Rajghat, the Gandhi Samadhi at the banks of Yamuna, to get a facelift


The proposed revamp plan for Rajghat , the Gandhi Samadhi near Daryaganj, aims to use technology to make the youth know more about Mahatma Gandhi’s life, times and philosophy.

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Raj Ghat

Former US President Barack Obama at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat, during his India visit in 2015. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

One of the Capital’s landmarks, Rajghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on January 31, 1948, is set to undergo a revamp, as approved by the Urban Development Ministry.

The hi-tech project, costing Rs 3 crore, includes setting up of digital screens at Gandhi Samadhi and a centre for interactive learning about Bapu’s life and works. Today, the spot has a black marble platform where almost every diplomat or politician visiting India goes to pay homage to the man who was the harbinger of non-violence in the Indian freedom struggle.

“What Jawahar Lal Nehru had done for the place was beautiful. I haven’t been there for the last two years and would like to know what the government is planning to do,” says Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, granddaughter of Gandhi. Remembering the day when he was cremated, she says, “I have all the memories of that [time]. I was nearly 14 years old, when Bapu was cremated. For a long time, every Friday we used to go there to pray. I liked the place.”

(Above) A view of Mahatma Gandhi ‘s funeral procession near the Delhi Gate (Below): Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Baldev Singh at the Rajghat.

Cut to the present, the upliftment plan is to install three 46-inch LED, around the Samadhi, to display visuals depicting Mahatma’s life, his quotes and the national movement for freedom. There will also be screens for interactive learning through a quiz on the life and work of Gandhi and his speeches.

Funeral of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat as captured by the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

“We have provided whatever digital material was required. Now it’s the decision of the government to take a call on what all will be used,” says A Annamalai, director, National Gandhi Museum and Library. He informs, “Besides the footage of video films on Gandhi, ranging from half-an-hour to one hour, there’s also, Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi (1982) and Shyam Benegal’s The Making of the Mahatma (1996), which we have provided. The first documentary on Gandhi by Chettiar, in Hindi and English, is also in the list of films provided.” Annamalai adds that the technology can be used to teach the youth about the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

A still from the movie Gandhi (1982), directed by Richard Attenborough, which might be screened at the Rajghat post its revamp.

Bhattacharjee is happy that the proposal includes building of ramps to enable easy access for differently-abled persons and toilets accessible to all. “There are fundamental and good that the place will have all these. In brief, a memorial should be very well kept, neat and tidy, and in the original state. At Rajghat, everything should be in harmony with the refinement of Gandhi and the era (in which) the building was built,” she says.

Annamalai says, “We have to spread Mahatma’s message to all. People can use technology to teach his thoughts. But technology shouldn’t overshadow the Gandhian philosophy.”

Recently, there was also news of setting up a Swachh Bharat Mission monitoring centre, at Rajghat, to monitor the progress of the cleanliness project. Will that add more meaning to the memorial?