Between dusty covers awaits a treasure

Literary delights

In the narrow bylanes of the old Delhi, more than two-decades-old library serves book lovers with 'extinct' or rare publications, including dictionaries and poems compiled in numerous languages.

The ‘Shah Waliullah’ library, situated a few steps away from Jama Masjid in Imli Gali of Chandni Chowk, has over 15,000 books in Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, and Arabic languages.

Established in 1990 by a handful of youth within a miniature room, the library has 75 per cent of books belonging to the 'extinct' or rare category.

Now the institute is run by Delhi Youth Welfare Association (DYWA) under the care taking of Sikander Changezi, who claims to be a descendant of the last Mughal lineage.

“Since I have a connection with the lineage of the royal family, the books that I have contributed in the library have come from my descendants. I donated 2,000 books when the library was formed,” Changezi told PTI.

“When people came to know about the library, they donated all kinds of books, including the rarest ones. Now it has 15,000 books with 75 per cent of them of the extinct category,” he added.

The library serves a variety of books which includes more than 150-year-old book of poetry by the last surviving mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar, and over 90-year-old 'Bhagavad Gita' compiled in Sanskrit and Urdu.

“The library has the last Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar's poems compiled by him. The first issue of the poems was published in 1855 inside Red Fort’s Royal Press. The book has resonances of Punjabi language too,” he added.

The other important book, he said, was the Bhagavad Gita which has been written in Sanskrit as well as in Urdu, making it an interesting read here.

Among the other rare books is Sair-ul-aqtab written by Qazi Syed Ali in Persian, some 225 years ago, on the Sufi teachings, Changezi added.

There are a lot of dictionaries written in languages such as Urdu, Persian, Arabic, English and Turkish. One such book is Khazanatul Lugaat' which is written in six languages in 1870 by a Begum in Bhopal.

Students and scholar from India and around the world come here to study and examine these ‘extinct books.

“Right now, the constraint of space is a problem for the library. Due to less space, we have to pack some of the books so as to restore them,” one of the member of DYWA, Mohammad Naeem said.

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