Capital of the “land of oranges”, Nagpur is the focus of government attempts to develop industry in the remote northeastern corner of Maharashtra – most foreign visitors come for business rather than pleasure. In the city itself, the most prominent landmark is the Sitabuldi Fort, standing on a saddle between two low hills above the railway station, though it’s closed to the public. North and west of the fort, the pleasantly green Civil Lines district holds some grand Raj-era buildings, dating from the time when this was the capital of the vast Central Provinces region.
Sevagram, Gandhi’s model “Village of Service”, is deep in the serene Maharashtran countryside. The Mahatma moved here from his former ashram in Gujarat during the 1936 monsoon, on the invitation of his friend Seth Jamnalal Bajaj. At the centre of the Subcontinent, within easy reach of the Central Railway, it made an ideal headquarters for the national, nonviolent Satyagraha movement, combining seclusion with the easy access to other parts of the country Gandhi needed in order to carry out his political activities.
These days, the small settlement is a cross between a museum and living centre for the promulgation of Gandhian philosophies. Interested visitors are welcome to spend a couple of days here, helping in the fields, attending discussions and prayer meetings, and learning the dying art of hand-spinning. The older ashramites, or saadhaks, are veritable founts of wisdom when it comes to the words of their guru, Gandhiji.
Top image: Deekshabhoomi monument - an important Buddhist pilgrim place in India © Dipak Shelare/Shutterstock