Andhra Pradesh

When Tirupati ‘Gandhi Road’ recalls the Mahatma’s visit in 1921

A photograph of Gandhian Tatigari Pala Ramakrishnaiah Mandadi celebrating Independence Day by taking out a procession on Gandhi Road in the year 1961.

A photograph of Gandhian Tatigari Pala Ramakrishnaiah Mandadi celebrating Independence Day by taking out a procession on Gandhi Road in the year 1961. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There was a festive atmosphere on September 28, 1921 in Peddangadi Veedhi (then called ‘Pedda Bazar’), the main commercial street in the little village of Tirupati ahead of the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi. The crowd was bursting at seams with people walking all the way from the nearby villages to see the scrawny man in a loincloth who filled patriotism in every heart.

It was a momentous occasion for the residents to watch the Mahatma walk along with them and address a public meeting. There were street light points at major junctions, which are known today as Balaji Colony Circle, Town Club Circle, Hathiramji Mutt (Poola Matam) and Nalugukalla Mandapam.

Metal cauldrons with burning torches were placed on tall poles installed at these spots. Gandhiji walked under the brightness of these street lights. It was in memory of his visit that the street was renamed as ‘Gandhi Road’, which is known by this name even today.

Tatigari Pala Ramakrishnaiah Mandadi, a staunch Gandhian running a tea outlet here, made arrangements for the meeting and accorded a rousing reception to the Mahatma for that historic event. The tea shop transformed into ‘Ramakrishna Bakery’ after independence and remained a popular hangout for those with nationalist thoughts till late seventies.

“His contemporaries used to recall ‘those were the days’ kind of anecdotes and share memories with us while having a cup of tea,” says his maternal grandson P. Kumar, who runs the bakery today.

Painted in tricolour, the outlet resembles a museum with rare black and white pictures of the freedom movement dotting the walls. Even after independence, Ramakrishnaiah Mandadi used to observe the Independence Day and Gandhi’s death anniversary with his own funds every year, on the same ‘Gandhi Road’.

Gandhiji visited Srikalahasti town in May 1929, with a call to boycott foreign clothes. In December 1933, he visited Tirupati again to mobilise funds for the ‘Harijan movement’. It was during this trip that the Mahatma had discussed with the Devasthanam officials on temple entry for Harijans.

Many leaders like Madabhushi Anantasayanam Ayyangar (Tirupati), Vajravelu Chetty (Palamaner), R. Govindaswamy Naidu (Parameswara Mangalam) and T. Ramachandra (Madanapalle) shot to fame later by participating in civil disobedience movement and Salt Satyagraha, but the seeds of nationalism were sown first in this ‘Gandhi Road’ event.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 12:40:17 pm |