Gandhi’s Johannesburg Tour

Gandhi Outside his Johannesburg office

Mahatma Gandhi’s Johannesburg heritage tour

Story of the life (in Johannesburg) of Mahatma Gandhi.

Heritage tour – Birthplace of Satyagraha – passive resistance.

Private – Professional – fully guided tours – 7 days a week.

Gandhi timeline, Satyagraha house, Johannesburg

Ekala Eco Tours can cover some of the history around Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg in a day tour or even half day. However to cover Gandhi’s time in Johannesburg in a more comprehensive way, consequently does required 3 days.

Indeed, a full day – 8 to 9 hours, does allow for an excellent understanding on Gandhi’s time in Johannesburg.

Accordingly to be able to structure a tour around your requirements and time available – we need to be supplied with clear timing and collection and drop off address – hotel name. If one of the points is the airport – I need full flight details.

Once we have these it will be possible to quote/advise and structure a day or multi day package accordingly around your requirements/timing.

Mohandas (Mahatma) Karamchand Gandhi. Mahatma meaning “Great Soul”.

Gandhi images, Johannesburg

Gandhi in Johannesburg – 1903 to 1914

Tour covering the people, the policy (Satyagraha) and the places of importance to Mahatma Gandhi in and around Johannesburg during his stay.

Johannesburg – Birthplace of Satyagraha (passive resistance).

Even more, Gandhi’s political Baptism was in Johannesburg and these political preoccupations consequently brought his Johannesburg legal practice to a standstill.

Story of the life (in Johannesburg) of a lawyer, religious man, philosopher, activist and world-renowned pacifist leader for free society, Mahatma Gandhi.

Items covered on Gandhi’s Johannesburg heritage tour

Gandhi’s arrival in Johannesburg

Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 as a young attorney, to handle legal matters for Indian merchants. He moved to Johannesburg in 1903. Accordingly Gandhi spent the early stage of his stay in Johannesburg establishing his legal firm.

From 1906 Gandhi became actively involved in politics. This helped formulate his ideas on passive resistance.

Several events in South Africa were decisive in Gandhi’s growth from young, shy lawyer to world-renowned advocate of passive resistance.

Gandhi fought an ever tightening grip of racially based laws.

Pass Law requiring the caring a personal identification registration certificate. Gandhi encouraged his colleagues to burn their passes.

Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act and the Asiatic Law amendment Ordinance. Required all Asian’s to provide a thumb print in addition to their personal identification registration certificates.

Separate facilities/classes

Gandhi was thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg on his way to Pretoria for being in a white only section.

He struggled to find a hotel in Johannesburg that would allow an Asian to rent a room.

Refused accommodation in 1893 in the Grand National Hotel, Johannesburg. Being told that, as an Asian, he could not eat in the hotel dining room.

Ordered off the pavement/sidewalk and forced to walk in the road.

Refused access to Johannesburg’s first lift (elevator) in Victory house and forced to use the stairs. Walking was certainly preferred by Gandhi. However the principle was that Europeans were carried in the elevator, thus demeaning for him to take the stairs.

Johannesburg’s main mode of transport at this time was horse drawn trams, later electric trams. These however were reserved for whites only. Gandhi chose to walk, with distances to his office in Johannesburg being 10 km and 35 km to the Tolstoy farm.

Hindu and Muslim marriages, by act of the Supreme Court were not recognized. Thus invalidated all Hindu and Muslim marriages and therefore children from such marriages were regarded as illegitimate.

Braamfontein Cemetery early racial layout, Johannesburg


It was in Johannesburg that Mahatma Gandhi developed his Passive resistance “Satyagraha” philosophy.

In demanding equal rights with an end to discrimination laws, Gandhi developed Satyagraha.

Advocating mass defiance with passive resistance against unjust racial laws.

Mohandas (Mahatma) Karamchand Gandhi quotes include

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Gandhi exhibition, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

Lasting impact on Mahatma Gandhi’s time in South Africa

Specifically during the early years of the Freedom Struggle in South Africa.

Gandhi left his passive resistance philosophy of Satyagraha in South Africa, which was accordingly adopted by the African National Congress and used in mass anti-apartheid Campaigns.

This remained the policy of the ANC protest until the 1960s, when the ANC finally decided to resort to violent means of protest against apartheid.

Gandhi’s policies subsequently played an important role during the 1980’s during the mass protests that eventually led to the defeat of Apartheid.

Gandhi – a Hindu familiar with the Bible, believing everyone’s connection to God was a personal matter. With this in mind, he was a man of all religions.

Perfect tour options to include with our Gandhi Johannesburg tour to create a multi day historical/cultural tour:

Artwork outside Hamida mosque reflecting Gandhi’s principles
Johannesburg Station, early 1900's

Significant places during (and after) his stay in Johannesburg

Indian Location, Brickveld, Johannesburg:

Known as the “coolie location” and was the first Indian settlement in Johannesburg. Became a mixed area and demolished by local authorities in 1904 after the breakout of the plague.


Original known as the Malay location, was where the Indian residents of the Indian location were moved after outbreak of the plague.

Temporary Plague Hospital:

Set up by Gandhi to care for the sick and to contain the spread of the plague. Gandhi additionally recruited volunteers and nursed the sick patients. The area is today known as Newtown.

Indian market:

Market theatre complex.

Hamidia Mosque:

The burning of registration certificates in mass by 3000 Muslims, Hindus and Christians in resistance to the requirement that all Asian’s carry identity certificates.

Johannesburg Law court – now Gandhi Square:

Site of the first courthouse and called Government Square. Directly across road from Gandhi’s Law offices. In Gandhi’s honour a statue was erected to commemorate Gandhi’s role in shaping South Africa.

