Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

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Khadi Pratisthan, Sodepur, Kolkata

Connection with Gandhiji 
Gandhiji inaugurated Kalashala (an art section) at Khadi Pratisthan in 1927 and stayed at the Pratisthan several times between 1927 and 1947. Gandhiji wrote in a letter to Hemprabha Dasgupta, ‘I shall try to treat Sodepur on the same footing as Sabarmati.’

Well-known chemist, innovator, and disciple of Dr. P.C. Roy, Satish Chandra Dasgupta established Khadi Pratisthan in 1921 by purchasing 17 bighas of land near Sodepur railway station on the outskirts of Calcutta. His wife Hemprabha was a devout Gandhian. Satish babu was influenced by his guru Dr. P.C.Roy’s dedication to Khadi. He started activities related to spinning, weaving, and materials of Khadi as well as other cottage industrial commodities at the Pratisthan.'

First Visit
Gandhiji went to Khadi Pratisthan, Sodepur for the first time on January 2, 1927, to inaugurate Kalashala. Dignitaries like Pandit Motilal Nehru, Congress President S. Srinivas Iyengar, Dr. P.C. Roy attended the function. In his speech, Gandhiji praised Satishbabu and said, ‘You will see that he has staked his all on khadi. Many of you will think that he has gone mad, but I tell you it is faith that moves mountains, and Satishbabu has faith in khadi, and the determination that he must stop, as much as he can, the lakhs of rupees worth of foreign cloth that is dumped every day in the Calcutta market.’

Mahadev Desai’s diary has a detailed account of Gandhiji’s first visit to Sodepur and the activities of Satishbabu. He noted, ‘Kalashala is not the merely industrial institution. It is an ashram. Satish babu has settled all the workers of the Pratisthan in this Kalashala and he lives with his family in their midst. All the inmates get up at 4 a.m., join in congregational prayer, and do their respective duties right in the Ashram style…’ 

Place in History
• Gandhiji visited and stayed at Sodepur Ashram several times in 1939, 1945, 1946, and 1947.
• During his Calcutta visit from April 27 to 30, Gandhiji stayed at Sodepur Ashram. Gandhiji had intense discussions with Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru during this stay. The subject matter was Subhas Chandra Bose’s election as the Congress President and deadlock owing difference of opinions.
• He visited Calcutta from December 1, 1945, to January 8, 1946, and stayed at Sodepur Ashram. He had a series of discussions with the Governor of Bengal. He also visited Santiniketan and some nearby villages. He wrote many letters from Sodepur Ashram during this period.
• His next stay at Sodepur Ashram was from October 29 to November 6, 1946. He met the Governor of Bengal and Prime Minister of Bengal (as the Chief Minister was known at that time) Suhrawardy. He held daily prayer meetings in the evening at the Ashram.
• Reflecting on communal violence in Noakhali and Bihar, Gandhiji issued a strong statement from Sodepur Ashram on November 6, 1946, for the people of Bihar. He declared, ‘Predominantly for reasons of health, I had put myself on the lowest diet possible soon after I reached Calcutta. The diet now continues as a penance after the knowledge of the Bihar tragedy. The low diet will become a fast unto death if the erring Biharis have not turned over a new leaf.’
• In March 1947, Gandhiji briefly visited Calcutta. He reached on March 3, stayed at Sodepur Ashram, and left for Patna on March 5. He went to Calcutta again on August 9, 1947. This was his last stay at Sodepur ashram. He left the Ashram on August 13 and stayed at Haidari Mansion, right in the eye of the storm of communal violence.

Sodepur and Sabarmati
In a letter to Hemprabha Dasgupta on December 13, 1928, Gandhiji wrote, ‘I shall try to treat Sodepur on the same footing as Sabarmati…The existence of Sodepur is for the sake of Khadi, while that of Sabarmati is for experiments in truth, etc. This does not mean that Sabarmati is superior. I merely defined the field of work at the two places…’ 

Digital Experience
Virtual Tour | Architectural Documents

Site Address/Contact
Khadi Pratisthan
No.3 Government Colony,
Sodepur, Kolkata,
West Bengal – 700 110