Sabarmati Ashram – Mahatma Gandhi’s Home in Ahmedabad
Quit India! Quit India! The loud voices rang through the still night piercing it like the staccato burst of machine gun fire. Suddenly the dark night was awash with brilliant light, what seemed like a giant bonfire erupted in the distance.
“Volunteers walked from house to house, collecting clothes made from foreign fabric and the entire community would collect to light a spectacular bonfire of the clothes”. A baritone voice drawled on. But my eyes were transfixed on the brilliant display of light that represented the bonfire of foreign clothes that was a watershed incident in the history of India’s Independence struggle.
I was at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati, Ahmedabad, India. It was a warm summer night and cool breeze flew from across the Sabarmati river banks, bringing some respite after a long and sweltering day. I was seated in an open-air auditorium and was enthralled by the Son et Lumiere or Sound & Light show that showcased the events preceding India’s Independence and the pivotal role that the Gandhi Ashram played in the series of events that shaped the future of a nation that we now all know as India.
My first visit to the Sabarmati Ashram was as a kid and it left a deep impression on my young mind. Till then Mahatma Gandhi was for me a person about whom we learned in history books, a person to be revered, a person, the picture of whose frail and bespectacled face was found splashed across currency notes and postage stamps. But the serenity of Sabarmati Ashram seemed to touch the very core of my being and I felt a strange bond with the man who had changed the course of Indian history. It was much later that I read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, “My Experiments With Truth“, and I was able to appreciate the sheer power of the frail man who moved nations with his grit and determination.
The History of Gandhi Ashram
Sabarmati Ashram which is also referred to as Mahatma Gandhi Ashram or simply as Gandhi Ashram was an epicenter of power and a very important place that influenced events that finally culminated in the Independence of India on the 15th of August, 1947. It was in the year 1917 that the Gandhi Ashram was born, which means that 2017 marks 100 years of Sabarmati Ashram. The Ashram was built on the banks of the river Sabarmati and served as Mahatma Gandhi’s home in Ahmedabad. He stayed here with his wife Kasturba for a period of 12 eventful years.
It was from the Sabarmati Ashram that the famous Dandi March also referred to as the Salt Satyagraha was launched in the year 1930. The Dandi March was one of the events that acted as a catalyst in speeding up the Independence of India. It is also interesting to note that the site where the Sabarmati Ashram stands is supposed to be the place where one of the Ashrams of a famous sage called Dadhichi in Hindu mythology is supposed to have existed.
Sabarmati Ashram Information
Today, the Gandhi Ashram or Sabarmati Ashram is a National Monument and is a museum dedicated to the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. Life-size paintings, enlarged photos, and other visual aids bring alive in vivid color the life of the philosopher, saint, and freedom fighter that the world knew as Mahatma Gandhi. The life of Mahatma Gandhi from his birth in the small town of Porbandar in Gujarat, to his life as a lawyer and fight against racism in South Africa, his plunge into the Indian freedom struggle, his many famous Satyagrahas, India’s tryst with destiny and the attainment of Independence, and finally the poignant moment when an assassin’s bullet put a full stop to his life, is depicted through visuals in the elegantly designed museum known as Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya.
Apart from the museum which was a later addition and built in the year 1963, the Gandhi Ashram also has in its premises the quarters that housed the Mahatma, his family, and visitors. The different quarters that can be visited are listed as under:
This is the spartan quarters where Mahatma Gandhi stayed with his wife Kasturba from 1918 to 1930. This is the place where Mahatma Gandhi met many National and International leaders who sought his audience. Many of his personal items, some originals, and some replicas can be seen in Hriday Kunj.
This includes his famous Charkha or spinning wheel, the same wheel with which he finely spun Independence for India from British rule.
This is a small hut where the famous Indian advocate for Non-violence and Human Rights stayed for some time during his visit to the Ashram. At a different time, the same hut also housed Mirabehn also known as Madeline Slade, a British woman who left her home to work with Mahatma Gandhi.
This was the quarters where Maganlal Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s nephew, and the able manager of the Ashram stayed.
This was the quarters where guests were put up in the Ashram. Many national and international leaders have stayed here.
The prayer grounds are a tranquil space with the merry chirping of birds and the leaves rustling in the trees. The strains of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite song, “Vaishnava Jan To“, lend an aura of calm and spirituality to the already blissful ambiance. As you walk through the prayer grounds, you can imagine the devotion of the prayers led by Mahatma Gandhi as he prepared his next mass movement in the struggle for Independence.
Take a virtual tour of the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad here:
Important Information for Visitors to Sabarmati Ashram
- Sabarmati Ashram is situated in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a western state of India
- Ahmedabad is an international airport and connected to all major cities of India
- The Sabarmati Ashram timings are from 8.30 AM to 6.30 PM and it is open on all days including public holidays
- There is no entrance fee charged
- Photography is permitted in the Ashram
- Smoking and carrying or use of Alcohol is strictly prohibited on the Ashram premises
- Visitors are expected to exercise propriety in behavior to ensure that the sanctity of the premises is not compromised
Hotels Near Sabarmati Ashram
For travelers wishing to stay near the Sabarmati Ashram, there are multiple options. Some of the hotels include Hotel Silver Cloud, The Metropole, and Starottel Ahmedabad.
In and Around Ahmedabad
When you are in Ahmedabad you may also want to check out some of the other attractions which include the following:
- Kankaria Lake
- Adalaj Stepwell
- Sidi Saiyed Jali
- Calico Museum of Textiles
No visit to Ahmedabad would be ever complete without a pilgrimage to Sabarmati Ashram. I have forgotten the number of times that I have visited this hallowed place. Every time I enter the precincts of the Ashram, its serene and positive vibrations touch the core of my heart and I feel strangely transformed. No wonder that this is the place where a man whom the world knows simply as Gandhi lived and shaped the destiny of the world for 12 years!
Have you been to Gandhi ashram? How was the experience?
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