A month after the Kochrab ashram,which was set up by Mahatma Gandhi after he returned from South Africa to launch the satyagraha movement,was thrown open to tourists for home stays,officials said not a single booking has been made in spite of this being a holiday season.
Although there have been many inquiries,no one has actually gone ahead and taken the Rs 1,000 per day offer.
The Gujarat Vidyapith,a university set up by Gandhi,which is the custodian of the ashram,had tied up with travel operator Maroon Migrates to launch the Live Gandhi for a While package on the Mahatmas 144th birth anniversary. It offered tourists who wanted to take a break from routine life a stay at the ashram for a minimum of five days to maximum of 11 days and practice at least five of the 11 vows of Gandhi.
The vows are Satya (truth),Bramhacharya (chastity),Ahimsa (non-violence),Ashteya (non-stealing),Aparigraha (non-possession),Sharirshrama (physical labour),Aswada (control of palate),Sarvatra Bhayavrajana (fearlessness),Sarva Dharma Samantva (religious equality),Swadeshi (use of local made goods) and Sparshbhavna (untouchability).
To experience untouchability and fearlessness,the package also included tours of slums and a crematorium,depending on what the client wants,said Nischalavalamb Barot,who runs Maroon Migrates.
Barot is still in the process of putting up the Gandhian offer on his commercial website.
As far as practising the vows are concerned,it will be the individuals choice. For example,if a couple want to follow chastity they may not need to stay separately to come from within. There is no hard and fast rule. Our arrangement is such that an individual has to live the way ashramites lived if he or she truly wants, said Barot.
For physical labour,a tourist will have to help in kitchen such as cooking,cleaning dishes,cutting vegetables,besides cleaning the ashram premises,toilets and gardening. Similarly,for following Aswada,a tourist can cook or order simple food in accordance with their taste,but avoid wastage.
The rooms are simple with two iron beds and attached toilet and a water pot.
There is no set criteria for food or following any of the vows of Gandhi. A tourist has to decide what all he or she wants and which way, said Barot.
He said inquiries have been coming in from across the country and abroad but no one has made any booking. There are four people who have shown keen interest and are likely to book,he said.
Vidyapith Vice-Chancellor Sudarshan Iyenger denied that the venture would commercialise a Gandhian heritage. Today an institute cant rely solely on the state to manage itself. It must find a way out. By bringing tourists here doesnt mean that the ashram is going to be used commercially. The scheme is not for profiteering, he said.