Kailash Chandra Dash

 Mahatma Gandhi visited Odisha seven times. In this four-part series, Kailash Chandra Dash gives an account of Gandhiji’s remarkable visits.

madhubabu and gandhi

Gandhi & Madhubabu  

Mahatma Gandhi came to Odisha on 19th August, 1925 after getting invitation from Madhusudan Das. He reached Cuttack, the main centre of Odisha politics in early morning. According to Utkal Dipika of 22nd August, 1925, he addressed the people in the morning at about 5 o’clock of 19th August in the Municipality campus in Cuttack. He visited the Utkal Tannery under Madhusudan Das at morning 8 o clock of 19th August. He was accompanied by Mahadeva Desai and Seth Ranglal. Madhusudan Das showed the Tannery and all its functions and activities to Gandhi. He also showed him about the process of manufacturing of the shoes. A felicitation was given by the workers of the Utkal Tannery to Mahatma Gandhi describing him as a great prophet whose aim was to abolish untouchability from India. After visiting the Utkal Tannery Mahatma Gandhi addressed the people in the Municipality field in Cuttack at 5 o clock of 19th August. He stated clearly that his visit was intended to see Madhusudan Das and his workshop in Cuttack and he also emphasized on the laziness and poverty of the people of Odisha.

gandhi in ashram


He considered untouchability as a sin inside Hinduism and he wanted its abolition entirely. He was glad that in Cuttack there was Hindu-Muslim amity and friendship. On 20th August 1925 at 7-30 PM he met the inmates of Alakashrama in the house of Madhusudan Das. The Alakashrama was an Ashram started on Gandhian line for carrying out constructive work in Jagatsinghpur. He spoke to them on national education and remarked that the present educational system has made the intellect the blotting sheets of modern civilization. Gandhi explained to Madhusudan Das and the inmates of Alakashrama about the Western civilization. He stated that one gets inverted letters on blotting papers and these are also illegible. On a blotting paper everything is blurred and indistinct. Similarly western civilization leaves confused imprints on the intellect. This confusion has made the people dull and lethargetic. During that phase Gobinda Mishra had thought about the establishment of Gandhi Sevashrama in Odisha as he was greatly influenced by the programmes of Mahatma Gandhi. He established at Champapur near Salepur of Kendrapara district the famous Gandhi Sevashrama for all Gandhian constructive works.

mahatma Gandhi

Third Visit          

Mahatma Gandhi visited Odisha for the third time in 1927 which was very significant. Utkal Dipika of 26th November 1927 had reported the programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Odisha. According to that report, he would come to Odisha from Ceylon and would reach Brahmapur of Ganjam on 2nd December 1927. He would stay in Ganjam for some days and by December 20, 1927 after visiting Puri, Sambalpur and Balasore he would come to Cuttack. On his arrival on 3rd December, 1927 Utkal Dipika had also welcomed his significant arrival. This welcome report was written by Pranakrushna Padhihari, who wanted to arouse the latent power of the people, welcomed Mahatma and even requested him to make Odisha his central work place instead of Sabarmati Ashram.


In Odisha Mahatma made a tour from Chicacole, Tilaru, Sarvakota, Parlakhemundi and Pundi where he addressed the people on 3rd December and reached Palasa, Barua, Somapetta and Ichhapur on 4th December. On 5th December he reached Brahmapur and inaugurated the Raghunath Swami temple. On 6th December he toured Aska, Gobara, Rasulkonda and Belguntha.On 7th December He went to visit areas in PurushottamPur, Boirani, Polsara, Kodala and Khalikote. He also remained on that day in a Government Bungalow near the lake Chilka. On 8th December Mahatma Gandhi went to Rambha and Banapur from where he addressed the people. He toured Banapur and Bolagarh on 9th December. He also stayed in the District Board Bungalow in Bolgarh after paying necessary expenses. But due to physical labour he became sick and took shelter in the Khalikote palace.

