“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”
There could not have been a better explanation of the importance of libraries. Books are the weapons of mass change and libraries are the agents of change.
Personally, I believe in Hermione’s principle, “when in doubt, go to the library!” I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I am in a library. I know with the internet everything is online, but books and libraries still have their own charm. Book nerds will understand the feeling!
If there is one place in Pune, every book lover must have visited at least once is the Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir.
If you are passionate about the history of Maharashtra and would love to trace its evolution through literature, Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir is the perfect place for you. Built in 1848, it is the oldest standing and functioning libraries in Pune.
Back in the 19th century, when the intellectual revolution against the British was taking shape, libraries played a vital role, as they provided the space for all the progressive thinkers to come together and have discussions without censorship.
Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir was initially formed as the Poona Native General Library at Budhwarwada. However, when the place burnt away, thinkers and reformers like Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, Lokhitvadi Gopalrao Hari Deshmukh, Krishnashatri Chiploonkar, Prof.Kero Laxman Chhatre, Daji Neelkanth Nagarkar, Vishnu Parshuram Ranade, Sonya Bapu Mande and Vishnu Moreshwar Bhide came together to re-established the institution in 1879.
Even today, this library stands tall as a symbol of Maharashtra’s rich intellectual traditions. Today, the library houses more than 50,000 books and has almost 3000 active members. What is even more interesting, is the fact that the membership is just Rs 30 per month and members can issue three books every week.
Changing with the evolving times is a crucial part of growing and Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir has not only understood but also implemented that. The library has embraced this new era of social media and Kindles and now has an online presence. Not just this, the library also has a home delivery service, all the members have to do is call up the library and tell the librarians about the book or the author they are looking for and the books will be at your doorstep.
Despite its modern outlook, the library hasn’t lost its old world charm. The archaic architecture, the wooden cupboards, the high ceiling fans and most importantly the smell of old books are sure to take you for a walk down the memory lane.
If you are pensive and are looking for some time by yourself, there’s no better place for you than a library, and if it’s an old one like Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir, it’s nothing less than a jackpot.
Cover image source: thealternative