Mani Bhavan – A Fragment of Mahatma Gandhi’s Life

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Here is where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi resided between 1917 – 1934, whenever he was in Bombay (now Mumbai). Many of his historic movements like Non-corporation, Satyagraha, Swadeshi and Khadi movement have been initiated from here. The residence gets its name as it originally belonged to a Mani’ family and later to Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri, a friend and host of Gandhi in Bombay during pre-independence. Mani Bhavan has been a place of gathering for some of the key Indian leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subash Chandra Bose and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.

Mani Bhavan

Mani Bhavan

Mani Bhavan Residence

Exterior of Mani Bhavan has still been retained. Moment you step feet in here, you are transferred into the past of India’s most important man. Pictures (mostly black and white) of Gandhi, Baa (his wife) and his friends & colleagues adorn the walls of this tucked away residence.

Mahatma Gandhi with a young Indira Gandhi (Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter and India's first women Prime Minister)

Mahatma Gandhi with a young Indira Gandhi (Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter and India’s first women Prime Minister)

Each level of the 2 storeyed house is beautifully designed to enlighten visitors on life of Gandhi. Ground level has a reception and some photographs of young Gandhi. A library is present that houses a plethora of books on law (Gandhi was a lawyer by profession), his biographies and the journey of Indian independence. Often readers and Gandhian followers make themselves comfortable in the library and drown themselves in gaining knowledge about his life and way of living. At the entrance, there is a Karl Marx stone presented to Mani Bhavan by U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on their visit in 2010.

First level displays photographs of Gandhi with prominent leaders, his followers, friends and other established individuals from varied walks of life. The standout picture is of Gandhi and a handsome but rather unrecognizable Charlie Chaplin without his trademark moustache, hat and stick.

Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin (Centre)

Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin (Centre)

Second level presents Dioramas (miniature clay models) depicting important moments from Gandhi’s life during pre-independence and post independence including his assassination.

The incident when Gandhi was asked to leave the train while his stay in South Africa

The incident when Gandhi was asked to leave the train while his stay in South Africa

Diorama depicting the boycott of foreign cloth

 Diorama depicting the boycott of foreign cloth

A Diorama depicting Gandhi's assassination

A Diorama depicting Gandhi’s assassination

The second level also houses Gandhi’s famous Charkha. Along with it, there are his chappals, his stick and a few of his vessels on display.

The room with Gandhi's famous Charkha

The room with Gandhi’s famous Charkha

The entire Gandhian experience can be captured with your lens as photography is allowed. It was bemusing to find only 1 cop on-duty at Mani Bhavan considering the place holds historic value. Neither were we frisked nor our baggage checked.

In spite of its prime location down town, popularly South Mumbai, it was saddening to see Mani Bhavan flocked solely by Gandhi followers, international tourists and some NRIs around the vicinity.

Some suggestions that could result in increase in the number of visitors:

  • Mani Bhavan should be on the Mumbai darshan/tour itinerary.
  • Should be made part of school educational programmes.
  • A small section of the house can continuously be dedicated to exhibiting Khadi cloth (which Gandhi always propagated) and handicrafts. This will also help generate revenue for the museum.

Journey of the Indian National flag

Journey of the Indian National flag

Is Mani Bhavan worth a visit?

Probably Yes!

It’s a low-key museum, but in all fairness it should be visited to get an insight into the life of a man who fought for Indian Independence. Even astonishing is the fact that he chose to fight non-violently.

Mani Bhavan Mumbai Address

#19 Laburnum road, Gamdevi, near August Kranti Maidan, Grant road, Mumbai

The Museum is open on all days from 9:30 to 6 pm

Entry to Mani Bhavan is free

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

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