Gandhiji in Udupi
85 years to Mahatma Gandhi's only visit to Udupi
[Mahatma Gandhi's Visit to Udupi on 25th February, 1934]
Gandhiji had visited Udupi in the afternoon of 25th February, 1934. He came from Mulki as a part of his tour that was popularly known as Harijan Tour. He had embarked on that tour to create awareness about the eradication of untouchability and to raise funds for the uplift of the downtrodden. Later, he also began raising funds for Bihar Earthquake Relief as Bihar was hit by a massive earthquake on 15th January 1934.
As per the schedule he reached Kapu at 2.30 pm. by car. A girl named Sridevi went up to the car to present a mango to Gandhi. In turn Gandhi gave her a garland. A donation of Rs. 100 was presented in Kapu. On his way to Udupi, he was presented with donations at Katapadi (Rs. 615) and Udyavar (Rs. 55). People had gathered in large numbers on either sides of the road to have a glimpse of the 65 year old Mahatma. The whole region had a festive look. The villages, towns and the roads through which Gandhiji’s car was to pass were tastefully decorated. People had lined up to have a glimpse of the Mahatma they adored.
Gandhi reached Udupi by 3.30 p.m. and was escorted by Haji Abdulla Saheb who was the leading personality of Udupi. One could realise the adoration of the masses towards Gandhi from peoples’ eyes and gestures. And wherever he went, he got a rousing reception. People had brought him purses and gifts as could they afford. He inaugurated a Khadi Bhandar of Sri Kadubettu Srinivasa Pai. He next went to Ajjarkad grounds to address the public meeting that was witnessed by a huge crowd of around 6000 people. The people of Udupi presented him a purse of Rs. 1240. In his speech he said that Udupi was on his mind for long and its fame had reached him due to the famous Krishna temple, where God himself turned away from the Brahmins, because they would not allow the downtrodden devotee to approach Him. Having known that the temple was not open for all, he called upon the citizens to create such a public opinion through the gentlest means. He had strongly remarked that the opening of temples was an act of self-purification and reparation. According to him no temple was worth opening, unless the temple goers desired it by a vast majority. He had urged the people to be true to their promise of removing the sin of untouchability from their midst and become an example to the other places in Karnataka.
During those those days there were no microphones or amplifiers. So as Gandhi spoke a few sentences they were instantly translated and repeated in local language on the stage. That translated speech was repeated aloud by trained volunteers who were present at every 5th or 10th row. Thus, the speech of Gandhiji was communicated very beautifully by the volunteers who repeated the sentence passing the same to the next volunteer and the crowd in between!
In this meeting, Nirupama, a 10 year old girl offered her gold bangles as gift. Gandhiji noticed that she was also wearing a gold necklace and gold ear rings. So he mischievously asked the girl to give her necklace and ear-rings as well! She did so without any hesitation. But, Gandhi returned the necklace and the ear-rings to make her promise that she would never wear them again. At the end of the meeting the presents were auctioned and fetched Rs. 312.
The volunteers of Udupi wanted one word from Gandhi, and for which he said: “Stand up for the truth at any cost.” In the actual terms it became a potent message and motto for those who deserved it.
Gandhi left Udupi by 5.30 pm. He was welcomed with donations at Kallianpur and Brahmavar (Rs. 239). He reached Kundapur at 8.00 pm and addressed a public gathering. Rs. 1143 was collected as donations. He stayed in Kundapur, in a house named ‘Shanthiniketana’ on 25th night & 26th, Monday, his day of weekly silence and on 27th morning he sailed to Karwar on a steamer Dayavati. This was Gandhiji's first and the last visit to the present day Udupi district.
[Source: Gandhian Study Centre, MGM College, Udupi.]