The Gandhi Museum was opened in memory of Mahathma Gandhi in 15-04-1959 by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Museum is housed inside the historic Rani Mangammal Palace. The Gandhi museum in Madurai is one of the only five museums of the kind in the country. The place once an abode of queen Mangammal of the Nayak dynasty of Madurai, now serves as an important landmark for visitors to the city.
The palace was granted to All India Gandhi Smarak Nidhi by the Tamil Nadu State Government to be used as a Gandhi Memorial in 1955. It sits over an area of 13 acres.
All India Gandhi Smarak Nidhi spent lots of money to establish Gandhi memorials in certain places of the country. The Madurai Gandhi museum is just one of the seven wings in this project.
Among its collections are 27,000 letters written to or by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. One is a personal letter written by him to Narayanan Sathsangi, another message congratulating freedom fighter/ poet Subramanya Bharati and yet another letter addressed to the German dictator Adolf Hitler. The latter has been much discussed owing to the Mahatma addressing him as a Dear Friend.
A 265 illustration assemblage named “India Fights for Freedom” depicts the history of the Freedom Struggle in India.
Another section casts a Visual Biography of Bapuji through photos, canvas, statues, manuscripts and quotations. It displays 124 rare photographs portraying the phases in the life of the Mahatma, right from his childhood, his work in Africa, emergence as a freedom fighter till his death.
Among the relics section there are about 14 articles used by Gandhiji during his lifetime here including his a Blood Stained Cloth. It is reportedly the same cloth which had been used by him on the day of his assassination in 1948. It has been placed here to commemorate his first use of dhoti as a mark of native pride, which happened to be in Madurai.
One of the interests of Gandhiji was to promote village industries and khadi units. The Khadi section in the museum has several exhibits of crafts made by village industries and khadi units. Near the entrance a replica of Gandhi’s hut is placed. The hut in which Gandhi lived was witness to many important nationally significant decisions like the Quit India movement. It has come to be called ‘Gandhi Kutir’; meaning Gandhi’s hut.
The Gandhi Memorial Peace Park holds a portion of his sacred ashes. The rest of it was mixed with holy waters in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma on various occasions by different people and is a part of the ashes are believed to be still in possession of certain people. Visitors pay their respects to Gandhi here by maintaining a moments silence.
The museum also has a library, housing a very large collection of books related to Gandhian Studies/Peace Studies. With 32, 000 books and periodicals and 20000 members, both national and international, it is considered the largest of its kind in South India.
An indoor theatre makes available to the visitor audio / video equipments and LCD Projector, CDs and Videos on Freedom Fighters of India, Mahatma Gandhi, Environmentalism and Disarmament. Educational crowd are accommodated, 100 at a time to avail these facilities at no cost at all.
Programmes and Activities
Special programmes are held on the day of Gandhi Jayanti or October 2nd. After early morning decorations, the staff immerses themselves in spinning, a form of silent prayer for Gandhians. Later inter-religious prayers are arranged to which the public are also invited. On days just before or after the day, many events are held to celebrate the occasion. Many prominent speakers give talks or hold debates on Mahatma Gandhiji and his life; or participants perform on the same theme. These events are popular among the general public and as many as thousands gather to watch them.
Other important days commemorated are the Independence Day (August 15), his martyrdom day (January 30) and Freedom fighter’s Day (August 9).
Apart from these occasions, weekly inter-religious prayer meetings are held to keep the Gandhian spirit alive.
Smaller ex situ activities like lecture series, exhibitions in schools, courses in Nonviolence & Gandhian Thought, yoga and meditation classes, Hindi and Sanskrit courses etc. also form part of the Gandhi Museum’s day to day agenda.
Right from its inception, the Gandhi Museum in Madurai has had a red carpet list of guests starting from the first prime minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a spree of presidents of the country, honorable religious leaders Dalai Lama; to eminent people like Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife.
The museum is one of the few Peace Museums of the United Nations’ Organization throughout the world.
Gandhi Museum Timings
Gandhi Museum is open from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and from 2:45 PM to 5:30 PM. Friday is the weekly holiday for Gandhi Museum.
Geographic Location of Gandhi Museum
The Geographical Location of Gandhi Museum is 9°55'47.7"N 78°08'19.1"E or 9.929923, 78.138629.