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Library Tourism – An Unlikely Travel Trend Of Visiting Libraries In Today’s Digital World

5 Fascinating Indian Libraries you Must Visit


“Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Traveling is a journey not only to new places, but new cultures as well. It is when we ‘travel local’ that we truly open ourselves to new experiences. There are many such exploratory travel trends: festival hopping, adventure travels, food trails, and others. Library tourism is the latest in the ever-changing scene of travel trends. Spending time at a library shows a glimpse of a city’s culture.


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Image Courtesy: Etsy.com


Book lovers are increasingly adding libraries to their travel plans – be it traveling to see a specific rare book or simply taking some time off to visit local libraries. Libraries are typically the most neglected of monuments and establishments of the public domain. However, with people seeking digital detox and authentic journeys, spending time at libraries is gaining popularity.



5 Fascinating Indian Libraries you Must Visit


Some libraries have fascinating histories, such as:


  • Sarasvati Mahal Library of Tanjore, Tamil Nadu


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Image Courtesy: Saraswatimahal.in


Located inside the Thanjavur Royal Palace, the Sarasvati Mahal Library is famous for ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves. It was built during 1535 – 1675 AD by the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur. Later on, the Maratha rulers used it as their royal library.


You can sit and read some of the well-preserved books, visit the library museum for in-depth knowledge of the books housed here, or simply walk around the library and admire the intricate, colorful murals and ornate architecture.



  • Raza Library of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh


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A breathtakingly beautiful library towering over Rampur


Often libraries have fascinating architecture and stories built into them.  Such as the Raza Library of Rampur which is a protected monument built in the Indo-European style. This palatial structure with romantic domes and turrets houses ancient books collected by the Nawabs of Rampur. The collection of rare illustrated Arabic and Persian books are a major attraction.



  • David Sassoon Library and Reading Room of Mumbai, Maharashtra


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Image Courtesy: Bombaywalla.org


Located in Colaba, the heart of Mumbai is the beautiful David Sassoon Library. This Venetian Gothic style building, built using a contrasting, cheerful yellow Malad stone is a charming structure. Huge, arched windows lend an airy feeling to the reading room. Stroll into the dense gardens, with a book, and you will be transported from the hustle bustle of Mumbai.





  • Asiatic Society Library of Calcutta, West Bengal


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Image Courtesy: Indian Express


While most tourists stop by Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, only a few take the time to explore the libraries here. Travelers with an intellectual bent who visit the Asiatic Society Library in the city, are rewarded with cultural and historical insights. Established in the 1780’s, it is one of the historical landmarks of Calcutta. It has preserved many old Indian manuscripts, the most famous being the Padshah Nama bearing the signature of Emperor Shahjahan.




  • Nehru Memorial Museum And Library of New Delhi


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Image Courtesy: Yatra.com


This famous library is housed in India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s residence. It is a classy, elegant, and peaceful residence which sets it apart from other libraries.


The house was designed in the 1930s by Robert Tor Russell – who also designed Connaught Place and Eastern and Western Courts on Janpath.


Step in and explore the rich collection of books about colonial and post-colonial India, including some rare Mahatma Gandhi writings. You will also find a rich collection of books on Social Sciences and over 400 journals and periodicals.



Libraries come in all shapes and sizes, with the most captivating books housed within.  Visit a library in your city and see what stories it tells you. The next time you are traveling, indulge in some library tourism. This hallowed space, away from the crowds, is sure to quieten your mind and bring peace. You might even make it a regular part of all your travel itineraries.


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Seema Misra is a freelance artist and writer. To unwind, she watches world cinema or travels across it. She talks to her plants and sometimes people as well. She is as passionate about travel as she is about her art. She figured that the best way to combine her two passions would be through a self-illustrated travelogue of her cosy and enchanting sojourns across the country. She blogs at www.lonelycanopy.com


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