Tracing Mahatma's Footprints
There are several places in Pune which have been sanctified by the footprints of Mahatma Gandhi, and prominent among them is the Agakhan Palace where Gandhiji was incarcerated for 21 months during the Quit India movement.
It was here at the Agakhan Palace that Gandhiji lost two beloved persons - his wife Kasturba and secretary Mahadevbhai Desai. Both their shrines are situated in the premises of the Agakhan Palace.
Gandhiji was arrested in Bombay and brought to the Agakhan Palace in Pune on August 9, 1942 and was finally released on May 6, 1944.
But in the meanwhile, Kasturba and Mahavedbhai who were in internment along with Gandhiji, passed away. According to the information displayed at the Agakhan Palace, Mahadevbhai and "Nightingale of India" Sarojini Naidu, who was also arrested, were complaining to the authorities that they were not receiving newspapers when Mahadevbhai suffered a heart attack and died. This happened just a few days after the arrest, on August 15, 1942.
The authorities wanted to take away Mahadevbhai's body but Gandhiji did not allow. "No father can hand over the body of his son to strangers," he said. "Mahadev was more than a son to me. I would like to perform the last rites myself," Gandhiji said. The authorities relented to his wishes. About 18 months later Gandhiji suffered another personal loss when Kasturba expired here on February 22, 1944.
The Agakhan Palace has some personal effects of Gandhiji like utensils, clothes and slippers, which have been displayed.
The Agakhan Palace, also known as the Gandhi National Memorial, was built in 1892 by the third Agakhan, according to the information displayed in the premises. The Palace was donated to the Government of India in 1969. The Agakhan Palace has been declared as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.