Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library

The gorgeous Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library is located on the banks of River Ganges, next to the bustling Ashok Rajpath. It is a national library that was opened to the public in 1891. The beauty of its exhibits is that they are one man's collection – assimilated by Mohammad Baksh and then added to by his son Khuda Baksh. Mohammad Baksh gave a collection of 1,400 manuscripts to his son, who turned them into a passion.

A special person was hired by Khuda Baksh to travel to Arab countries to source manuscripts that could be added to this collection. In 1888, he got a two-storey building constructed for 4,000 manuscripts and opened it to the general public. Today, the library is visited by scholars from across the globe in search of research material.

Apart from a huge collection of Urdu literature, the library houses rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Rajput artwork, Mughal paintings, unique items like the holy Quran inscribed on a book merely 25 mm wide and a mix of books and literature from the Moorish University of Cordoba in Spain. One will also find books belonging to the Mughal period that have handmade paintings showcasing the life and culture of those times. There are manuscripts showcasing excellent calligraphy skills, written on palm leaves. Many of these volumes cannot be found elsewhere in the world. There are 21,000 oriental manuscripts and over two-and-a-half lakh books in this library today. The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library was declared as an Institution of National Importance by an act of Parliament in 1969. It is now completely funded by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The library has a printing press that prints a journal every three months and a conservation lab to help preserve the ancient manuscripts.

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