Gandhi’s Ashram and some cotton spinning

My followers on Instagram will know that I had a bit of a go at cotton spinning whilst visiting Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedabad.

First though, I need to talk a bit about the Ashram. It is quite a large compound, immaculately kept in Gandhi’s honour.


Guest houses are still intact, as is the room where Gandhi spent his days when he was in residence.


There are many, many artefacts around, including letters, beliefs, photos, etc. I quite liked his sandals.


This wouldn’t be an unreasonable style for the One Year One Outfit challenge next year.  I don’t know how comfortable they would be though.

There was a timeline of Gandhi’s life, which was interesting to read, even though I’ve seen the film. His prayers are scattered around and they make fascinating reading.

The Ashram wasn’t on my bucket list, but it should have been. It might not be as famous as some of the other places we visited, but it certainly had a profound impact on us. He really did lead the most simple of lives. Here is his room, where he wrote, rested, meditated, prayed, and spun cotton.


I immediately zeroed in on that spinning wheel. I didn’t know that Gandhi did 4 hours of spinning every day, even when he was in prison. When we went outside there was a woman spinning cotton using a really interesting spinning device.


I watched her for a while, asked permission to take her photo, and then started asking questions – you can see that she’s talking me through it. She then invited me to sit with her. I think she was a little alarmed at the alacrity with which I sat down!

First she explained the process


Then she guided me through it


I had the best fun! She spun the cotton and wove her shawl. I began to get ideas!


Look at the look on her face! I think she was a little bemused as I was so pleased with myself! I have to say that I can’t believe how strong cotton is. I had half a notion to put a couple of plants on our bush block and then I was told that they bring snakes, so rethinking that one! I might plant them in our suburban garden. I will have to see what sort of conditions they need.  In the meantime I am trying to track down a local source of cotton bolls…


I was really interested in the spinning device. I don’t know if you can see but it’s hinged and has a handle. It folds into a little suitcase. I, of course, half jokingly asked her where she got it and she told me that they sold them in the gift shop! The rest of my trip round the Ashram is a bit of a blur as I hurtled my way towards the gift shop. I was disappointed to find miniatures of the traditional spinning wheel set up for tourists, but asked about the portable one that the woman had been using, and they pulled one off a shelf. It cost $17AUD!!! It is really lightweight as it is plywood, and it is identical to the one in the photos above. All I have to do now is implore customs to let me take it into Australia. I’m feeling fairly confident. Of course I also have to learn to use it :-P.

My last photo is of our driver going the wrong way down the street. Truly, my life flashed before my eyes!


In these photos I am wearing my really simple pull on pants, and this Scout t, and no shoes!


14 thoughts on “Gandhi’s Ashram and some cotton spinning

  1. The look on her face says it all! She certainly did not share your excitment for such a daily chore… So glad you could buy a real spinning device: I’m sure you’ll put it to good use. I’ve seen the film on Gandhi with Ben Kingsley – it was very moving. Thanks for these photos of his ashram.

  2. Congratulations on your new charkha. I just looked them up on the, and their large charkha is $219 US (about $312 AUD)! I hope you can get it home without any problems.

  3. Fascinating. I tried some spinning (alpaca wool) this week, there’s so much to learn. Hope you can get it into the country, will make for a very interesting one year one outfit

    1. Thanks Barbara. It did occur to me that I could try other fibres with it if I can’t source local cotton. The woman made it look so easy. I hope I can coordinate my hands!

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