Gandhi Heritage Sites - Writeups

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Beliaghata, Kolkata

Connection with Gandhiji 
Gandhiji stayed at Haidari Mansion, Beliaghata from August 13, 1947, to September 7, 1947. The Mansion was right in the eye of a storm, as the city was engulfed in communal violence. The impact of his stay at Beliaghata was dubbed as ‘the miracle of Calcutta’ as the riots stopped.

Owing to pressure from many Muslim friends from Calcutta, Gandhiji postponed his program to leave Sodepur for Noakhali and decided to extend his stay. He shifted from Sodepur to riot-torn Calcutta city. Mr. Suharwardy, premier of Bengal. Suharwardy accepted Gandhiji’s offer to live together and work as long as every Hindu and Muslim in Calcutta does not safely return to the place where he was before.- My Days with Gandhi: p. 224

The stay at Calcutta was arranged at a vacant Muslim residence, Hyderi Mansion at 150, Beliaghata Main Road. It was a predominantly Hindu area. The nearby slum of Miabagan, a predominantly Muslim slum, had gained notoriety for harboring a large number of miscreants during communal riots. The slum was attacked by armed Hindus of Beliaghata and cleared of all inhabitants good and bad. - My Days with Gandhi: p. 225

In Gandhiji’s close associate Manu Gandhi’s words, Gandhjij launched ‘a frightening venture.’

Condition of Haidari House
‘It was a shabby house without any sort of facility. It was open on all sides—thus being easy to access to outsiders. The doors and windows were broken. There was only one latrine that was used by hundreds of people, including a number of volunteers, policemen, and visitors. Every inch of the place was covered with dust. In addition, the rain had made the passage muddy. Bleaching powder having been profusely sprinkled, the acrid smell caused great discomfort. There was only one usable room where everybody and everything had to be accommodated, including Bapu himself, his luggage, and guest.’ Wrote Manubehn Gandhij who was accompanying Gandhiji.- Miracle of Calcutta: p. 25

Place in History
• On the very first day, Gandhiji was confronted by excited Hindu youth on the same day. Gandhiji had a dialogue with their representatives for several hours.
• Gandhiji observed fast on August 15, 1947, when others were celebrating Independence Day. The constant stream of people came to pay their respect to Gandhiji. When he woke up at 2 a.m. on August 15, a number of Muslims were waiting outside for him as they decided to break their Roza (fast during Ramzan month) only after Gandhiji’s darshan.
• After being sworn in as the Governor, C. Rajgopalachari came to meet Gandhiji at Haidari Mansion on August 16.
• His usual day at Haidari mention started at 3:30 a.m. or even earlier with prayers and it ended around 10:30 p.m. Daily prayer meetings were held at different places during his stay and were attended by large numbers of Hindus and Muslims. Along with Gandhiji, Suharawardy also addressed prayer meetings and emphasized on Hindu-Muslim unity.
• Gandhiji wrote several articles for ‘Harijan’ during his stay at Haidari mention soon after his morning prayers.
• An incident on August 31 disturbed the peaceful environment created by the efforts of Gandhiji with Suharwardy on his side. Hindu boys brought an injured man in a procession at 10 p.m. and started pelting stones at lamps and window panes of Haidari Mansion. They were asking for two Muslims who were inside the Mansion and were the hosts. Gandhiji woke up and shouted, ‘What is all this? Kill me, kill me, I say why don’t you kill me?’ The incident pained Gandhiji extremely. He postponed the program of leaving for Noakhali the next day.- Miracle of Calcutta: p. 66
• The riots started again in Calcutta on September 1 and Gandhiji began an indefinite fast on the same day at the age of 78. On September 4, the perpetrators of rioting started coming to Haidari Mansion with their confessions and request to terminate the fast. They were surrendering their weapons to Gandhiji. Only after a written assurance from different leaders, Gandhiji ended his fast.
• This was Gandhiji’s last visit to Calcutta.

Architectural Documents

Site Address/Contact
Gandhi Bhawan (Hyderi Manzil)
Beleghata Main Rd, Kulia,
Beleghata, Kolkata,
West Bengal – 700 110

Additional Details
Two of Gandhiji’s close associates have written detailed accounts of his stay at Calcutta including the period at Haidari Mansion, Beliaghata.
The Miracle of Calcutta (1959) by Manubehn Gandhi
My Days with Gandhi (1974) by Nirmal Kumar Bose