HomeLifestyleThe Coimbatore house where Mahatma Gandhi stayed is now a memorial

The Coimbatore house where Mahatma Gandhi stayed is now a memorial

The nearly forgotten tile-roofed house in which Gandhi stayed for two days during his visit to Coimbatore has been converted into a memorial with a library and photo gallery.

The nearly forgotten tile-roofed house in which Gandhi stayed for two days during his visit to Coimbatore has been converted into a memorial with a library and photo gallery.

Gandhi’s day was very long. He was in the Coimbatore leg of his journey in the Madras Presidency, collecting funds for his Harijan welfare organisation. By the time he reached the guest house in Podanur, a suburb of Coimbatore, it was 11 pm. But he was unwilling to retire for the night; Not when he had accounting work to do – the money collected in Coimbatore was one-fourth of the total amount collected for the presidency. By the time he went to bed it was 2 o’clock, and he was up at 4 o’clock.

This happened on February 6, 1934.

Eighty-eight years later, I go into the same house, and stand at the entrance of the small room where Gandhi used to do his accounts. A lantern is sitting in a corner, near a low table. A white mattress is stretched along the wall, and a Charkha is standing in front of him. It is late evening and in a short time when the traffic slows down and silence fills the air, I feel the weight of the moment.

The house is open for public viewing through October 2. Anything could have happened to it in the years following Gandhi’s visit: it could have been demolished or changed beyond recognition. But it has survived, giving people a chance to remember the life and times of the person who came here.

Mahatma Gandhi stayed in this house during his visit to Coimbatore from 6th to 7th February, 1934.

Mahatma Gandhi stayed in this house during his visit to Coimbatore from February 6 to February 7, 1934. Photo Credit: Shiv Saravanan

The house belongs to the family of inventor and entrepreneur GD Naidu, who is known for his contribution to engineering. It has now been restored as the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial House, which houses a photo gallery, library, semi-open conference space, and reproductions of artifacts used by Gandhi, such as his glasses, Ingersoll clock, rosary, and Charkha,

The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial House houses a photo gallery, library, semi-open conference space and replicas of the artifacts used by Gandhi.

The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial House houses a photo gallery, library, semi-open conference space and replicas of the artifacts used by Gandhi. photo credit: Shiv Saravanan

tile roof structure game a thinnai (front courtyard); On the inside walls, there are photographs detailing the significance of the GD House and events during Gandhi’s visit, such as the laying of the foundation stone of the Sri Ramakrishna Vidyalaya. ‘GD Naidu bungalow was occupied by the school,’ reads one display. He laid the foundation stone in front of the house after the students sang prayer songs on the morning of 7 February.

A small library is coming up inside the adjoining room and in a nearby building, a photo gallery takes the audience through the life story of Gandhi. There are photographs of letters written by him to important people like Tagore; a note in his famously simple handwriting; There is even a copy of his matriculation examination result from 1887.

A small library is coming up inside the adjoining room and in a nearby building, a photo gallery takes viewers through the life story of Gandhi

A small library is coming up inside the adjoining room and in a nearby building, a photo gallery takes the audience through the life story of Gandhi. photo credit: Shiv Saravanan

GD House, a few years back, was actually full of weeds, with nothing but a marble statue of Gandhi in front. “One day I overtook it,” recalls BK Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, chairman of Kumaraguru Institutions Group in the city. Curious, he jumped from his car and tried to see what was inside. “An elderly gentleman wearing khadi approached me and said that this house belonged to the family of GD Naidu and Gandhi had stayed there,” says Krishnaraj. “He asked me to talk to the family and see if anything could be done to restore it.”

Soon, Krishnaraja Naidu’s son GD reached out to Gopal, and things picked up pace. The pandemic slowed things down, but keeping the original architecture intact, the architects have opened the dream home with architects working on its renovation.

According to Shankara Vanavarayar, son of Krishnaraja and chairman of Kumaraguru Institutions, the GD House in Tamil Nadu is probably the only existing structure in which Gandhi stayed during his visit to the state. He sees the memorial as an “active hub” that will drive the idea of ​​leadership among the people by involving organizations working with youth and educational institutions.

To the elderly man who started it all, Krishnaraja does not remember his name. He probably sat on it, on October 2, the day of the inauguration, with a cloth bag hanging over his shoulder. thinnai Gandhi fell asleep on the night of 6 February 1934.

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