On his return from South Africa, Gandhi’s first ashram originally established at the Kocharab Bungalow of Jivanlal Desai, a barrister and friend of Gandhi, on 25 May 1915.
But Gandhi wanted to carry out various activities such as farming and animal husbandry, in addition to other pursuits which called for the need of a much larger area of usable land.
So two years later, on 17 June 1917, the ashram was relocated to an area of thirty-six acres on the banks of the river Sabarmati, and it came to be known as the Sabarmati Ashram.
It is believed that this is one of the ancient ashram sites of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war. His main ashram lies in Naimisharanya, near Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Sabarmati Ashram is one of the first Dalit residence, they lived with Mahatma Gandhi at the ashram in the 1920s. Dudabhai Dafda’s family was among the first harijan families who had come to stay at the ashram in 1917.
When people got to know that Dudabhai was a Harijan, they questioned Gandhiji, asking how could he let a Harijan reside in the ashram. To which Gandhiji said that Dudabhai will continue to reside in ashram and use the well too, and people in the ashram will have to accept it or find another way. The residents gradually accepted it.
The Sabarmati ashram is sited between a prison and a crematorium, and Gandhi believed that a satyagrahi has invariably to go to either place.
It was from here that on 12 March 1930, Gandhi started Dandi march. This mass civil disobedience in turn led to the imprisioning of some 60,000 by the British Raj over the following three weeks. Subsequently, the government seized the ashram.
Gandhi later asked the Government to give it back but they were unwilling. He had by then already decided on 22 July 1933 to disband the ashram, which then became a deserted place after the detention of so many. Then local citizens decided to preserve it.
On 12 March 1930 Gandhi had vowed that he would not return to the ashram until India had gained independence. Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948, his last visit to the ashram was in 1936.