#19 Laburnum road, Gamdevi, near August Kranti Maidan, Grant road, Mumbai
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 the place originally belonged to the Mani family and later to Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri, a friend and host of Gandhi in Bombay during the pre independence era. Mani Bhavan has also been a place of gathering for some key Indian leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subash Chandra Bose and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.
The exterior of Mani Bhavan has still been retained; And the 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.
Each level of the 2 storeyed house is beautifully designed to enlighten visitors on the life of Gandhi. On the ground level, there is a reception, some photographs of young Gandhi and a library which 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.
The 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.
The Second level presents Diorama’s (miniature clay models) depicting important moments from Gandhi’s life during pre-independence, post independence and including his assassination.
The second level also houses Gandhi’s famous Charkha. Along with the it, there are his chappals, his stick and a few of his vessels on display.
The entire Gandhian experience can be captured with your lens as photography is allowed. The entry to Mani Bhavan is also free. 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 also saddening to see Mani Bhavan flocked solely by Gandhi followers, international tourists and some NRI’s 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.
Is it worth a visit?
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 more astonishing is the fact that he fought Non-violently.
The Museum is open on all days from 9:30 to 6 pm