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'Live' Gandhi at Kochrab Ashram in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad, Nov 4, 2013 (PTI): 13:08 IST
Mahatma Gandhi. DH file photo
An experience to live like Mahatma Gandhi practising truth, chastity, non-violence, doing physical labour, wearing khadi and visiting communities can now be undertaken at the Kochrab Ashram here as part of responsible tourism campaign.

However, the response to the 'Live Gandhi for a While' programme has been lukewarm as not a single person has approached the programme developer in the last one month after its launch, though there have been quite a number of inquiries.

The 'Live Gandhi..' programme, which was launched on October 2, coinciding with the 144th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi, is a first attempt to understand the value and principles of a sustainable life, which Gandhi believed in and practised.

"We believe Mahatma Gandhi was probably the first responsible traveller who travelled across the country, connected with communities, walked down villages, stayed in their homes, tried helping them, solving their problems with minimal impact on the environment," Nischal Barot, a travel agent who helped develop the programme, said.

"Gandhiji's life is an example of responsible tourism. However, responsible tourism has today been replaced by destination-based tourism, driven by commercial interests," Barot points out.

"The objective of this programme is to allow people to find various ways of sustainable lifestyle, enjoy simplicity of Gandhi, experience the virtues of Mahatma," he said.

"This might change perceptions of the tourist towards life, society and our natural resources. This might also help tourist find peace and satisfaction within," he added.

"So far, there are no bookings. There have been several inquiries and we are expecting bookings by December," he said, adding that he has approached Gujarat Tourism for promotional campaign.

"The frantic pace of today's haphazard life can only be altered by leading a sustainable life for which internal peace is must and this can be achieved by living Gandhiji's virtues," Barot said.

The stay at the ashram is not an easy one, he says, as Gandhi's austere way of living will have to be followed.

The Kochrab Ashram was established by Mahatma Gandhi which is now managed by Gujarat Vidyapith. Gandhi had stayed at the ashram, which was owned by his lawyer friend, after he returned to India from South Africa in 1915.

During his stay at the ashram, he had also invited a low-caste man to live there as a part of his campaign against untouchability, which was prevalent in India during pre-independence days.

Sudarshan Iyengar, vice-chancellor of the Gujarat Vidyapith, the university that manages the ashram, said the tourism campaign would help promote Gandhi's ideals.

"This is a unique programme, which will actually bring change in society gradually at an individual level and hopefully we will witness a sustainable future," he said.

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