Historic Hardayal Municipal Public Library building restored after years of wait


Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  There is some good news for lovers of books and heritage. The historical Hardayal Municipal Public Library (HMPL) is set to reopen for readers and visitors after undergoing first major restoration in over a century. The facility near Chandni Chowk Metro Station is known for its rare collections of books and manuscripts including some that are over 300- yearold. It was set up in 1862, as part of a reading club meant for the British residents.

Union minister and Chandni Chowk MP Dr Harsh Vardhan, and north Delhi Jai Prakash unveiled the restored library on Friday. Though the efforts for its conservation were launched about six year following the intervention of the then L-G Najeeb Jung, the work could only begin last year.

Dr Vardhan said that the historic library had played an important role to promote book reading culture and after restoration it would attract more readers. Prakash added that readers and visitors would be allowed soon after the directions from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority. Several institutions including libraries are closed these days. in view of the coronavirus pandemic. “A reading area, computer room, staff seating area and space for books have been arranged on the ground floor.

Another reading area and more books are on the mezzanine floor. The structure was in a poor state,” said Prakash. “The restoration was undertaken after about 104 years at a cost of about `2.83 crore. The digitisation and conservation work of rare books was done by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA),” he said, The library has vast repository of 1.25 lakh books including rare and rich historical collection of 8,000 books.

These inlcude Travaile Begvenne’s ‘Relation of some year’ printed in 1634, a handwritten Koran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and Persian translation of Mahabharata by Abul Raizi. Besides 350 handwritten manuscripts, the library also possesses some centuries old works such as History of the world (1677), Bhagwat Mahapuran (1800), Mahabharata in Persian by Abul Fazl, Prem Sagar (1881), which is the first book written in Braj Bhasha. HMPL is the one of the oldest public libraries in the national capital.

It’s named after freedom fighter Lala Hardayal, a resident of old Delhi. The library is an autonomous body but the financial requirement is managed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

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