Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie on Wednesday paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram where his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi played the guide as he showed them around the place. The trio arrived at the Ashram at around 4:30 p.m after holding an 8-km road show from the city airport. Abe and the first lady then took a round of different wings of the Ashram, where Gandhi lived for about 12 years with his wife Kasturba, guiding the non-violent struggle for freedom from colonial rule.
“Love and Thanks”, Abe wrote in a short message in Japanese on the visitors’ log book which was also signed by his wife.
The couple, dressed in traditional Indian attire, went inside ‘Hriday Kunj’, the small house where Gandhi lived, and had their photographs clicked with a ‘charkha’ (spinning wheel), which was emblematic of India’s quest for self-reliance during the freedom struggle.
Modi, Abe, and the Japanese first lady then paid floral tributes at Gandhi’s statue.
Like a courteous and indulgent host, Modi showed the couple around the ashram.
The three sat for a while by the Sabarmati Riverfront on the backside of the Ashram.
Modi showed them the statuettes of Gandhi’s famous ‘three monkeys’ that symbolised his philosophy of peace and tolerance, with one of them covering its eyes, the second its mouth, and the third its ears in the gesture of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
The three wise monkeys, also called mystic apes, are said to have their origin in Japan in the 17th century.
They spent nearly 25 minutes at the ashram before visiting an iconic medieval era mosque– Sidi Saiyyed–an architectural marvel located in the eastern part of the world heritage city.
The 16th century mosque is known across the world for its intricate stone lattice work locally known as ‘jalis’. The mosque is popularly called ‘Sidi Saiyyed ni Jali’.
Modi took the couple on a brief tour of the mosque and explained to them the importance of the heritage monument built in 1573.
The iconic ‘jali’ on the wall of the mosque is the official logo of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad became the first city in the country to be included in the World Heritage City list by UNESCO in July this year.
The leaders then headed to the nearby ‘Agashiye’ restaurant for dinner in the old city area.