As Londoners, we all walk; to the tube station, to the shops and back, to the burger stand as we stumble home after work drinks gone awry. But how many of us use walking as a form of spiritual enlightenment, or non-violent protest? We’d wager not many, aside from Mahatma Gandhi.
And so it is that at long last a guided walk of London has been created in homage to one of India’s greatest historical figures. The tour focuses on the places where Gandhi once studied as a barrister, lived, ate (vegetarian restaurants, mainly) and where, undoubtedly, the seeds of his life’s journey were sowed.
The creator of the walk, Ajay Goyal, said:
“There is an Indian soul to London. Rabindranath Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi, all lived and learnt here...When one gets homesick you look for something that is yours, something Indian. Not food, nor film, nor Hindi film music. London’s Indian connections and history is what I’ve found and want to share with others."
Goyal, a wealthy investor who left his native India 20 years ago, does not expect to make a profit on the walk for the first few years, even after his initial £5000 outlay for conceiving, researching and putting the tour together. His motivation for this project comes from a desire to share with Londoners the power of Gandhi’s satyagraha movement (walking as a form of passive resistance) instrumental in the struggle for India’s independence from the British Empire.
Makes walking to the shops seem a bit less exciting, doesn’t it?
The Gandhi Walk is part of India Now, a London-wide festival that lasts from 15th July to 30th September. Details can be found here and here. More information about this festival will be on the site soon.
Photo of Gandhi statue in Tavistock Square taken from Elfeda's flickrstream through the Creative Commons Deed.