I happened to visit the Indira Gandhi Memorial by chance, after having a few hours spare before boarding my flight back to Mumbai. It’s a bit of a “not-so-pleasant’ fact that I visited Delhi but did absolutely no local sightseeing (except this museum), as I was supposed to be visiting a conference. Such is the life of a Corporate slave! Never mind.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial was the residence of former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The location has been converted into a museum as a tribute to the late politician and stands in the posh political region of Safdarjung Road in New Delhi.
Indira Gandhi moved into this house after her father Jawaharlal Nehru’s death in 1964 and lived her until her assassination in 1984. She was the first woman Prime Minister of India and served in office twice for a collective period of 15 years. Her role was crucial in some of the landmark decisions for the nation such as Nationalizing banks, Garibi Hatao programme, Declaration of Emergency in 1975 and Decision to call off the Elections in 1977. All of these actions were taken in this residence while she was in power.
The museum is a compact but lovely little place worth visiting due to the large amount information made available on Mrs. Gandhi through newspaper cuttings and exhibits of her personal belongings, letters to her children and her diary. Rare candid photographs of Mrs. Gandhi and her family also adorn the museum walls.
A crucial display includes Mrs. Gandhi’s bag, her chappals and her blood stained saree when assassinated. She had ordered the Operation Blue Star which gave military forces special powers to fire inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar to eliminate political revolutionary Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers. The aftermath saw thousands of innocent Sikh deaths which infuriated the community and eventually led to her assassination in 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards.
The final few meters of her walk towards Akbar Road for a media interview on 31st October, 1984, has been covered with crystal glass symbolizing a river in flow. The exact location where she fell after being shot is covered with glass.
The museum also houses precious displays of Rajiv Gandhi – her son who served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1989. Unfortunately, even he was assassinated by a suicide bomber when campaigning in a small town near Chennai in 1991. Rajiv Gandhi’s shoes, socks and a patch of his clothing that was recovered are now part of the museum exhibit.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial ends up giving a nice glimpse into the homes of affluent Indian politicians. Through glass windows, visitors enjoy views of Indira Gandhi’s dressing room, her dining room, the hall, her bedroom and the most impressive room of the house – her study.
The Museum has more pros than cons. The only two negatives I wish to point are: 1) The large amount of crowd on weekends. I fail to comprehend why toddlers are brought to museums. 2) I understand that the museum may have a restriction on carrying liquids inside the premises but that does not reason them to keep the entrance in a mess with empty bottles thrown outside.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial is a good concept and has enough informational material to make it worth a visit. Besides, it is a welcome change from the much talked about touristy sites of Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Jama Masjid and the likes.
No. 1, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi- 110 011
9:30 am to 4:45 pm (closed on Mondays)
Free of charge
Allowed (free of charge)
Some more exhibits and newspaper cuttings