In memory of the Mahatma
It looks like a regular telephone. But the moment you pick up the receiver to check whether the instrument works or not, this phone no longer remains ordinary. Listen carefully - what you are hearing is a leader talking about unity between people of different castes and creeds to free the nation from colonial rule. Pay heed and you will realise that it is the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi addressing millions, urging them towards strengthening their struggle for Independence against the British.
This is just one of the novel concepts that draws you in at the National Gandhi Museum at Rajghat which apprises people about the life and times of the Mahatma. The place has a lot more to it that throws light on the life of a man credited with the freedom of the country. But more than that, the museum attempts to chronicle a larger-than-life persona of one who spearheaded and promulgated the path of non-violence across the world. A feat that can only be emulated but certainly not bettered.
Photographs, library, replicas of Gandhiji’s working room, medals presented to him by different countries and articles used by him are all a part of this national treasure today.
The beginning of the museum goes back to 1948 soon after the assassination of Gandhiji. Collecting and preserving the basic materials that would go into the museum started first in Mumbai. Later the work continued in Delhi and in 1951 a small museum was set up in the hutments adjoining Kota House. In 1957 it shifted to old mansion at 5, ManSingh Road. It was in 1959 that the museum found a permanent place near Gandhi Samadhi at Rajghat.
The museum houses a Charkha Gallery, throwing light on the development and history of Charkha that played a pivotal role in our struggle for independence. The room has a variety of charkhas like Bardoli, Bageshwari, Kisan, Yervada, One Spindle Box, Bihar, Standing, Four Spindle Wooden Ambar Charkha and several more varities.
The photo gallery section has over 300 photographs related to Gandhiji - right from his childhood to his death. The hall also has some more interesting items on display like Gandhiji’s spectacles, microscope, pen, watches, sandels, utensils, books, diaries and the stick used in Dandi March. There is also a replica of the house where he used to stay. An attention grabbing item here is a hand-woven saree gifted by Gandhiji to Indira Gandhi, India’s first woman Prime Minister on her marriage.
The Commemorative Gallery has the photographs of Gandhiji’s last journey, a model of the rail coach in which his ashes were carried to Allahabad, clothes and bed-covers. This in turn leads to Martyrdom Gallery where his blood-stained shawl and dhoti, one of the bullets which killed Gandhiji and the pocket watch which was with him at the last moment are on display. The newspaper clippings offer a glimpse into the turmoil that the country experienced at the time of his death.
There is also Art and Ashram gallery where photographs of five ashrams established by Gandhiji are on display. Last but not the least, is a replica of the Sabarmati Ashram - Hridya Kunj, which completes the picture of a life well-lived!