''GD House'', Podanur where Gandhiji stayed in 1934 is restored and converted into a memorial in his honor

Gandhi memorial, Podanur, near Coimbatore imesofindia.indiatimes.com

During the hectic freedom movement  against the oppressive  British Raj Gandhiji  visited Madras presidency - Tamil region several times, first being in 1896. According to 'The Hindu' archives, he visited this region 12 times. He covered  places such as  Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Vellore, Salem, etc., down south.  His most favorite place was Madurai which he visited five times and where he took a new avatar - casting off his Gujarati attire and changing over to loin clothes (22 September, 1921) like  farmers of Tamil  Nadu.  He entered the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple in 1946 only after Harijans (dalits) had been allowed to enter the temple on July 8, 1939. This was made possible by freedom fighter and famous advocate R. Vaidhyanatha Aiyar along with  Sri Muthuramalinga Thevar, a hardcore patriot and a close associate of Netaji Bose.   

Gandhiji visited  Coimbatore thrice  and  his final visit was from February 6 to 7, 1934. He stayed  in a small house with tiled roof in Podanur later called GD House. Owned by famous industrialist and inventor G. Duraiswamy Naidu (GD Naidu), the descendants of the illustrious family  never sold the house  nor did they  make any  demolition and  alteration. The site is there  to recall the visit of a man who gave  up his life to free India from the wily Bobs.  It is said, it is the only known place in this part of Kongu Nadu that bears testimony to Gandhji's stay. 

This small house now restored  and converted into a museum with  a  library and photo gallery was opened to public as part of his 153 birth anniversary on 2 October, 2022  by Smt Krishnammal Jagannathan, a popular  Gandhian and social activist. She also worked with doyens like  Shri Vinoba Bhave (of Bhoothan movement) and Shri Jayaprakash Narayan.  

Mahatma Gandhi memorial, Podanur, near Coimbatore
Inaugural Oct.2022. thehindu.com

Gandhiji who was on a long a fund-raising trip to Madras came to Coimbatore  as part of the last leg of his journey  to receive donations for a social cause - Harijan Welfare organization. Here, surprisingly, collections  accounted for one fourth of the entire amount collected in the presidency. Quite satisficed, that night Gandhiji retired to bed after 2 am upon completing his accounts work at the guest house and was  up at 4am as usual.

Podanur (Pothanur), Coimbatore, TN. mapsofindia.com

Decades later the historical  tiny room, in the simple house in Podanur, a suburb of Coimbatore city  where Gandhi did his accounting, with  lantern  in a corner and  a low table, stands as a silent witness  to the visit of a man  who not only shook the foundations of the Empire and but also had the audacity to visit the Royal Gallery  in London in loin clothes  to attend the Round table Conference 1931 - as a ''half- naked fakir'' as  India-baiter Churchill put it. Apart,  he   took two goats with him from India to provide his daily ration of milk. 

Gandhiji with 2 goats, london May 1931 alamy.com 

Above image: Mahatma Gandhi and his disciple English woman Mirabehn (right ) with the goats he used for milk in London in 1931. The Indian goats travelled to London along with him...... 

Gandhiji in Meenakshi temple,1946
Madurai thehindu.com

Mahatma Gandhi memorial, Podanur, near Coimbatore

Above image: The small house has a pial, elevated platform (thinnai in Tamil)  in the front along the verandah. Opened to public on 2nd October 2022.  According to Sri. G.D. Raj Kumar of the GD family  the G.D. house in Podanur  remained unused for decades and  only in 1998 he knew Gandhi had stayed in the house during his visit to Coimbatore in February, 1934. The idea of establishing a memorial for the Mahatma came through B. K. Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, chairman, Kumaraguru Institutions........ 

Gandhi memorial, Podanur, near Coimbatore thehindu.com

Gandhi memorial, Podanur, near Coimbatore thehindu.com

Coimbatore, Gandhi memorial, Podanur . covaipost.com

Above images; The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial House. Podanur, TN will feature a large photo gallery, library, replicas of artifacts such as eye glasses, Ingersoll  pocket watch, rosary, chakra, etc.,  used by  Gandhiji and a semi - open conference space. Besides, there are photos with descriptions related to GD house and its importance and events taken place during  Gandhiji's visit,  etc. Apart, this place  was once occupied by the Ramakrishna Vidhyalaya, hence  photos such as the laying of the foundation stone for Sri Ramakrishna Vidyalaya, etc.,  are on display. As for photo gallery, it is a comprehensive one, covering  various phases of Gandhji' journey from his early life to his death in Birla house in 1948, and some letters written to important persons of that time.

The credit goes to the BK Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, and GD Gopal and his family for speeding up the project. Both the museum and the memorial will be instructive and educative to the inquisitive younger generation of this industrial city that forms the backbone of the economy of Tamil Nadu.