Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai city, Tamil Nadu - first ever in India in Gandhiji's memory

Gandhi Memorial MuseumMadurai city
Gandhi Memorial MuseumMadurai citytimesofindia.i
Gandhi Memorial Museum established in 1959 in Madurai city, Tamil Nadu to perpetuate his memory and ideal is the first ever in Gandhiji's memory in India. It is home to many valuable items  associated  with him in his arduous journey as a staunch freedom fighter and torch-bearer of non-violence and Satyagraha (civil disobedience) against the oppressive and unjust British rule. Being one of the five Gandhi Sanghralayas (Gandhi Museums) in the country, on display here is  a part of the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated out side the Birla House, Delhi on the evening of 30 January1948 by Nathuram Godse (19 May 1910 - 15 November 1949). It is quite befitting that this museum is in this famous temple city which he liked very much and where he had taken a new avatar on 22 September 1921   by wearing Khadi loin cloths, shedding his traditional Gujarati attire worn before. To him it was a spiritual rejuvenation and moral obligation to be identified with  poor Indian natives. Wearing loin cloths, he attended the second 'Round Table Conference' in London (1931) and also met the Queen and the people to tell the world that ''India's poor are naked because of oppressive rule by the British.''
plague at the Gandhi museum, Madurai
After Gandhiji's assassination national leaders and people of India in 1948 wanted to have memorials built for him in some cities. Responding to the appeal contributions  came in from the rich and the  poor to establish a trust for this cause. Thus '' the Mahatma Gandhi National Memorial Trust''  was established  to spread Gandhian philosophy and self-reliance. The Gandhi Museum at Madurai was inaugurated by the first PM of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on 15 April 1959. The museum that is housed in the famous palace of  Rani Mangammal  comes under the Peace Museums Worldwide selected by United Nations Organisation (UNO). The museum is on a vast plot of  13.5 acres of land surrounded  Madurai district collectorate, Madurai Medical College, World Tamil Sangam Building and Tamukkam grounds. The life size bronze  statue of Gandhiji placed in front of the  museum was made  by renowned sculptor  V.P Karmakar.
Bronze statue of Gandhiji, Madurai Gandhi museum

 Why was Madurai city chosen for Gandhi museum though cities like Bangaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad were in the run for the proposed museum?  Surely, the credit goes to freedom fighters N.M.R. Subramanium (14 August 1905 -25 January 1983; nick-named "Madurai Gandhi'') and the well-known lawyer and social reformer  Madurai A. Vaidhyanatha Aiyar (1890–1955; President of the Tamil Nadu Harijan Seva Sangh) whose sustained efforts helped establish the museum in Madurai. Further, it was under the leadership of the latter (with support from the former) first ever temple entry of  Harijans (dalits) in Tamil nadu, was  taken place  on 8 July 1939 in the Meenakshi temple on instructions from Gandhiji and former CM. Rajaji (C. Rajagopala Chari). Sri U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, a  respected freedom fighter and a close associate of Nethaji  Bose gave ample support to the temple entry movement.
inside. Gandhi Memorial MuseumMadurai
The museum has several sections - personal items, visual biography, relics, replicas and artifacts. The museum, it is said, has 14 items used by father of the nation including an original letter written personally by Gandhiji to Narayanan Sathsangi of Devakottai. A congratulatory message sent by Gandhiji to freedom fighter and poet Subramania Bharati (1925) is also preserved in this museum. Another interesting letter is the one written by the Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler addressing him as "Dear Friend". Also included is a special exhibition on "India Fights for Freedom". It has  265 illustrations covering  numerous episodes in  the history of the Freedom Movement.
Of interest to the visitors is a section called "Visual Biography of Bapuji". This memorial of Gandhi set  in a quiet place of the museum  has on display  photos, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, quotations and selected copies of his letters and renderings. Quite interesting are the  124 rare photographs pertaining to his life from his childhood days until his death and cremation
There is section that contains relics associated with Gandhiji and it includes 14 original artifacts used by Gandhi. Among them is a blood stained cloth used by Gandhi on the day of his assassination. It is mentioned  this one is only a replica and the original is preserved in a vacuum glass kept safely, considering its historic importance.  A huge  white shawl is kept in a glass covered box and it was worn by Gandhiji when he attended the Round Table Conference in London in 1931. Other personal items included a pair of  spectacles, a pair of wooden sandals, towels, etc.
Only recently a digital study kit was introduced about Gandhiji.  The pen drive is available for study and it contains  copies of books about him, Video clippings and  audio footage  of him. These include his passionate bhajans and a Documentary titled ''Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century Prophet'' containing rare footage of him in India and South Africa. It was made by one A.K. Chettiar, a traveler, journalist and writer from Chennai in 1930. It was a long documentary (more than two hours) released in 1940; later it was reduced to 80 mts.The third version of this one is saved  and in 2014 digitized.  The new addition to the museum made in 2015 is the display of photos on his trip to Tamil Nadu and Madurai. Do you know how many times did Gandhiji visit Tamil Nadu? An interesting fact emerges:  Gandhiji visited Tamil Nadu as many as 20 times out of which five times to Madurai. 

Yet another fascinating fact is his first visit to Meenakshi Amman kovil took place in 1946 only after the temple management allowed the entry of Harijans  for darshan right before the sanctum.,_Madurai