Kirti Mandir, Porbandar
The ancestral house of Gandhi family, where Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 is just adjacent to the Kirti Mandir. At the time when Gandhi was released for the last time in year 1944 from the Aga Khan Palace by the British Government, the residential public of Porbandar had decided to construct an ideal memorial on the birth palace of Mahatmaji. At that time, organization of the project was accomplished by the intensive efforts of the easrtwhile Maharaja of Porbandar, H.H. Maharana Shri Natavarsinhji, and Raj Ratna Shri Nanjibhai Kalidas Mehta and his wife, Smt. Santokbehn Mehta. Before the foundation of the Kirti Mandir was started, the adjacent ancestral house was purchased from those members of the Gandhian family who were living in it. Mahatmaji himself, on his own part had given his consent to Nanjibhai in writing, with legal documents for the sale of the whole building. He had signed with his own hand the registration papers, which are displayed at a museum room in Kirti Mandir Complex. The ancestral house, as such, now forms a part of Kriti Mandir complex.
The original three storied house is built like a Haveli, purchased by the great grand father of Mahatmaji, Shri Harjivan Raidas Gandhi, some two hundred years before, in the seventeenth century, from a local woman and the upper stories were added over the years. It was this house where Gandhi's father Karamchand, uncle, Tulsidas and grandfather Uttamchand lived, who had all been Prime Ministers (Dewan) to the Jethwa Rajput rulers of the princely state of Porbandar.
The foundation stone of modern structure and attractive Kirti Mandir was laid in 1947 during the lifetime of Gandhi by Shree Darbar Gopaldas Desai. The whole credit of constructing this national memorial of Mahatma Gandhi goes to the famous industrialist, Nanjibahi Kalidas Mehta, who not only initiated the idea to build a memorial but also donated the whole money purchase the ancestral house and also to build new complex called Kirti Mandir.
The memorial was completed in 1950, by which time Gandhi was no more. The memorial was named Kirti Mandir and then Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel inaugurated and declared open this place for public on 27 May 1950. Afterwards this beautiful memorial was handed over to the Central Government of India.
The height of the temple is of 79 feet symbolizes the 79 years of lifespan of Gandhi. The monument Kirti Mandir is symbol of religious integration of six religions, the architectural elements of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi temple, Church and Mosque are symbolized at Kirti Mandir integrate, which symbolize Gandhi’s respect towards all religion.
The whole the architecture of the Kirti Mandir was done by Shri Prushottambhai Mistry, a resident of Porbandar. He completed construction within two years of time limit by working for days and night himself.
There are life size oil paintings of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba kept side by side in the centre of Kirti Mandir. Gandhi wanted that he should not be made a God and so, keeping his wishes, floral garlands are not used. The auspicious words, ‘The Truth’ and ‘Non-violence’, symbolizing his life and preachings are placed near their feet.
On the right side there are two rooms as the memorials of Maganlal Gandhi and Mahadev Desai, and the room on the left hand side is meant for the exhibition of the museum. These three rooms contain articles of khadibhandar, things of handicraft, the centre is for the sale of books, the office-room and the reception hall. Kasturba-Mahila Library situated in the Kirti mandir.
The Kirti Mandir is the main tourist attraction of the town. As well, many foreign dignitaries and Indian politicians visit Kirti Mandir, which houses the ancestral house and birthplace of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The place where Gandhi was born is marked with a Swastika for identification.
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