Salt. Fire. A nation scorching with fury. That was the March to Dandi.
Fellow countrypeople blazing their way into the very heart of injustice – shaking not just the ground but the hold of the invaders. Blaze turning into embers and lit again and again. A march thumping with the sound of feet and kirtan. And determination. Almost meditative. But defying the conquests’ ravages and defining the next moments in history.
Yes, that was the March to Dandi.
92 years ago; a man and his fellow countrypeople marched from Sabarmati to Dandi for some 385 km. The journey took 24 days to complete and the sounds of this non-violent protest reverberated far and wide. The March to Dandi (then Navsari) was the famous Salt March. It was the march against the salt tax in India imposed by the British. An unfair affair just as the entire conquest was and remained until 1947 and even then, left debilitating wounds across the nation that are still raw. But the nation is stronger. The recovery has been robust. But history is not to be forgotten. The reverence remains.
The name Dandi is bound to instantly conjure up images of the ‘famous’ march that took place here and cemented its place in history. As India enters its 76th year of independence; a visit to Dandi can be a walkabout of history and a closer look at one of the most significant events of the entire Freedom Movement in India. If you are looking at places to see in India with historical significance then Dandi has to be on the list.
Dandi – The History
The year was 1930. The date was 12th March. The purpose was a non-violent but civil disobedience protest. The reason was the tax on salt.
The March to Dandi was, in essence, the start of the Civil Disobedience Movement in India during the British Rule. And it lasted till 1934. Even as India enters the 76th year of independence, the March to Dandi is not forgotten. The salt and the fires along the Dandi Path; the bonfires raising flames of protests, and the largely silent march transforming itself into the Mass Satyagraha Movement. That was the March to Dandi.
Lit with fiery resolve; people stopped paying other taxes too; all unfair surcharges levied by the British. The protest was not limited to non-violence any more. In several parts of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Gujarat and Karachi (now not part of India); violent protests also broke out but there were no appeals of cessation by the leaders. No, not anymore. That was the March to Dandi.
Dandi – The Town
As a small town in Gujarat; Dandi would be (likely) largely unknown if not for the Salt Satyagraha. But it is famous and has many attractions other than the historical spots. You can visit it as part of your Gujarat trip or go on a quick getaway to this historical town on any weekend or short holiday.
Places of interest in and near Dandi –
Dandi Path: It contains the sites of significance along the route during the March to Dandi. It has been developed for historical and cultural tours. And, thus, it is also the ideal place for family trips in India with children.
National Salt Satyagraha Memorial: This memorial is homage to the March to Dandi and covers an area of more than 15 acres. Its inauguration was held on 30th January, 2019; the death anniversary of the man who led the march. The memorial consists of a monument, life-sized statues depicting the march, solar trees, 22 murals, and an artificial lake.
Dandi Beach: This golden sand beach can be the relaxing end to your Dandi trip. It is the perfect spot for contemplation and reflection after a historic tour of Dandi.
How to reach Dandi: You can take flights to Hyderabad, Delhi, or other cities and then from there fly to Surat. A short train journey will then take you from Surat to Dandi. You can also travel to Dandi via road from Surat. You can book flights to India via Indian Eagle very easily and plan your Dandi trip any time.
The March to Dandi was an event that sparked a nationalist zeal that refused to die during the freedom movement. And you can experience remnants of it in the land where the salt and the fire unified to unify a nation.