Retracing the Mahatma's footsteps

Jan 30, 2013, 11:44 IST | Kartiki Nitin Lawate

To mark Martyrs' Day, The Guide offers a checklist of places across the city that have a historic connection to Mahatma Gandhi

On the occasion of Martyrs’ Day (the 64th death anniversary of the father of the nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi), The GUIDE decided to re-discover his connection to the city. Interestingly, The Poona Pact which refers to an agreement between Dr BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, was signed on September 24, 1932 at Yerwada Central Jail in the city. The Yerwada Jail was where Mahatma Gandhi was jailed and spent several years during India’s freedom struggle.

The Aga Khan Palace where Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba were detained from 1942-1944 following the launch of the Quit India Movement

There is also the historic Aga Khan Palace in the city, a majestic building which is considered to be one of the greatest marvels of India. The palace is closely linked to the Indian Struggle for Independence as it served as a prison for Gandhi, his wife Kasturba, his secretary Mahadev Desai and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. It is also the location where Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai breathed their last. In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) declared the place as a monument of national importance.

In 1969, the Aga Khan Palace in Pune was donated to the Indian people by Aga Khan IV as a mark of respect to Gandhi and his philosophy. Today, the Aga Khan Palace also houses a memorial on Gandhi. The historical palace also hosts a shop that deals in khadi and handloom textiles. The Palace was built by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III. It was built as an act of charity by the Sultan who wanted to help the poor who were hit by a famine in the neighbouring areas of Pune.

Also, there is Gandhi Bhavan in Kothrud, near Mahatma Society. It was set up to promote the life and teachings of Gandhiji. There is a library on the premises where there are books on Gandhiji and his life. It also organises events to promote Gandhiji’s philosophy. “Today, from 8.30 am onwards, there will be a prayer at Gandhi Bhavan followed by lectures on the Constitution. It will be followed by bhajans and films on Gandhiji and his thoughts,” said social worker Dr Kumar Saptashri.

To mark Martyrs’ Day, the Aga Khan Palace will host a Sarva Dharma Prayer from 10 am onwards, followed by other events. “There will be panel discussions on various issues such as water purification problems,” said Rama Rauta, Convener, Save Ganga Movement and one of the panelists.

Rauta added that Gandhi’s principles inspired him in his life to work for the conservation of the environment. “Gandhiji always said that while development is necessary one has to consider the environment as well. One should save trees and ensure the water supply is not affected while developing any area,” he states.

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