Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - better known as Bapu (means father), Gandhiji or the Mahatma as called by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore is the Father of the Nation for Indians. This great man of India was born on October 2nd, 1869 in the Kirti Mandir; a three story blue building located in the city of Porbandar, Gujarat. His grandfather, father and uncle were prime ministers to the princely state of the Rajput Jethwa rulers. Presently the house has become a memorial temple restored in memory of Bapu and his wife Kasturba Gandhi.
Today, tourists to Gujarat explore the birth place of Gandhi to see the place where he has spent most of his life with his parents and later on with wife and children. Visitors can see some of the personal belongings, photographs, charkha and books of the Mahatma in the Kirti Mandir. Followers and researchers of Gandhian philosophy can find treasure from the books enshrined by the authority maintaining the birthplace of the Mahatma.
Initially the Kirti Mandir was adjacent to the ancestral house of the Gandhis. Later on when Mohandas was released by the British from the Aga Khan Palace his followers took the initiative to create the Kirti Mandir. H.H. Maharaja Rana Shri Natavarsinhji, Maharaja of Porbandar and Rajratna Shri Nanjibhai Kalidas Mehta and his wife Smt. Santokbehn Mehta played the major role in creating the Mandir. They brought the nearby house of where Gandhiji was born and expanded the premises to create the wonderful and historic shrine of Mahatma Gandhi.
Originally the building of three stories was built by Shri Harjivan Raidas Gandhi, the great grandfather of Gandhiji, nearly two hundred years ago. He brought it from a local resident and later on added the floors. This is the ancestral house of the mahatma where his grandfather Uttamchand Gandhi, father Karamchand Gandhi, Uncle Tulsidas Gandhi lived.
The foundation stone of the memorial was laid in 1947 during the lifetime of Gandhi. The new complex of the Kirti Mandir was solely made by industrialist Nanjibahi Kalidas Mehta. The memorial was completed in the year 1950 but the Gandhi was no more. The then Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel inaugurated the Kirti Mandir and it was opened for public from May 27th 1950. Later on the haveli or the memorial of Gandhiji was handed over to the Central Government of India.
The 79 feet height of the memorial resembles and symbolizes the lifespan of the Mahatma. He lived for 79 years. As the Kirti Mandir symbolizes Gandhi’s respect for all religions – makers used architectural elements of six religions – Hindu, Islam, Christian, Buddhism, Jainism and Parsi temples. Shri Prushottambhai Mistry, a resident of Porband did the architecture of the whole temple.
Visitors at the Kirti Mandir witness the life size portraits of Kasturba and Mahatma Gandhi displayed throughout the memorial. Gandhi never wanted himself to be portrayed as a God so no garland or floral decorations are made to deck up the portraits. The philosophy of his life that is ‘believing in the truth’ and ‘Non-Violence’ along with the other preaching are kept at the foot of the portraits.
The museum also displays memorials of Mahadev Desai and Maganlal Gandhi. Besides, there are three rooms where the articles of Khadi are displayed. Those are mainly handicrafts. There is a center where books on Gandhian philosophy are sold. The Kasturba-Mahila Library is also visited by the tourists here in the memorial.
By Air: The nearest airport is the Porbandar airport which is around 10 km from the city center.
By Rail: Porbandar has a railway station. Major trains from Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Mumbai arrive here.
By road: Bus services are well connected from Ahmedabad, Dwarka, Rajkot, Jamnagar Veraval, and Junagadh. Tourists can hire private cars and cabs to reach the place too.