Published on March 14, 2021

Dandi March Special

Ahmedabad: Exactly 91 years ago, on this day Mahatma Gandhi left with 78 Satyagrahis – who had gathered for the cause from all parts of the country. Their age ranged from 16 to 61 years. Together, with Gandhiji in lead, they embarked on a journey that shook the conscience of the world. The march, that lasted 25 days from March 12 to April 5, traversed diverse geographies and mobilized lakhs of people on the road for the movement against the British.

As PM Narendra Modi is set to flag off a march to Dandi on Friday, how is the trail holding up after nine decades? The landmarks are still known by the march, even as some are in crumbling condition and some have had a facelift. Except for the larger marches organized by the celebrities or commemorative marches, the attendance is thinner. Before Dandi Path – a project that established 14 centres along the route for night stay – it was largely unorganized.

“We see a rise in inquiries and activities along the route. In the past couple of years, it’s being seen as an experiential trail,” said Yogesh Sutaria, coordinator for the Dandi Path project. “There’s a rise in the yatris from foreign nations, too. We recently saw a group of four from the UK that traversed the path on bicycles.”

As India will celebrate 75 years of Independence in 2022,would the iconic trail get another lease of life? Hemant Mahant, caretaker of the memorial and ashram at Kareli, where Mahatma stayed for a night on March 20 and met Jawaharlal Nehru, said that the village still gets its identity from that one incident and draws hundreds of visitors. “The initiatives to revive the trail will surely bring more traffic and more opportunities for the locals,” he said.

Images: Yogesh Chawda

Graphic: Ayaz Daruwala

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