City Monument – Gandhi’s Samadhi, Rajghat
Official India’s holy shrine.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In our city of tombs, this mausoleum stands without a tomb. This is the site of Mohandas K Gandhi’s cremation.
The stone footpath runs along a manicured lawn. The filthy Yamuna flows nearby; luckily, you cannot see it.
The samadhi – the exact spot of the cremation – is marked by a platform of black marble. Mr Gandhi’s funeral was held on January 31 1948, a day after his assassination at a bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi. The Brahmin assassin, a Hindu nationalist called Nathuram Godse, was hanged a year later in Ambala, a town 120 miles from Delhi.
The light-brown stone wall that circles the samadhi-garden is inscribed at regular intervals with Mr Gandhi’s sayings, translated in different Indian languages. Many touchable Indians call him the ‘Father of the Nation’. A number of untouchable Indians despise him for condescendingly terming them as Harijans, the people of the God.
It is usual to come across tourists, from India and abroad, looking overwhelmed with deeply-felt emotions as if their journey to Mr Gandhi’s memorial was a long-dreamed pilgrimage to a holy shrine.
A flame burns continuously on the black samadhi, which is decorated with yellow marigolds. Hey Ram – believed to be Mr Gandhi’s dying words – are inscribed on the marble in gold lettering.
Not very far, a factory chimney billows out black smoke into Delhi’s grey sky.
Rajghat has samadhis of several other politicians including India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi, and her sons Sanjay and Rajiv. But it is Mr Gandhi’s memorial that features on the itinerary of every visiting foreign dignitary. In 2006, his relative Tushar Gandhi termed it a “national shame” when the US security personnel took a sniffer dog to Rajghat, prior to President George W Bush visit to the samadhi.
History books are silent on Mr Gandhi’s feelings for dogs, but an Oscar-winning film on his life did show him patting a goat.
Where Rajghat, Ring Road Time 9 am to 6 pm Nearest Metro Station Indraprashtha
The father of our nation