Monday 31 December 2012

The Mahatma in Bangalore

Mahatma Gandhi has a special attachment to Bangalore where he stayed during his visits to Karnataka, particularly to recuperate at Nandi Hills.
Old-timers still recall the 45 days that a frail and ailing Gandhi stayed at Nandi Hills during 1936 when he had very high blood pressure. The doctors had advised him complete rest and he chose Nandi Hills to recuperate.
Gandhi stayed at the present Gandhi Bhavan. The bhavan is being renovated. The building was earlier under the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), but now the State Government has transferred its management to the Department of Tourism.
The Tourism Department has taken up work on expansion and renovation of Gandhi Bhavan at a cost of Rs. 25 lakh. The garden, which has a statute of Mahatma Gandhi, is also being improved.
When he left Nandi Hills on May 31, his secretary, Mahadeva Joshi, wrote in the visitor’s book: “Many thanks for all the kindness extended during Gandhiji's stay on the hill.”
Gandhi stayed on in Bangalore from May 31 to June 10, 1936. He went to Kengeri and from there went to Madras.
When in Nandi Hills, Gandhi was a frequent visitor to Madaku Hosahalli village at the foothills and conducted bhajans. A large number of local people participated in the bhajans and the people later renamed the village as Gandhipura.
Vemagal Somashekar, a writer, has written about Gandhi’s stay in Nandi Hills and the village in his book, “Nandi Giridhamadalli Mahatma Gandhi.”
Rudrapatnam Shamasastry (1868–1944), Sanskrit scholar and librarian at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, who discovered the Arthashastra in the institute and translated it, met Gandhi in 1927 at Nandi Hills where he was camping and presented him with his translated copy of  the Arthashastra.
Shamashastry had discovered the Arthashastra in 1925. Gandhi appreciated the book aswell as the efforts of the Sanskrit scholar in bringing to light one of the foremost books of ancient India.
Gandhi also visited Bangalore in 1934 to collect funds for the “Harijan Fund”.  He held a series of meetings at a place in Malleswaram where a club stands today. He also visited Malleswaram Ladies Club in 1934 where ladies donated their jewellery for the national cause.
The club has preserved this visit pictorially
Gandhi visited Karnataka eigthteen times and he was in Bangalore fourteen times.
Apart from Gandhi Sahitya Sangha, the present day Gandhi Bhavan and his homestay on Nandi Hills are the only places that has been preserved.
The Mahatma also stayed at Kumara Krupa Guest House for a month. When Gandhi came to Bangalore in 1927, there was a big reception for him organised at several places. His first public meeting then was at the Yeshwanthpur railway station when the train halted.
The then Maharaja of Mysore, gave Gandhi the status of a State guest and put him up along with his followers at Kumara Krupa guest house. Rajaji stayed here along with Gandhi. As Rajaji and others were fond of coffee, a temporary kitchen where coffee was available at all times was set up. Gandhi, however, preferred his cup of tea or milk. He is believed not have tasted the coffee. 
The Maharaja also ensured that Gandhi and his followers had simple vegetarian food. He also arranged for other simple facilities, including medicines. However, there is no signboard or memorial about this stay at the guest house.
The other places in Bangalore associated with Gandhiji’s visit have been forgotten and converted into commercial places.
The place where Gandhi held prayer meetings, Kumara Park, is a five-star swimming pool. However, there is a board saying “this was the place where Gandhiji used to hold prayers’.
Gandhi also visited the Mahila Seva Samaja and during his first visit at the request of D V Gundappa (DVG) attended a prayer meeting to mark the death of Gopala Krishna Gokhale in Basavanagudi locality of Bangalore.
Of all Gandhi’s  visit to Bangalore, his third stay was the longest. It lasted from April 20, 1927  to August 30, 1927-a total of 87 days.
Today, we have Gandhinagar and MG Road in remembrance to the Mahatma. Both these places are unGandhian in the sense that they are not what the great man stands for.


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