We had gone to Delhi in summer holidays and my little ones’ (8 and 6) big highlight was a visit to Rajghat (Gandhiji’s memorial) and the adjacent Gandhi museum.
Btw, Rajghat is the samadhi or the cremation site for Gandhiji near the banks of river Yamuna.
Some context: this strange fascination for Gandhiji? What happened to Superman?
Okay, now to clarify they are not really goody-goody precocious as they sound here (don’t we all want them to adore Gandhi instead of Shah Rukh Khan?). But this time, I was pleasantly thrilled with this fascination for Gandhiji and really impressed by Rajghat as well...
It all started with my daughter’s class last year (when she was in 2nd grade). As part of their EVS subject, these little one’s imaginations were fired with great personalities like Gandhi and Mother Theresa—thanks to their teachers. We were going to Delhi, my daughter’s Bangalore classmate remarked, “Wow, you are lucky, you are going to Dilllli Uma, you will get to see where Gandhiji is deaddddd” in her cute Bengaluru accent. So, of course Rajghat was added to our Delhi list along with all the chola bhaturas, chaat, my shopping, India Gate etc.
So we reach Delhi, and their nani dotingly asks so what all they wanted to do in Delhi and is pleasantly surprised to hear “where Gandhiji is deadddd”. â�º
So off we went to Rajghat...
... on a warm April day. We left early morning around 8. Actually it opens much earlier—around 6 every morning (scroll down for the practical details like timings etc.).
I was very happy to see a very well maintained place. I guess to be expected—it is a big tourist spot after all. But still... Lovely expansive green lawns. A long stone path leads to the Samadhi. There is a big black marble platform with Amar Jyoti (eternal flame) burning. There is a “He Ram” written in Hindi and there are soft hymns playing. The whole atmosphere is quite charged really. A good feel about that place. Yes, we did get senti.
In fact, there was a big group from a village in Gujrat visiting and this one lady was doing matha tekko there to the shrine. I was going to leave when my daughter tugged me and looked at me and tried to fold her hands in respect and prayer. Oh I was so touched and I nodded excitedly in encouragement. So we all folded hands in and closed our eyes—thanks to my kids I could go down memory lane again and experience all this!
We also went to the Gandhi museum nearby. The kids really enjoyed seeing Gandhiji’s dentures/teeth, his belongings like his old utensils, dhoti, specs, khadau chappals etc. They also saw the clothes he had spun, his spinning wheel and were looked big-eyed at his blood stained dhoti displayed there.
To top it nani gets them Gandhi the movie to watch...
They were so excited about watching the movie, so we used it for bribing, made them eat dinner fast and by 8ish they were plonked in front of the TV watching the movie. Whew! I did not believe it! They were totally engrossed. In fact their older cousins dropped by and wanted to put on a DVD or watch IPL and they were stunned to find the little ones watching Gandhi. “Maasi, how boring...”. I shushed them coz did not want to break the spell that my little ones had for Gandhiji. We went to the other room and laughed at the cute little ones.
Guess what bedtime stories, nani read to them that week?
Yes. The book that she got them and the stories she told them. About his great qualities: how he thought differently, determination, his Dandi march to make salt, his passion for hindu-muslim unity, the fasting, his work in making India independent etc. etc. Also, his human qualities like his bad handwriting, how he conquered his shyness in front of talking to the public... nani tried to simplify and in their language...and they lapped it all up.
Gandhi, the Superman, Gandhi, the Mickey Mouse (as Sarojini Naidu used to jest with him)—can be a big hit with today’s kids! â�º
Also made me realize: So many of our biases about things and people, if boring or interesting get rubbed on to kids. They have such a fresh mind about things and are such sponges.
A big thumbs up to taking kids and yourself to Rajghat and the Gandhi museum in Delhi.
- Timings: Open all 7 days. April to Sept open from 5 am to 7:30 pm and from Oct to March, open from 5:30 am to 7 pm.
- There is ample parking
- Go early in summers to beat the heat
- Gandhi museum http://www.gandhimuseum.org