Charkha at Sabarmati Ashram

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 by Anand Prakash
It’s been more than 15 years that I have been looking at India for inspiration and one of them has been Mahatma Gandhi as I believe in many of his thoughts and teachings. To this day he inspires millions and a gift commemorating him is exchanged by people of all faiths and cultures across the world. It started from a simple bookmark in the silhouette of Gandhiji, then the round spectacles, hand-spun cotton-bound journals a little later, gifts for the Indo-African summit commissioned by a private organisation which included salt from Dandi and soil from Porbandar neatly packaged in recycled wood boxes and finally this; Charkha prototypes in wood and metal. Our charkhas have functional parts that rotate. These are the first prototypes and I am now awaiting final improvised pieces.

In the last few months, Sabarmati Ashram has started retailing our Mahatma Gandhi souvenirs and in the coming months, we will be working closely to develop more.

I am working on a 99 pieces signature limited-edition boxes that will contain a charkha, pocket watch, salt from Dandi and cotton hand-spun on a wooden charkha, I may also include his three monkeys and wooden clog. Like always, there is no timeline, it maybe this season, next year or sometime in the future. It is one of the many ideas that my team is currently working on.