Bookworm Pranab finds his spot
“I can spend all five years sitting in this library and reading,” said President Pranab Mukherjee, who made his first visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan library, now brought to its original glory after a detailed renovation work.
Known as the daughter of resplendent Durbar Hall, the library was designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens. It is located in north-east corner of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It was dumped with books till Mukherjee, an avid reader of history, decided to renovate it. Extra books shelves have been removed to create space and a table with chairs designed by Lutyens himself added to the grace of this relatively small yet elegant portion of the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan.
After four months of carefully undertaken renovation work, a brightly lit library, having a view of the entire Raisina Hill, welcomes guests with 4,000 titles neatly stacked in British-era wooden cupboards, the oldest one being Alexander Beatson’s “War with
Tippoo Sultan and The Siege of Seringapatnam”, published in 1800.
Edward Foster’s “British Gallery of Engravings from the Pictures of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch and English Schools”, which has a signature of Viceroy Lord Curzon, is another rare piece from the collection which was gifted to him by the Raja of Tripura.
The library also has a collection of early editions of Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire published on Saturdays in the 19th and 20th Century.
“The library has over 24,000 books, but only 4,000 have been put on display. The rest are being catalogued, arranged and if needed restored to their original condition,” said press secretary to the President Venu Rajamony.