Andhra Arts Academy general secretary Golla Narayana Rao inspects the Gandhi Building at One Town in Vijayawada. (Photo:DC/ Narayana Rao)
VIJAYAWADA: A family of freedom fighters is preserving the memories of Mahatma Gandhi in their house here for decades and educating younger generations about the connection Vijayawada had with the Indian Freedom Movement.
The visits of the Mahatma to what was then Bezawada six times ignited freedom spirit among the Telugu people and strengthened the Azadi Sangram, giving it a prominent place in the freedom struggle.
Andhra Arts Academy chairman Golla Narayana Rao belongs to the freedom fighters’ family that lived in the one-town area of Vijayawada city, preserving the 101-year-old room where the Mahatma stayed during his visit to Vijayawada in 1921.
Narayana said his father Golla Radhakrishna Murthy gave the name of his grandfather to him and he was very fortunate to get the freedom fighter’s name.
Gandhi came to Vijayawada for the All India Congress meeting on March 31 and 1 April, 1921 and later for the Swaraj Nidhi campaign. "My grandfather donated Rs 25,000 to the Congress. Mahatma Gandhi with wife Kasturba, Vallabhai Patel, Vithalbhai Patel and Devdas Gandhi stayed in our house," he recollected.
The family still preserves the almirah and the room used by the Mahatma as homage to the father of the nation. The family offered food in gold plates to Gandhi and other leaders but the Mahatma ate the food in his own silver plate and took the gold plate as a donation to the Swarajya Nidhi.
"Vijayawada worked as a ‘Nerve Centre’ in the Indian Freedom Movement but the present generation is unaware about these. My father Radhakrishna Murthy later turned into a Communist saddened over the increase in corruption in the Congress party but never shunned Gandhian path."
"The 100-year-old house is badly damaged and we are planning to renovate it," Narayana said.
Notably, in 1921, freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya, a staunch follower of the Mahatma from Bhatlapenumarru near Machilipatnam designed the tricolour national flag and presented it to Gandhi during the CWC meeting in Vijayawada. Gandhi approved the design and later it was officially adopted as the national flag by replacing ‘Charka’ with ‘Ashok Chakra’.
The descendants of the freedom fighters in Vijayawada noted that the Mahatma visited Bezawada six times between 1919 and 1946. He came to Vijayawada first on March 31, 1919 and spoke on Satyagraha at a public meeting at Rammohan Roy Library. Gandhi’s visits to various areas in the region had a huge impact on the Telugu people joining the freedom movement.