Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Sabarmati Ashram occupies a special place in the history of Indian National Movement, being the controlling site of most of the major activities initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. It assumes a position of critical importance in India's pre independence history not only because it was a witness to a number of historical events during India's struggle for independence, but also because it was a symbol of Mahatma's political ideologies and the philosophies of his life.

Gandhian ethos of life and political doctrines permeated into all spheres of the Indian society from the Sabarmati Ashram. It was at this ashram, located at a distance of few kilometers from Ahmedabad, Gujarat that the political strategies and action plans of Mahatma Gandhi found shape.

Built on the lines of Gandhi's life views, it was from this place that Gandhi stimulated the political consciousness of the masses and garnered their support for India's struggle for freedom, thus drawing them into the mainstream of the national politics. Sabarmati Ashram, also referred to by a host of other names like Gandhi Ashram, Harijan Ashram and Satyagraha Ashram is a place highly revered by the entire nation, for the great Mahatma left marks of his exemplary life over here. It is a repository of memories that immortalize Gandhi in the hearts of the millions of Indians.

Setting up of Sabarmati Ashram

In the month of January, 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned to India after twenty long years in South Africa. The first thought that occupied his mind at that time was the question of settlement of his associates and his family, who were a part of the South African struggle. Many places likes Rajkot, Vidyanathadham and Hardwar were suggested by his friends. However, Gandhi decided to build his ashram in Ahmedabad. There were precisely three factors that influenced Gandhi's choice of Ahmedabad among the other suggested locations. According to Gandhi, being of Gujrati origin, he could best serve his country by using Gujarati language. Second, Gandhi felt that the potentials of the spinning mill, the charkha could be best explored in Ahmedabad, as it was the hub of Indian handloom at that time. Third, Gandhi expected that the rich people of Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, would contribute handsomely towards the cause of the ashram.

The first ashram that Gandhi set up in India was housed at the bungalow of Jivanlal Desai, who was a barrister by profession and a friend of Gandhi. This ashram was built at Kochrab, near Paldi, a modest village near Ahmedabad, on 25th May, in 1915. There were twenty five inmates at the ashram. However, as Kochrab became infested with plague after two years, Gandhi had to relocate his ashram. This time, the bank of Sabarmati River was selected as the new site for the ashram. Located at a distance of four kilometers, towards the north of Kochrab, the new site for the ashram lay within close quarters of a prison house. The land was covered by a dense forest. What impressed Gandhi was the vast expanse of land, measuring thirty six acres. It was also in the vicinity of the temple of saint Dadheechi, which according to Hindu mythology is reputed as the epitome of self-sacrifice for the sake of higher ideals and universal well-being. In 1917, in the month of July, the doors of the new Sabarmati Ashram were thrown open. Residing at the canvas tents were forty ashramites. Very soon the entire ashram became buzzing with activities. Gandhi initially stayed at Vanatshala, where handlooms were set up. Later, Hridaykunj became his abode. This ascetic dwelling bears testimony to rise of the Mahatma as the voice of the masses and as the leader of the nation.

While laying the foundation of Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi identified the aim of the ashram as; adequate training for and a constant effort to contribute towards national service. Incorporated in the spirit of national service, is the notion of well being. An integral part of the ashram life was prayer. The moral and spiritual developments of the ashramites were given immense importance as Gandhi sought to inculcate in the inmates the cardinal tenets of his philosophy of life. These were celibacy, religious tolerance, eradication of untouchability, self help, non possession, education, adherence to truth and win over fear, abstinence from liquor and meat and avoidance of foreign made articles. The ashramites lovingly called him Bapu, which soon became a common way of addressing Gandhi in the entire nation.

During the thirteen long years of Gandhi's stay at Sabarmati Ashram, several momentous events unfolded at this site. Gandhi bestowed his leadership to a number of satyagraha struggles, movements and programs from Sabarmati Ashram. Many of the critical social and political reforms and activities, initiated by Gandhi like campaigns against untouchability, campaign for basic education, charkha and prohibition, khadi related activities and swadeshi andolans were based at Sabarmati Ashram. The first incident of Gandhi's trial for violation of the British authorities, the first incident of Gandhi's imprisonment and Gandhi's first fast, all happened while his stay at Sabarmati Ashram.

In the year 1918, Gandhi gave leadership to the strike of the textile mill workers, which was the first struggle that he led from Sabarmati Ashram. A settlement was arrived at with the owners of the mills on the third day of Gandhi's fast. Later, Gandhi helped the workers to set up a Weavers School at Sabarmati. A very positive consequence of this agitation was the foundation of the Textile Labor Association. This was followed by the Kheda satyagraha, which assumed a national dimension, with the passage of the Rowlatt Act by the British government.

Perhaps the crowing glory of Sabarmati Ashram is the fact that it formed the venue from which Gandhi launched the very significant Dandi March. It is important to note in this context that the historic Salt March also marked the occasion when Gandhi bid farewell to the ashram, unleashing a crucial episode in the history of Sabarmati Ashram. On March 12th, in the year 1980, with an entourage of seventy nine followers, Gandhi commenced his two hundred and forty mile walk, as a gesture of violation of the Salt Tax, promulgated by the British government. Gandhi made a public announcement, before embarking on the Dandi Salt March that he would not be influenced by any circumstances to return to Sabarmati Ashram, until India was free from the shackles of the British. This event appealed to the sentiments of the entire country and acted as a major unifying force. By picking up a handful of salt from the Dandi seacoast, Gandhi defied the salt tax. The consequence was the launch of a large scale non co-operation movement, with the people of the country boycotting foreign made articles and violating the salt laws. The British government in a bid to contain the fervor of the struggle arrested Gandhi on 4th May, at Karadi Camp.

The commencement of the Dandi Salt March indeed proved to be the last moments of Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram. True to his vow never to return to the Ashram unless he saw an independent India, Gandhi never returned there again. He dissolved the Ashram itself in 1933. as history would have it, Gandhi did witness the glorious moment of Indian Independence, although with a heavy heart, but Sabarmati Ashram never could welcome the nation's hero back. In 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by Vinayak N Godse.

Since 1951, the responsibility of preserving and maintaining the Sabarmati Ashram is being discharged by Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust. A place of immense historical relevance, each and every corner of Sabarmati Ashram reminisces the contributions of the Mahatma not only towards the political goal of Indian freedom, but towards the larger goal of moral and spiritual development of mankind. It is visited by vast multitude of people from all over the world. Vinoba Kutir, Upasana Mandir, Nandini and Gandhi Sangrahalaya are some of the important areas of Sabarmati Ashram.

Location of Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Sabarmati Ashram - Entry Fee, Timing, Address, Official Website

AddressAshram Road, Old Wadaj, Ahmedabad, Gujarat - 380027
Entry Fee :No entry fee
Timings :Visiting Hours - 8:30 AM - 6:30 PM
Phone No (Official) +91-79-27557277
Photography allowed or notNot Allowed
Nearest railway stationSabarmati Railway Station

Last Updated on : May 16, 2015



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