Gujarat is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace but Delhi is where he spent the last 144 days of his life before his assassination on January 30, 1948.
In many nooks and corners of the capital, you can spot statues and murals of the Father of the Nation, a quiet reminder of our freedom struggle and the ideas of ahimsa.
Just ahead of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2, we bring you a trail of the Mahatma’s presence in Delhi and its suburbs.
The iconic statue is installed at the head of Sardar Patel Marg, near President’s Estate. Sculpted by celebrated artist Deviprasad Roychowdhury, the statue was independent India’s tribute to generations of Indians who struggled for freedom, with Gandhi leading the way. The 10 statues behind Gandhi’s depict people of different religions and economic status moving forward as one India. Look carefully, and you’ll see Gandhi’s pair of glasses missing. It’s said they were stolen over a decade ago though the local police could not confirm it. An image of this statue graces the back of Rs 500 note.
Made in bronze by sculptor and painter Ram Vanji Sutar, the statue was installed on the Parliament premises near gate number one on Gandhi Jayanti in 1993. It is 16 feet high and shows Gandhi in a pose of meditation . Sutar’s son, Anil Sutar, says the statue was originally to be installed under the canopy at India Gate. But the plan was shelved and the statue, that took two years to make, was then installed at the Parliament. The idea was to place it in a way that when Parliamentarians leave the building, they can see Gandhi in a state of peace.
A fibre glass work by Ram Vanji Sutar, the statue of Gandhi with a boy and a girl holding a dove in their hands standing on either side, emerging out of a globe, greets visitors at the main entrance of Gandhi Smriti. Housed in the Old Birla House on 5, Tees January Marg, this is where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The Old Birla House was acquired by the Centre in 1971 and was converted into a National Memorial that opened to the public on August 15, 1973. Over 2,500 visitors come here on a daily basis to see the room where Mahatma lived in his final days and breathed his last. The building and the landscape have been preserved as they were in those days.
At the congested intersection of ITO, this 150-ft mural leaves makes passersby crane their necks to get a good look. The mural is the handwork of German artist Hendrick Beikirch and Indian painter Anpu Varkey for St+art, a street art festival. Delhi Police and the organizers discussed the use of the blank wall and finally commissioned Gandhi’s mural. Shanti, Seva, Nyay (Peace, Service, Justice) – the slogan of Delhi Police – were also ideas that Gandhi believed in. It was completed on January 30, 2014, after 5 days of relentless work. In an interview to HT a couple of months later, Varkey remembered how they had to keep going to the rooftop of the mosque nearby to get a full view of their work.
This Gandhi bust in the middle of the district Police Lines is perhaps the only one in Gurgaon. Every year politicians, district police and administration officials pay tribute to the Mahatma by garlanding this statue. There is no record about the date of installation but old timers say it was here before the 1970s. Recently, the portion on which the bust stands was renovated.
Installed at Gandhi Park in Lohiya Nagar, it is the only statue of the Mahatma in Ghaziabad. The park is close to the old bus stand and witnesses massive traffic over the main road which connects to NH-58. The statue is covered on four sides with glass, but the upper portion is open, leading to a film of dust accumulating over the statue. The base is in shambles and the plaster is peeling off. The statue was inaugurated by former UP chief minister ND Tiwari in August 1985. It is one of the 30 statues at the park and private agencies have been hired to maintain them in lieu of free advertising rights. But it remains unkempt. Deputy municipal commissioner SK Tiwari says if there is anything lacking or maintenance is required, it will be expedited.
(With inputs from Ritam Halder, Vibha Sharma, Gulam Jeelani and Peeyush Khandelwal)