Gandhi’s Law offices/Court Chambers Johannesburg:

Gandhi established his chambers in central Johannesburg, directly opposite government square and the courthouse. Gandhi additionally lived for a time behind his law office.

Alexandra Tea Room:

Gandhi used to patronize this early Johannesburg restaurant and where he promoted vegetarianism. Located in central Johannesburg, close to Gandhi’s’ office.


Once Gandhi’s residence – now Satyagraha House.

Orange Grove:

A suburb of Johannesburg where Gandhi lived with a partner in his legal business, Henry Pollak.

Gaiety Theatre:

Meeting place and where Gandhi initiated pass burning.


A suburb on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Gandhi lived with Hermann Kallenbach from 1908 -1910 in a house he named ‘The Kraal’.

Tolstoy farm:

1 100 acres of land 35 km south-west of Johannesburg bought for Gandhi and the passive resisters by Hermann Kallenbach. Became the home for supporters of the Satyagraha movement. They grew their own vegetables and fruit trees.

The Fort (old fort prison, Johannesburg):

Gandhi and many other activists were arrested and held as prisoner in the fort. The old fort now makes up part of the Constitution Hill Complex and has additionally an excellent display on Gandhi’s time at the fort.

Old Park Station:

Johannesburg’s station at the time of Gandhi’s stay. On one occasion it was required that Gandhi walk from the station in prison uniform to the old fort.

Observatory ridge:

Today a memorial for the “Indian details”. A contingent of non-combatant Indians (stretcher bearers) who helped with the British war effort during the Anglo Boer War.

Braamfontein Cemetery:

Passive resisters and the “Indian details” as listed above and many of the people that were in Johannesburg at the same time as Gandhi, are buried here.

Brixton Cemetery:

Gandhi negotiated with the Johannesburg city council for building of the first Hindu crematorium in Johannesburg, first in Africa. Brixton Cemetery was allocated for the crematorium.

Empire Theatre:

A protest meeting at the theatre led to passive resistance being born. Gandhi addressed the protesters before marching through Johannesburg. The march ended in Gandhi and others being arrested and imprisoned at the fort (today Constitution Hill).


A suburb on the eastern side of Johannesburg where Gandhi lived. He additionally stayed in Bellevue East, Mountain View and Orchards.

Sacke’s Building:

Designed and built by Gandhi’s close friend, Hermann Kallenbach. This became Kallenbach’s office, fourth floor, where Gandhi frequently visited as it was only a few minutes’ walk from his law office.

Masonic Hall:

Gandhi lectured on Hinduism at the Masonic hall and his farewell banquet before leaving Johannesburg in 1914 was held in the hall.

Masonic Temple and Central Baptist Church and its Manse.

Gandhi Hall, Lenasia:

Built in the 1980’s to replace the original Gandhi Hall of central Johannesburg.

Gandhi Outside his Johannesburg office with friends

People who played a part of his life in Johannesburg.

Hermann Kallenbach: Jewish architect originally from Lithuania and very close friend to Gandhi.

Henry Pollak and Lewis Ritch: Partners in law firm with Gandhi and took over day to day running of the firm while Gandhi was politically active. Lewis Ritch later bought the law firm from Gandhi.

Jan Smuts: Gandhi’s main political opponent.

Reverend Joseph Doke and his wife took Gandhi home and nursed his injuries after an assault in Johannesburg.

Nagappen Padayachee: Arrested for hawking, selling goods on the street without a permit. Received a sentence of 10 days hard labour and was required to walk to the prison camp 26 km away. Padayachee fell ill and died soon after his release.

Adolf Ziegler: A German health enthusiast and owner of the first Johannesburg vegetarian restaurant. Gandhi had for many years promoted vegetarianism.

Gandhi with Hermann Kallenbach, early Johannesburg
Gandhi protest outside Hamida mosque, early Johannesburg
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Gandhi Statue, Gandhi Square, Johannesburg

Ekala Family & Guides

Ekala Family & Guides

We pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history, culture and wildlife.

With our vast experience and expertise, we will, above all, ensure you leave full of memories.

Ekala will additionally endeavor to personalise your tour according to individual time as well as requirements.

Furthermore Ekala personally conducts and organise all our tours and safaris as highly experience and professional guides.

Consequently you get an enhanced understanding of South Africa’s wildlife, history and diverse cultures.

Early 1900"s Government house, downtown Johannesburg

Enjoying and respecting South Africa’s national assets - wildlife, environment and the people.

An Historical/Cultural tour and Safari to remember for the right reason

Gandhi Bust, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

Gandhi on his feelings on leaving Johannesburg in 1914:

“I learnt during all those years to love Johannesburg”

“It was in Johannesburg that I found my most precious friends”

“It was in Johannesburg that the foundation of passive resistance was laid”

“Johannesburg therefore had the holiest of all the holy associations that Mrs Gandhi and I will carry back to India”

Gandhi plaque, Gandhi Square, Johannesburg


No prices on our website due to the unique, individual and specialised requirements for each tour we supply.

Ekala structure our tours/safari's around our client’s individual requirements.

If time is limited:

We indeed structure the tour from arrival to departure – including airport collection and drop off.

Accordingly using all time available as a fully guided professional tour.

In contrast, not simply a point to point mixed group drive around.

As a result, tour quote based on your specific requirements.

Hindu Crematorium plaque, Johannesburg

Our tours are non-invasive.

Cultural tours/township tours as Soweto/Alexandra:

We do NOT go into private houses.

Or invade the township resident's privacy in any way.

Gandhi Outside his Johannesburg office
Original Hindu Crematorium, Johannesburg
Gandhi image as young man, Satyagraha house, Johannesburg