Gopabandhu Chaudhury

From Rambha again he came to Bolgarh through Banapur on 11th December. According to the report of Gopabandhu Chaudhury, Bichitrananda Das, Bhagirathi Mahapatra, Dr. Atal Bihari Acharya, and Madhusudan Biswal in Utkal Dipika of 10th December 1927 the people of Ganjam donated an amount of about Rupees 10000 for Khadi work to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was well treated in Ganjam according to their report. They requested the people of Cuttack to treat Mahatma Gandhi well. In that issue of Utkal Dipika, Basanta Kumari Debi, mother of Ramadevi, a great feminist writer, also requested the women of Cuttack to come forward to support and greet Mahatma Gandhi as he was coming to Cuttack on 20th December. Utkal Dipika in its issues of 10th December and 17th December, 1927 presented the visit of Mahatma to Cuttack and appreciated his constructive programmes. In Banapur before coming to Cuttack Gandhi was a guest in the house of Godavarish Mishra and addressed the people in the mango garden of Balunkeswar temple.

gandhi khadi work

Godavarish Mishra

There were about four thousand people in that meeting. Godavarish Mishra read out the felicitation to Mahatma Gandhi in Odia language. The felicitation articulated the constructive Khadi works and the spinning and weaving programme adopted by Mahatma for the rural poor people of India. Godavarish presented an amount of Rupees 170 to Mahatma on behalf of the people of Banapur. Mahatma after receiving the gift addressed the people to be bold and self-reliant. He told them to accept Khadi, to prohibit liquor and abolish untouchability. After his speech an amount of Rupees 53 was collected for Khadi fund and was presented to him.

Bhadrak, Pirhat, Etamati

Mahatma Gandhi visited Khurdha and Sakhigopal of Puri district on 12th December and he addressed a women gathering at Sakhigopal on 13th December. On that day he also visited Puri. But he did not go to visit Jagannatha temple because the centre was still not allowed for the untouchables. On December 14, he came to Jaleswar and then to Balsore where he was the guest of Mukunda Prasad Das, the famous pleader of Balasore. On 14th he addressed there a women gathing and a general meeting. He also collected funds for khadi work. He could not come to Bhadrak on 15th for his blood pressure and so he came to Bhadrak on 16th. He visited Bhadrak, Pirhat, Etamati and then on 17th he came to visit the flood affected areas of Charbatia where he also addressed a large gathering of people. He was accompanied by Miraben, Mahadeva Desai, Kaka Kalekar, PanditGopabandhu Das and Niranjan Pattnaik. Mahatma also visited Baliapal on that day.

gandhi picture

Cuttack Visit

On 18th December Gandhi came to Cuttack in Puri Passenger train at about 2-20 pm. He was greeted by the volunteers and the public. Ray BahadurJanakinath Bose, the president of the Reception Committee welcomed Mahatma Gandhi to Cuttack. In Cutttack Mahatma at first went to the house of Gopal Chandra Praharaj in a motor vehicle. He observed silence and so for some hours he could not talk to the people. After the break of his silence he talked to Madhusudan Das for some time. He addressed the meeting of 5000 people in the Municipality Campus in Cuttack at about 5-30 evening on 20th December. A felicitation was offered to him on behalf of Cuttack Municipality and it was read out by Pandit Kruttivasa Nanda. It was presented to him in a box. A number of felicitations were offered to Mahatma Gandhi in Cuttack also and funds were collected and offered to Gandhi for his constructive programmes.

gandhi in odisha

During his stay at Cuttack it was decided by him to lay the foundation of the proposed building for Gandhi Sevashrama in Champapur near Salepur of Gobinda Mishra. But as he became ill the work of laying foundation was done by Mira Behn, Kaka Kalekar and Mahadeva Desai. By 1930 this Sebashrama in Chamapur was well known with all constructive Gandhian programmes. Mahatma also visited Sambalpur on 21st and 22nd November 1928 and was felicitated by the Sambalpur Municipality. He also addressed the people there on constructive rural programmes. (To Continue)

(The writer is a scholar and historian)


Gandhi in Odisha – I
Gandhi in Odisha – II