Gandhi’s footsteps in Lucknow
Mahatma Gandhi’s life is full of instances where his heroism and patriotism reflects. One such movement was the Champaran Movement, the seeds of which were actually sown in Lucknow during the 31st Congress session in December 1916. The 1916 Congress session is also historic because Lucknow Pact between Congress and Muslim League was signed, laying the foundation of Hindu and Muslim unity against British colonialism.
The journey of Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiration for all. And this journey was for giving the nation a better future, Lucknow was one of the significant stops for Gandhi. Here are some of his prominent visits and stops in the city.
Rifa-e-Aam Club (October 15, 1920)
Gandhi spoke of discipline in taking the non-cooperation movement forward during a public gathering at the Rifa-e-Aam Club. He spoke about organizing an army of 30 million Indians for non-cooperation; settling of Khilafat movement question on behalf of Indians; and securing justice for Punjab, besides India’s freedom. This was the place where the historic Lucknow Pact was signed.
Speech at Charbagh, Lucknow Railway Station (February 11, 1920)
Gandhi said, “no time for speeches, but for action”. Only students of University of Lucknow (then Canning College) were to attend this meeting, but the entire city of Lucknow turned up to listen to him. Gandhi asked students to leave government (British) schools and take up a spinning wheel to produce coarse cloth. This, he said, would help attain ‘Swaraj’ or self-rule.
Open-air meeting beside Gomti (February 26, 1921)
Speaking in Urdu, Gandhi asked people to come out in numbers, to understand the meaning of Swaraj and act on things needed to attain it. He spoke about the massacre of Jalianwala Bagh and the power of India’s strength. He asked people to establish ‘panchayats’ ( self-governed bodies) and abide by their decision instead of the British court of laws.
Speech at National School, Chinhat (February 27, 1921)
Gandhi spoke of non-cooperation and being non-violent while inaugurating the school. He asked people not to bribe students to boycott British schools, but to make them understand the importance of not studying in British schools. He said if students understood it to be a sin, they themselves would boycott government schools on their own.
Gokhale Marg (March 1936)
In one of the posh localities of Lucknow, Gokhale Marg, there exists a large banyan tree. The tree has a special place in the history as the sapling of the tree was sown by Gandhi when he visited the Kaul family (congress politician’s family).
Speech at Aminabad Jhandewala Park (August 7, 1921)
It was raining heavily leading to chaos. Muhammad Ali asked the audience to be silent as Gandhi was supposed to enter a 24-hour ‘fast of silence’. Umbrellas were not used. Gandhi spoke of non-violence, against abuse and about the Swadeshi movement (developing Indian nationalism with an economic strategy).
University of Lucknow (September 27, 1929)
The historical Bennett Hall (now Malviya Hall) was blessed with the Mahatma’s presence. The occasion was the launch of the Lucknow University Students’ Union. In his inaugural address, Gandhi asked students to boycott foreign goods and adopt Khadi (hand-woven fabric produced by Indians).
Gandhi stayed at Firangi Mahal.
Bapu’s footprints in Firangi Mahal: Among the many untouched treasures of Firangi Mahal is a pair of intricately crafted Khadau (wooden slippers) that was worn by Mahatma Gandhi during his stays at the house of Maulana Abdul Bari, an influential mass leader of the United Provinces in the late 19th and early 20th century. Tornos’ Heritage Walk includes a visit to Firangi Mahal.
Tornos is organizing special tours to track the footsteps of Gandhi in Lucknow through 2019-20 to celebrate 150 years of Gandhi’s birth anniversary. His life was truly inspirational and each of us sees him differently, but the best part is, he is still relevant to all of us.