Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

You are here

Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad

Connection with Gandhiji
Gandhiji stayed at Sabarmati Ashram from 1917 to 1930. Ashram became the center of the independence movement as well as several other activities Gandhiji undertook during this period.

Gandhiji established his first Ashram at Kochrab in 1915. It was in a rented bungalow. The plague broke out in Kochrab in 1917. ‘I saw evident danger to the safety of the Ashram children.’ wrote Gandhiji, ‘Our idea was to have the Ashram at a safe distance both from town and village and yet at a manageable distance from either. And we were determined, someday, to settle on the ground of our own. The plague, I felt, was sufficient notice to quit Kochrab.’

Gandhiji selected land for the Ashram with the help of a local person. Its vicinity to the Sabarmati Central Jail was a special attraction for him.

The Beginning
• Gandhiji prepared a circular letter for funds for Ashram from Motihari, Bihar where he was leading Champaran Satyagraha. It was meant for private circulation only.
• Gandhiji sent a personal appeal for funds for Ashram to V.S. Srinivas Sastry. The letter described activities of the Ashram including (i) weaving by means of handloom (ii) an experiment in evolving a national type of education, (iii) the spread of Hindi as a common medium for educated India. The estimated capital expenditure for buildings was pegged at Rs. 1 Lakh. Funds required for several activities were Rs. 18,000 for the first year.
• The Ashram was shifted from Kochrab to Sabarmati on June 17, 1917. Gandhiji was at Bihar.
• ‘There was no building on the land and no tree. But its situation on the bank of the river and its solitude were great advantages. We decided to start by living under canvas, and having a tin shed for a kitchen, till permanent houses were built.’ wrote Gandhiji.
• The execution of Gandhiji’s concept was done by his close associate and nephew Maganlal Gandhi. The Ashram had a common kitchen where all Ashrmites had their meals together. During the mill-hands’ strike in Ahmedabad, the foundation of the weaving shed was being laid.

Historical Importance
• Many talented and committed people became associates of Gandhiji and stayed at the Ashram with their families. The long list includes Mahadev Desai, Vinoba Bhave, Kaka Kalelkar, Kishorelal Mashruwala, Narhari Parikh, Maganlal Gandhi, Chhaganlal Gandhi, Miraben (Ms. Medeleine Slade).
• Ashram vows were already decided at Kochrab Ashram. Gandhiji elaborated on it in his speech at Madras in 1916.
• During his stay at the Ashram, Gandhiji launched the first countrywide non-cooperation movement, led Kheda Satyagraha, and guided Borsad Satyagraha, Bardoli Satyagraha along with other activities.
• Gandhiji wrote his autobiography in Gujarati સત્યના પ્રયોગો અથવા આત્મકથા (later translated into English as The Story of My Experiments with truth) during this period.
• He founded Gujarat Vidyapith in 1920 to train a new generation in the movement for Swaraj and social upliftment. Earlier he founded a labour union to protect the interests of textile mill workers without ill-will towards the mill-owners.
• An important part of Ashram's life was morning and evening prayers. These included hymns and prayers from several faiths and languages. After pondering over several aspects of daily prayer, Gandhiji opted for prayer in an open-air space, covered in sand, without an idol.
• Pandit Narayan Moreshwar Khare, a disciple of Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar joined the Ashram and took charge of setting the prayers and hymns to music. He compiled Ashram Bhajanavali, a compilation of prayers and hymns.
• The Ashram began to buzz with various activities including farming, building cowsheds, establishing a leather workshop, carpentry, and the crafting of tools for the production of textiles.
• Gandhiji was charged with sedition and was sentenced to his first imprisonment in India in 1922. He was arrested from the Ashram and was taken to the Sabarmati Jail.
• Gandhiji edited a Gujarati weekly Navjivan and an English weekly Young India during his stay at Ashram and after he left the Ashram in 1930.
• The period spent by Gandhiji at the Sabarmati Ashram from 1915 to 1930 altered and refined his personality. It was here he experimented with truth and non-violence, renunciation and refinement of life, service and nursing, love and compassion, and his ideas on public life.

The Salt March and After
• Gandhiji led the Salt March from the Ashram to Dandi in South Gujarat to oppose the unjust and unfair salt tax. Gandhiji, at the age of 61, accomplished a 385 km march, along with 80 fellow marchers, in 25 days walking 15-16 km per day. During the march, Gandhiji pledged not to return to the Ashram until independence was attained.
• After the march and the jail term that followed, he shifted to Sevagram, Wardha.
• In 1933, Gandhiji disbanded the Satyagraha Ashram as part of the struggle against British rule. Later on, citizens of Ahmedabad initiated the Harijan Ashram Trust under his guidance.
• After independence, Gandhiji’s associates and followers formed the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT). The new building for the memorial museum was built and various activities were commenced in 1963.
• Activities in Khadi and Village Industries, Bovine Husbandry and Dairying, Sanitation, and Education are carried out by autonomous trusts.

Digital Experience
Virtual Tour | Audio Guide App (Android) | Audio Guide App (iOS) | Architectural Documents | 3D Model of Artefacts(Sketchfab) | 3D Model of Artefacts

Site Address/Contact Details
Sabarmati Ashram Preservation & Memorial Trust
Gandhi Ashram,
Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya,
Gujarat, India - 380 027
Phone: +91 079 2755 7277 | Fax: +91 079 2756 0569