Mumbai: US President Barack Obama on Saturday visited the former Mumbai home of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi and spoke of the “inspiration” of the man he has cited as a key personal influence.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, spent time touring the library lined with legal books belonging to the former lawyer, who went on to become the leader of the independence movement against British colonial rule.
Obama also saw a spinning loom said to be the one that Gandhi used whenever he stayed at the house on his visits to the city between 1917 and 1934. The US president also read inscriptions on many of the artefacts on display.
“I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to visit this testament to Gandhi,” Obama wrote in the visitors’ book. “He is a hero not just to India, but to the world.”
The president, who arrived in Mumbai for the first leg of a four-nation Asia tour earlier Saturday, name-checked Gandhi in his Nobel peace prize speech and had a portrait of him in his US Senate office.
The house, Mani Bhavan, was also where the US civil rights leader Martin Luther King — another figure whom Obama has said shaped his political views and ideology — stayed in Mumbai more than half a century ago.
Obama paused for a time at a large bronze bust of Gandhi, which was surrounded by floral tributes for the occasion, and saw Dr King’s signature in one of the guest books.
“Pretty cool. 1959,” he said. “What a great book.”
Obama spoke to museum officials as he left the library and told them he would return one day with his two daughters, Malia and Sasha.