Under the mound of salt at Dandi Kutir Museum

A visitor walks past a mural of Mahatma Gandhi's freedom movement at Dandi Kutir   | Photo Credit: Ajit Solanki

With warm white light reflecting off its pristine surface, the colossal salt mound shimmers in the dark like a large solitaire. It rises above the skyline of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, dwarfing most structures in the vicinity. This oversized salt mound is Dandi Kutir, dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1930, fed up of the stringent salt laws and British salt monopoly, Gandhi decided to break the salt tax law by proposing a march from Sabarmati ashram to Dandi. The 240-mile march that began on March 12 lasted 24 days with thousands of people along the route joining in for the non-violent, non-cooperative ‘namak andolan’ to reclaim Indian rights to salt. The salt satyagraha sparked nationwide civil disobedience, marking the beginning of the demand for ‘purna swaraj’.

It is the mound of salt that Gandhi made by evaporating sea water at Dandi that became the guiding architectural concept for the museum, Dandi Kutir. The conical structure, also called Mahatma Mandir, rises 41 metres and has a base of 90 metres. The shell of the structure is surrounded by a low plaza painted a dull brown to represent a sand pan and houses a café, museum administration centre and shops. A water canal depicting the sea runs around the structure.

The hollow cone encompasses three floors of galleries dedicated to Gandhi’s journey from childhood to world leader. With LED screens, 360-degree projections, holographs, audio aids, photographs and three-dimensional installations besides artefacts used by Gandhi in his lifetime, the museum is one of its kind. Wide steel stairways and ramps spiral upwards depositing visitors at various levels. While navigating each section takes about an hour-and-a-half, an audio guide enables visitors to choose certain sections.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth, Dandi Kutir may be the best place for a comprehensive understanding of his life. And the next time we sprinkle salt on food, we must thank the Mahatma who fought for it to be on our table.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 5:46:43 AM |

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