iSurprise Vanita Vishram

A school for young widows, inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi

The school was founded for women, especially widows, Today, the school has blossomed like a tree from the seeds planted by our founder.
— Krupali Shastri, principal and graduate of the school

Women empowerment

Over a hundred years ago, 16-year-old widow, Sulochana Desai, found her calling in helping out other young widows. With the help of her parents she began a small school and library in a room here at the Jethabhai ni Pol. A place of ‘vishram’ or ‘shelter’ for the city’s widows where they could stay, learn skills like embroidery, sewing and machine work to become self-reliant. Until independence the school thrived as a place of vocational learning. Now it has become a primary school for girls, but the special spirit has always remained.


The school façade is an exquisite example of delicate woodwork, louvered windows and bold masonry arches. The 2001 Gujarat earthquake damaged some walls, but the arched structure and thick walls kept the building was intact.

Auspicious stone

The school was inaugurated by Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi. The foundation stone is at the exact spot where the founder of the school, Sulochana Desai, saw Lord Shiva’s statue in a dream. When they dug a hole, they miraculously found a complete set of statues of Lord Shiva, Parvati and Hanuman, Ganpati! Even today, students and teachers hold a daily prayer at the site.

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