Blink and you could miss this unassuming building in the quiet, tree-lined district of Gamdevi. But you’d be wise not to, for behind its modest facade lies a fascinating tale of India’s struggle for freedom and the rise of one of the most respected political and spiritual leaders of the 20th century: Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi stayed here frequently from 1917 to 1934, and the house served as something of a headquarters in Bombay (as Mumbai was then known) for his activities during that time. It was from here that he launched his philosophy of nonviolent protest (Satyagraha), which is still revered throughout the world today, as well as the 1932 civil-disobedience campaign that led to his arrest on the building’s terrace.
Back then, one of his ardent devotees, Shri Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri, owned the house. But since 1955, it has stood as a treasured memorial to the ‘father of the nation’ and a symbol of India’s fight for independence.
Exhibitions providing insight into Gandhi’s life and work include a collection of photographs and press clippings recording moments from his boyhood right up until his assassination in 1948. Visitors will find the room where he lived and worked preserved. In an adjoining room, a detailed diorama depicts scenes that map the chronology of India’s movement for independence and Gandhi’s involvement.
There’s also an extensive assortment of books associated with Gandhi, his philosophies and movements, as well as documents and letters, such as the one he wrote to Hitler in 1939 entreating him, for the sake of humanity, not to go to war.
Even today, decades after Gandhi’s death, Mani Bhavan is a source of inspiration for pacifists and libertarians all over the world. US President Barack Obama famously visited in 2010, and numerous other political figures and celebrities have also come to pay their respects. Open from 9:30am to 6pm daily, it’s a must-do on any visit to Mumbai, and it’s easy to get to by public transport.