Words cannot express the joy of seeing raw cotton turn into thread with every spin of the charkha. The spinning wheel pulls the cotton into coarse thread around a spool. I tried it too and the whole experience was exhilarating. During the British occupation when India was dependant on imports, this little piece was a symbol of defiance that brought confidence amongst a generation of Indians who fought with determination and grit to achieve independence. There are a variety of Charkha’s now, from the original to foldable and lately mechanised ones.
At a stones throw from the ashram, there is a handmade paper recycling unit called Kalamkhush(more on it later) and a wood workshop that makes charkha’s in all sizes and shapes for spinning yarn and for display. Here you can see how the carpenters make and assemble the various pieces.
Don’t be fooled by the unscrupulous men outside the ashram who will try and guide you to private shops.
(Yes it’s Ketan Mehta in the video, he was there to make a documentary)
Charkha at Sabarmati Ashram