Exclusive: A treasure called Amir-ud-daula Public library

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Zohheb Farooqui and Kissa Naqvi

  Lucknow: “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” These words of legendary Spanish writer Jorge Luis Borges rightly describe the charisma of books and the charm of reading. Now if we think like Mr. Borges, we have an absolute paradise gleaming in the capital city of Uttar Pradesh but the light it emits remains unheeded by the townspeople. Reason apparently being, nobody wants to take the pain of turning pages of a book when they are just a ‘touch’ away from whatever they wish to read.

This way, the books keep begging us to go through them but how can we leave our cellphones?? Today, we have no choice but abandoning the libraries! Following is one of such retirement homes for books:

Amir-ud-daula Public Library: An ‘Underrated Heaven’

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Great Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” In this way, Amir-ud-daula Public Library is a place full of life. Interestingly, the historic library was first established in 1882 as a part of the Provincial Museum.

It was later reestablished as a public library during the Mughal rule in India in 1910. Eventually, what could have been called as the ‘swarga of avid readers’ was named as Amir-ud-daula Public Library following an agreement between the then government and British India Association in 1925. More than being just a historic den of books, the three-story building of Amir-ud-daula Public Library has been history in itself.

 

An accumulation of books, a treasury of knowledge:

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The library has a rich collection of variety of books, be it old or latest. Its shelves are chock-a-block with publications in different languages like Hindi, Urdu, English, Bengali, Arabic, etc. From historical pieces of literature to works of contemporary writers, the library has everything under the sun.

The availability of books and their kinds in the library can astound and impress anyone. There are more than two lakh pieces of literature including 371 manuscripts in Sanskrit, 56 in Persian as well as seven palm-leaf manuscripts in Urdu. Antiques like ‘birch bark manuscripts’ are also kept intact within the public library. Strangely, some of the manuscripts are hundreds of years old which cannot be found elsewhere on the planet.

 

The Turkish History – Another precious gem under the ocean of books:

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Though the library is inclusive of numerous period pieces, a book titled as ‘The Turkish History’ is deemed its real asset. The historic piece of literature was penned down by English writer Ricart. The book was brought to the City of Nawabs in 1687 and has been lying at Amir-ud-daula Public Library, ever since. In this age of technology, The Turkish History has been enticing the young generations into the library as they want to have a close look at the historic piece of literature.

 

The library extends an invitation to youth:

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Many regular visitors can be seen spending time at the library but what it misses is the presence of youngsters. To allure the youth, the authority looks forward to computerising the entire system of the library.

“Nowadays, books have been replaced by laptops and cellphones but people still pay visits to libraries. This shows the love for books among them is still gasping for breath and that it can be revived by efforts,” says Shashikala, the librarian of Amir-jud-daula Public Library. According to her, there are plans to resuscitate the library and convert the hardbacks into e-books and these plans will be implemented very soon.

 

Photos display the history of the Nawabi City:

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Apart from having a massive collection of unique books, the library exhibits a large number of aesthetic photographs portraying the history of Lucknow. One taking a look at these pictures can see the changing times of the prominent city.

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