Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about Sabarmati Ashram:
About 5km north of the centre, in peaceful, shady grounds on the river’s west bank, this ashram was Gandhi’s headquarters from 1917 to 1930 during the long struggle for Indian independence. It’s said Gandhi chose this site because it lay between a jail and a cemetery, and any satyagrahi (nonviolent resister) was bound to end up in one or the other.
From here on March 12,1930, Gandhi and 78 companions set out on the famous Salt March to Dandi on the Gulf of Cambay in a symbolic protest, with Gandhi vowing not to return to the ashram until India had gained independence.
The ashram was disbanded in 1933, later becoming a center for Dalit (formerly called ‘Untouchables’) welfare activities and cottage industries. Gandhi’s poignant, spartan living quarters are preserved, and there’s a museum that presents an informative record of his life and teachings.
After Gandhi’s death some of his ashes were immersed in the river in front of the ashram.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The ashram was just a simple cluster of buildings when we first visited it in 1991 while in India travelling with our children and other extended family members. Gandhi had been my hero since I was eleven or twelve – I was greatly affected by his philosophy of non-violence. I was very much interested in seeing the ashram again, and showing it to my sister and her husband who were on their first visit to India. Not a lot of tourists travel to Ahmedabad, or the state of Gujarat, but to me Gandhi is such a central figure in the history of India, it would be a shame to visit the country and not see the Sabarmati Ashram.
I wasn’t expecting it to be much different than when we’d visited before, so it came as a great surprise to see that an extensive, open-air museum had been constructed on the grounds adjacent to the buildings that formerly comprised the ashram. I was pleased that we weren’t in a rush and could take the time to pour over the numerous exhibits on display and learn even more about the impact this incredible man had made on his peoples and the world at large.
There was a flurry of activity near the small building that houses the bookstore and gift shop. Workers were constructing a small rectangular building, something that looked almost temporary, with large air-condition units placed at the back side. When we asked, we were told that they were preparing for the visit of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. They must have felt their entourage might need a space to retreat to in case the weather was uncomfortably hot for the guests.
We were so happy that we had made our visit to the ashram ahead of the politicians. And we were equally happy that we would be leaving early in the morning on the day they arrived in the city. I was oblivious to the fact that our hotel was crawling with American men who were having numerous meetings over the four days we were in residence. My brother in law Duncan was the one who pointed out to me that they were probably the advance security detail who were making plans to ensure that the visit went smoothly, without any untoward incidences happening.
There was heightened security every time we entered or left the hotel, I hoped that we were safe and that no one would target the hotel while we were there. I was only too happy to leave when we did, and when we returned to Ahmedabad after our tour of Gujarat, we stayed in the old part of the city, at a venerable heritage hotel instead of returning to the Hyatt Regency.