Mumbai, Nov.6 (ANI): Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday described Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, as "hero not just to India, but to the world" during a personal pilgrimage to Mani Bhawan, the home Gandhi used whenever he visited Bombay at the height of the country's freedom struggle against British colonial rule.
After a 30-minute tour of the place, Obama wrote: "I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a hero, not just to India but to the world."
US First Lady Michelle Obama wrote: "This visit will be one that I will always treasure. The life and teachings of Gandhi must be shared with our children around the world."
The president also read the remarks written by American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who visited Mani Bhawan in 1959.
Situated on a quiet lane, Laburnum Road, in South Mumbai, Mani Bhawan hosted Gandhi between 1917 and 1934. Today, it is a museum that houses a number of rare memorabilia related to him.
About Mahatma Gandhi, whose sayings and photos adorn Obama's home, the American president wrote in the guest book: "I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a hero not just to India but to the world."
Gandhi has inspired Americans and African Americans, including Martin Luther King, he added.
The Obamas spent sometime alone in Gandhi's old room, which has a bed, a small desk and his spinning wheel.
Obama's admiration for Mahatma Gandhi is well known. Last year, during an interaction with students back home, he was asked who he would have liked to have dinner with anyone dead or alive, and he said: "You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine."
Obama said then that Gandhi changed the world just by the power of his ethics.
Mani Bhawan was the place where Gandhi learnt how to spin cotton. He used the charkha as a symbol to show the country how it could wean itself away from textile products manufactured by mills in Britain.
He used Mani Bhawan to fine-tune his non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British that forced them to eventually leave India.
The area was surrounded by a vast shamiana spanning five-odd buildings. White curtains were drawn on all sides to keep prying eyes out. Security was also tight in the area during the visit.
Locals expressed their disappointment at not being allowed a glimpse of the Obamas'. (ANI)