ji believed that a ‘Satyagrahi’ has customarily to go to either of the places. In his words, “This is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness, for on one side are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other the thunderbolts of Mother Nature.”
The ‘Salt Satyagraha’ was carried on from the Ashram against the British Salt Law (increased taxes on Indian salt in an effort to promote sales of British salt in India). On 12 March 1930, Gandhi marched to Dandi with 78 companions. Dandi was 241 miles from the ashram eventually; people started joining the movement that grew to thousands in number. This mass civil disobedience, in turn, led to the jailing of some 60,000 freedom fighters by the British.
The Ashram was deserted after it was left by Mahatma Gandhi. The government seized the ashram but it was taken back from the British Government. After that, the local people decided to preserve it. Mahatma Gandhi pledged not to move to the Ashram before Indian Independence. India commemorated its freedom on 15 August 1947; however, Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948.
Notable Features of the Sabarmati Ashram
The Ashram contains a lot of memorable belongings of Mahatma Gandhi as well as of the Freedom Struggle. “My life is my message” gallery consists of 8 life-size paintings and more than 250 enlarged photos of some of the historic events of Gandhi’s life. The Ashram showcases an exhibition displaying quotations, letters and other vestiges of Mahatma Gandhi.
Apart from the above relics, the Sabarmati Ashram consists of nearly 34,117 letters to and from Gandhi both in original and in photocopies. There are about 8,781 pages of manuscripts of Mahatma Gandhi’s articles appearing in Harijan, Harijansevak, and Harijanbandhu. 6,000 photographs of Gandhi and his associates are also a must watch in the Ashram.
Many tourists come to the Sabarmati Ashram just to have a glimpse of the ‘Hriday Kunj’. It was the cottage of Mahatma Gandhi. Today some of his belongings are displayed here. The Charkha used by Gandhi Ji to spin Khadi and the writing table he used for writing letters are also a few of the priceless items kept and looked after here in the cottage. This wooden ‘Chappals’ and round glass Spectacles are also kept and preserved in the Sabarmati Ashram.
Other Sites in the Sabarmati Ashram
Today, the Ashram has a museum known as the ‘Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya’. The museum was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on May 10th, 1963.
There are other buildings and sites inside the Ashram premises to explore, these are:
Located on the right side of the ‘Hriday Kunj’ is Nandini, which is an old Ashram Guest House.
Named after Acharya Vinoba Bhave who stayed here, the Ashram is also known as ‘Mira Kutir’ after the name of one of Mahatma Gandhi’s Disciple Mirabehn who was the daughter of a British Rear-Admiral.
This hut used to be the home of the ashram manager, Maganlal Gandhi. Maganlal was the much-loved cousin of Gandhi whom he called the soul of the Ashram.
Situated between Hridaya Kunj and Magan Nivas, Upasana Mandir is an open air playground where after Prayers Gandhiji would refer to individual’s questions.
The Sabarmati ashram receives about 700,000 visitors each year. It remains open to visitors every day of the year from 8.00am to 7.00.pm to have a visit and pay homage to our ‘Father of the Nation’, Mahatma Gandhi. It is a beautiful place with a nostalgic ambiance that would leave you picturing the freedom struggle our nation went through. The Sabarmati Ashram is a must visit for all the history lovers; for all who would love to watch a place so peaceful and tranquil imparting a scent of the bygone era.