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More Indians are exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s life in South Africa by curated tour packages

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Indian vacationers prepare for the Gandhi-Mandela tour in South Africa.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Keshav Gupta, a younger social activist from New Delhi, had at all times wished to go to Sarvodaya, the home the place Mahatma Gandhi lived in Durban, South Africa. When he lastly did final yr, he was elated. “It felt inspiring to be at the Phoenix Settlement in KwaZulu-Natal where Gandhiji was based. It felt special to be in the house and to learn about his continuing influence in society,” says Gupta, who visited Durban once more just lately to attend a convention organised to commemorate the a hundred and thirtieth anniversary of Gandhi’s removing from a first-class prepare compartment at Pietermaritzburg railway station on June 7, 1893.

A bust of Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg railway station.

A bust of Gandhi at Pietermaritzburg railway station.
| Photo Credit:
Getty Images

More than a century after he left the nation, Gandhi continues to encourage and affect the socio-political discourse in South Africa. There are museums devoted to the Mahatma and particular excursions protecting the locations and establishments related together with his life. And more and more, these are of curiosity to not simply the typical South African vacationer but additionally to Indians from all over the world. “Each year, around 800 Indians visit Constitution Hill, where Gandhi was jailed in 1906,” says Janine Levinia Muthusamy, advertising and marketing supervisor, Constitution Hill Museum.

The former jail and army fort has been transformed right into a museum showcasing the historical past of South Africa’s battle for freedom and democracy. “The museum also offers a Mandela-Gandhi exhibition,” says Muthusamy.

Constitution Hill Museum in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Constitution Hill Museum in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
| Photo Credit:
Getty Images

From January to March this yr, about 16,000 vacationers from India visited South Africa, says the nation’s tourism minister Patricia de Lille. There are itineraries catering completely to Indians within the Gandhi expertise. For occasion, the six-night ‘Explore Gandhi’ tour bundle, which begins at ₹5 lakh, contains vegetarian meals and a two-night keep every in Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban. “Visitors can also experience the Gandhi-Mandela tour at Pietermaritzburg in a special coach,” says Bunny Bhoola, deputy chair of Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Foundation. A go to to Tolstoy Farm in Johannesburg, a safari and tour of Sun City to study conventional village life in KwaZulu Natal are additionally a part of the bundle.

A file photo of former minister Sushma Swaraj at Pietermaritzburg railway station.

A file picture of former minister Sushma Swaraj at Pietermaritzburg railway station.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Soaking in historical past

Last week, a gaggle of 15 vacationers from Mumbai left for Durban on a Gandhi tour. Last yr, 53 Indians had taken the identical tour. “There’s a continuing interest among Indians, especially middle-aged people, to know more about Gandhi’s life in South Africa,” says Syed M. Mujeeb, General Manager of Aerowings Travel and Cargo Agency, Hyderabad, which organises the Gandhi excursions. “They are keen to visit the Gandhi ashrams and prisons where his wife Kasturba and he were imprisoned,” he provides.

Sarvodaya, the house where Gandhi lived in Durban.

Sarvodaya, the home the place Gandhi lived in Durban.
| Photo Credit:
Getty Images

A bust of Gandhi at Phoenix Settlement in KwaZulu-Natal.

A bust of Gandhi at Phoenix Settlement in KwaZulu-Natal.
| Photo Credit:
Okay.S. Sudhi

Recently, in India, Prime Minister Modi drew ire from a number of quarters when he mentioned in an interview that Gandhi turned identified globally solely after the discharge of Attenborough’s 1982 movie. Political leaders and critics have been fast to level to the hordes of worldwide personalities who drew inspiration from the Mahatma in his lifetime. “Several leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, have acknowledged the influence of Gandhiji on the social movements in their countries,” says Ela Gandhi, his granddaughter and former South African politician. “The Gandhian way of non-violent agitations left a deep impact on the American civil rights movement led by King in the 1960s. Various leaders of the African National Congress too acknowledged the influence of Gandhian ideals in their freedom struggle.”

Ela Gandhi, former South African politician and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi.

Ela Gandhi, former South African politician and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi.
| Photo Credit:
Getty Images

Opinions might differ relying on which aspect of the political spectrum one belongs to, however for the typical Indian vacationer, Gandhi occupies satisfaction of place within the historical past of the nation. “During my visit to Durban, I had the opportunity to meet Ela Gandhi, and she showed me some of her childhood photographs with Gandhiji,” says Keshav Gupta. It was a memorable second and probably the spotlight of the journey.

(The author was in Durban on invitation from South African Tourism.)

sudhi.ks@thehindu.co.in

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