Taj city’s Gandhi Smarak cries for attention

Though the longest street in Agra is named Mahatma Gandhi Road, people in the city have generally forgotten ‘the father of the nation’. A few statues of the Gandhi have not been cleaned for years.

“Only his symbols, the eye glasses used for the ‘Swachchta Abhiyan’ and the discount sale at the Khadi outlets remind us of Gandhi, ritualistically on October 2 and January 30,” lamented an elderly Gandhian.

“No one cares for the Gandhi memorial, on the Yamuna bank, next to the Mughal monument Etmauddaula. It lies in a shambles,” reminded businessmen Rajiv Gupta.

The memorial is near Etmauddaula, a monument that attracts only some tourists each day despite being among the first buildings from the Mughal era to be constructed in white marble, and not red sandstone.

Its fate is shared by the nearby memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.

Before Independence, the Gandhi Smarak on the banks of the Yamuna was a hub of Gandhian activities. Sarvodaya workers would gather near it. These days, it has become a den for vagabonds.

“The Agra Municipal Corporation is supposed to be the custodian of this property. But all they do is use it as a storage facility,” a neighbourhood shopkeeper said.

The memorial building is actually the house where Mahatma Gandhi stayed for 11 days in 1929 while being treated by an Ayurvedic doctor here.

The building was renovated and opened to the public in 2008 by then Agra mayor Anjula Singh Mahaur, who had promised that it would become a place worth visiting for tourists.

But it soon fell into disrepair. Some even use the vast open space near the building for defecation.

In August 2008, the Gandhi memorial made headlines after statues from a 300-year-old temple within the premises disappeared.

The local corporation officials however claim that the memorial had been cleaned up and the premises spruced up. But no one showed any interest in visiting this place.

“The younger generation does not find Mahatma Gandhi attractive, signs of changing times. Relevance of Gandhian ideology was being questioned. They seem to admire Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose,” a retired professor of economics said.

20221001-164205

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