A colossal mound of salt, shimmering as if lit by moonlight, rises up against the sky, piercing the darkness of the night in defiance proclaiming the relevance of the epic Satyagrah March.
Dandi Kutir or Mahatma Mandir at Gandhinagar, Gujarat is a tribute to the man who preached and practiced non-violence and forced British to acknowledge India as a free independent sovereign nation.
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The British in their power drunken state levied heavy taxes on salt and deemed the age-old method of sea-salt reclamation by locals as illegal. The basic ingredient of food became out of reach for common man.
It was in protest towards such illogical taxes that 89 years ago on 12th March 1930 Mahatma Gandhi set out from Sabarmati Ashram with a handful of people to make salt from sea water on shores of coastal village Dandi. The twenty-four day non-violent march that culminated on shores of Dandi on 6th April began as a small group of 78 and swelled into a wave as thousands joined in along the 240 miles of route till Dandi.
What Gandhi called ‘Satyagrah Yatra‘ or the Salt March, the British termed as ‘Civil Disobedience‘. Gandhi’s act of breaking the salt laws to make salt in Dandi encouraged millions of people across the nation to join in the fight for independence and stand up against the atrocious laws imposed by British. The civil disobedience movement put the Indian struggle for freedom on world stage bolstering the efforts and wish for Purna Swarajya, a complete self-governed country.
The Salt March and principles of Satyagrah had immense influence over Martin Luther King and his fight for civil rights of African-Americans.
And with an aim to honor Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his tireless contributions towards the freedom of the country, Gujarat government built a museum-monument that would be a fitting tribute to the extraordinary life of Mahatma and the legendary Dandi March at Gandhinagar aptly named Mahatma Mandir or Dandi Kutir.
The Museum Monument
The sea salt at Rann of Kutch, Gujarat is produced by evaporating sea water from the salt pans. The salt is then collected in mounds over the dry sand.
The architects from CEPT, Ahmedabad conceptualized the stark white humongous cone-shaped structure of the monument emulating these salt mounds on salt pans dedicated to Salt March, the very important event in Gandhi’s fight for freedom. Befitting the grand stature of Gandhi, the structure rises to a stupendous height and has become one of the most important landmarks of the planned city of Gandhinagar.
The permanent museum is the largest of its kind in world dedicated to life and teachings of only one man.
- Occupying center stage in 60000 square meter area the hollow concrete shell of cone rises to a height of 41 meters and sits on a diameter of 90 meters.
- The apex of cone is a large circular skylight.
- The low height circular plaza around the cone painted a dull brown depicts the sand pan through which the salt mound rises.
- A wide canal of water around the entire structure is symbolic of the sea.
- A suspended bridge from the convention center leads to the cone as a ceremonial entry.
- The salt mound, sand pan and water canal are surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens.
- The hollow cone houses three levels of galleries showcasing life of Mahatma Gandhi from birth to the freedom struggle.
- Glass and steel ramps and staircases lead to various levels besides elevators.
- The interior of cone is deliberately kept bare with rough concrete finish.
- The galleries at different levels use techniques like 3D displays, 360 degree projections, holograph, LED screens, interactive audio, Photographs etc.
- It usually takes 1 hour 30 minutes for complete tour to know details of Mahata Gandhi’s life story in the museum.
How To Reach
- The monument lies in the north-west part of the town of Gandhinagar opposite to Capitol Complex.
- Gandhinagar is connected via road and metro rail to Ahmedabad.
- The international airport of Ahmedabad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport is only 18 km from Gandhinagar.
- It is also connected from Delhi, Ahmedabad and Indore via train network.
- The Dandi Kutir is about 40 minutes drive from Ahmedabad.
Where To Stay
Ahmedabad has many options of budget and luxury hotels.
Other Attractions In Gandhinagar
- Besides Dandi Kutir one can visit Akshardham. A religious place of importance, laser shows are main attractions of this huge complex. Photography of any kind is not allowed. Mobiles are also not allowed inside the complex.
- Buzzing market stalls are right outside the Akshardham for street food, Gujarati embroidered garments and furnishings besides small trinkets.
- Akshardham complex has places to eat as well. Try the Khichadi in the complex.