National Library Kolkata

National Library Kolkata

On a solitary afternoon, you have got an early leave from your office and now searching for something special which can make your day successful! You love to read books but you don't get your desired ones last time. So the only option is the National Library where you can spend quality time with a huge collection of books. You will get every version and edition of ancient books. Nowadays people have become trendy to read an e-book. But there are few people who love to take the smell of a book, habituated to reading books all day long. If you are as kind as that kind of person who loves to read books, it will be the best place for you.


For bibliophiles and experience seekers alike, libraries are nothing short of a wonderland. The vast abundant availability of knowledge and fantasies makes us feel like transcending to some different state of reality. Added to that, if the place holds enormous importance from the historical, cultural and tourism viewpoint, it’s nothing less than a dream come true. One such amazing place is the Indian National Library, also simply known as just National Library, located in the scenic surroundings of historical Belvedere Estate in Alipore area of Kolkata.


You can visit here with your colleagues or friends. It will help you to gather more knowledge by discussing with them. If you want to know some special details about the National Library then read this article thoroughly.


Features of Indian National Library, Kolkata

The Indian National Library holds the record for being the largest library in India in terms of volume and disposal of materials. An appropriate estimate holds more than 2 million copies of books being archived alongside newspapers and magazines dating back to the decades of 1940s and 1950s. If it strikes you some time to check some juicy gossips about 50’s silver starlet Madhubala or know more about the breakthrough research in the field of medicine to curb deadly diseases from Yellow Fever to HIV-AIDS, chances are more than likely that you’ll find everything that you’re looking for under this roof.


The library is designated under the Department of Culture of the Government of India and holds the reputation of having each and every material published about India, be it in India itself or in some other country. Alongside, the library has materials in almost every Indian language like Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Marathi, Telugu etc. with some special rare publications in languages such as Bengali, Assamese, Meitei, Nepali and Gujarati. It also houses some rare and ancient works published in the languages of Tamil and Malayalam which truly holds tremendous importance in terms of culture and heritage.


The library holds more than 3000 manuscripts, including ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Arabic and African ones and more than 80000 copies of maps, some being very old used by the seafarers in 14th and 15th century. These aspects of this famous heritage will surely invite you every day to feel the essence of different books here.


History of National Library, Kolkata

Under British rule, the library was known as the Imperial Library. It had two sections – public and government services. The public library was accessible to common people who could take memberships for a fee and access any material they want to read and know more about. Students, Doctors, Barristers, and Knowledge-enthusiasts used to flock the building every day from morning till night and would inverse themselves in the vast sea of knowledge. This place came to be known as Calcutta Public Library, dating back to 1836. From that time it is the most crowded and desired place to travel and gather massive knowledge from several kinds of books.


Previously, the membership of the Public Library was limited to only Europeans, but later on, it was opened to Indians and other nationalities. The institution used to be operated on a proprietorship basis, and any member with the membership of 300 rupees could become proprietors. The first Indian personality to become the proprietor of Calcutta National Library was Prince Dwarkanath Tagore. The proprietors used to donate a huge amount of books and materials for the library to become one of its kind.


Lord Metcalfe who was the governor, in general, became the largest contributor, who transferred more than 4000 books to the Public Library from Fort Williams.


Gradually with the efforts of the management, a lot of books were bought on behalf of the institution, from Indian and European publications and gradually became the largest archive section of British India.


The Public Library of Calcutta became a well-reputed institution in the early 19th century and was at par with the libraries of the European standards.

In 1953, the Imperial Library was declared as the Indian National Library, at an honorary ceremony by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. In 1954, as per the Delivery of Books Act, every publisher will have to send a designated copy of it’s work to the National Library of India, for its growth and expansion.


The architecture of the National Library, Kolkata

The building that is a part of Belvedere Estate, was built initially for the service of government workers. The Calcutta Public Library was built under the inspiration of a new form of architecture, the Anglo-Indian style of architecture which incorporated European designs with Indian aesthetics. Apart from this, there is a very heavy influence of Italian renaissance architecture on the modern building. All the aspects of amalgamation and influence make it an interesting building from the architectural point of view. Standing at 12 hectares, it’s one of the largest public libraries in India in terms of area and space. Still, architecture attracts visitors every time. It is an extremely interesting fact that how can the library store different kinds of books successfully.

How to Reach The National Library of India

  • Buses- The nearest bus stop is Ekbalpore bus stand. However, other buses going via and towards Alipore can also help you reach the National Library of India.

  • Metro- The nearest metro station is Netaji Bhavan metro station which stands on Noapara- Kavi Subhash metro line with frequently running trains.

  • Taxis and App-based Cabs- By far the easiest way to reach the National Library is to take a cab or yellow taxis if there is no budget constraint in your pocket.

  • Trains- Howrah Railway Station is the nearest to the Indian National Library. The Howrah- Burdwan line local trains run frequently and provide access.

  • Ferries- Taking the river path, you can get down at Babughat and take a cab to reach the location.


National Library Visiting Hours

The Indian National Library opens at 9 AM and closes at 8 PM and can be visited anytime between on weekdays ie. Monday to Friday.

On weekends ie. Saturday and Sunday the library is open for the public from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM.


Places to Visit near National Library

If you have visited the National Library and you get some extra time to visit some interesting places. Here are some places which are nearest to the National Library, you can visit.

  • Alipore Zoo Kolkata– This is just 1.4 km away from the National Library. You can visit here to cheer up yourself with the beauty of nature and different kinds of animals & birds.

  • Rabindra Sadan– If you are a cultural person who loves theatre, movies and a big admirer of poetry. You will definitely love this place. You can find Bengali literacy cultures in every corner of this place. Rabindra Sadan is just 2 km away from the National Library.

  • Kolkata Race Course– At the end of the day you can enjoy some amazing horse riding events here. This is the famous place in Kolkata just 1.9 km away from the National Library.

  • Princep Ghat– You can also visit this historical place. Just sit on the bank of the river Ganga and enjoy the sunset. Take a bus from the National Library and you can reach Princep Ghat within 10 min.

  • Victoria Memorial– This iconic building is famous in Kolkata for spending quality time with your friends and love. Just 15 minutes away from the National Library.


Entry Fees for National Library, Kolkata

The Indian National Library is free to access for people above the age of 18. It doesn’t have any entry fee, but there is a membership charge for people willing to seek membership in the library. Once you pay for the membership, you’ll be given a membership card which you’ll have to get for limitless access to its archives.

Let's Sum Up

Not only in the literary aspect, the National Library of India holds a lot of value in the cultural, historical, and architectural heritage space not just for the city of Kolkata but for the entire country of India. Such places should be well preserved and regular contributions and donations should be made for their growth so that bibliophiles and experience seekers can enjoy the fruits of this amazing heritage building along with intellectual exercises.