October is the right time to recollect a trip to Porbandar, a small port town in the Kathiawar region. Kathiawar is a peninsula in the Saurashtra Region of Gujarat. The only reason why we had a stop there was that it was the birthplace of Gandhiji. Later I realised that Sudama – famous friend of Krishna was also from this place.
We reached Porbandar by road from Dwaraka. It was a nice 3 hour drive in the morning. This little town stands frozen in history. One gets the feeling that the time is somewhere in the early 20th century when you look around. A quick drive through the narrow, dusty lanes brought us in front of an entrance – the gateway to the Gandhi museum and the house where Gandhiji was born.
It is pleasant when you step in to the open space just after the door. On the left is the 220 yr old building in yellow – that is where the Gandhi family stayed. Straight ahead is Kirti Mandir – a memorial which also houses Kasturba Library and a bala mandir. It was in one of the inside rooms of the old building that Gandhiji was born. The place of birth is marked with a swasthika on the ground. Photography is not allowed inside; so you may not find pictures of this usually. I liked that – it would have been annoying to have people posing by the side of the swasthika to take photographs. The house looks pretty large with 20+ rooms. Gandhiji’s study room is on the upper floor. He stayed in this building till the age of six. The building is fairly well maintained.
The memorial has a fantastic collection of rare pictures, The most touching one- to me -was a snap showing a bereaving Gandhiji sitting near one corner of the room where Ba’s body was kept following her death. The mood has been brilliantly captured by the photographer. There are several others worth mentioning.
A walk on the streets outside the building would give us a sense of walking in an old European town at times – especially the arches across the road with rooms on top. There are a few other temples around, but nearly always it is the Gandhiji memorial that brings people to this town.
If you travelling through Saurashtra, Porabandar is worth a short stop – you are likely to pass it as it falls on the Dwaraka – Veraval route.
Strange fact : Not only Gandhiji, even Jinnah had a Kathiawar lineage. His father was from Kathiawar, and later moved to Sindh where Jinnah was born. It seems strange that two men who are known as ‘Father of the Nation’ in their respective countries, both come from a little known place – Kathiawar !