Before the rays of the sun hit the city, is the perfect time to experience the serene ashram of the Mahatma.
The auto drops me off at the Ashram, in front of what looks like just another brick wall you see everywhere in Ahmedabad. The simplicity of the ashram’s oblique entrance was nothing but an index to the simplicity of the ashram itself.
Mild rays of the 630 sun, softly lights up the place, and reflects off the morning due drops.
The freshness of the morning spills over to my mind as I begin wandering, among the nature bound kutirs ( cottages ).
The Sabarmati ashram being architecturally well balanced, is laid out with the homes of the late satyagrahis, including the Mahatma himself, with which coexist the brick and concrete structures, designed by Charles Correa.
The brick columns support the sloped roofs of the museum and the gallery that host the eminence of Mahatma in a minimalistic way.
“My life is my message to the world” said he.
And so it became.
The art gallery and the memorial museum illustrate in detail, the life of Gandhiji, and in particular, his life at the ashram after he returned from Africa. The gallery also displays the originals of the letters he wrote, and the articles he published that caused the great revolution.
Walking along the banks of the Sabarmati, at the far end of the ashram, I witnessed the old structures, the kutirs. The peace of the space, despite the movement of all the visitors, awed me. As I entered the Hriday Kunj, the residence of the Mahatma, the simplicity of the residence in terms of its architecture, and its oneness with nature struck me the most.
The mere thought of setting foot where the Mahatma spent most of his life, got me immersed into thoughts about his days here. Characters of the time, came to life at the Hriday Kunj and I could imagine what a day at this sacred home would look like.
The Mahatma’s desk, his Chakra and other possessions laid out in front, only added to the experiential imagination of his life here, as I sat with a guide who helped me spin the symbol of Independence- the Chakra, for the first time.
The preserved kutirs of the ashram along with the Prarthana bhoomi, narrates a tale of its own, and illustrates Gandhi’s life at the ashram. The Hriday Kunj- the residence of the Mahatma and Kasturi bai, houses their possessions along with a try on chakra that takes one back in time.
Sabarmati Ashram also houses
- a museum of the Chakra- and its evolution over time, and in addition, showcases various techniques of Khadi weaving.
- a painting gallery that illustrates the life of Mahatma through the artistic strokes of Shri Hiralal Katri in eight man-sized paintings.
I walked out of the museum and across the Prarthana bhoomi, only to witness the perennial beauty of all, the Sabarmati. A light swift current, together with the wind, flows passively, and along with it takes my thoughts.
I sat down on one of the benches, still hooked onto the Sabarmati, ruminating the stories of Mahatma, both heard and seen.
A beautiful addition to the already serene community, the Sabarmati, can be experienced in one of the best means and views, from the elegant benches of the ashram pitched under a shady tree.
For chai and a light breakfast , visit parikalp, right opposite the Ashram entrance, across ashram road. Parikalp, gives one a perfect Gujarati street chai experience, along with one of the best tasting Kaman.
As the Ashram is located close to the centre of the city, there are a lot of other options for food that can be considered.
Location: Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, Hridaya Kunj, Old Wadaj, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380027 | Time: 8am to 6pm | Best time to visit: As early as possible, 8 am | Travel by road – Autorickshaws – optimum mode |