from here & there - Friends of books

from here  & there - Friends of books

Gokarna, which is known for the atmalinga, seashores, and the constant crowd of visitors, has an added attraction now, in the form of a library. The reference unit, known as Kone Annana Library, is home to a collection of over 60,000 books. The library, owned by octogenarian Ganapathi Vedeshwara, is known for its valuable books. The rare collection includes over 4,000 Sanskrit books, 600-year-old articles written on palm leaves, volumes on philosophy, mythology and the Vedas. Books published by the then Bombay Government 175 years ago are also part of the collection. Literature in about 38 languages including Halegannada, Hosagannada, Marathi, Hindi, English, French and German is available in this unique library.

What began as a hobby in 1939 has now developed into a full-fledged library with donated, bought and presented books. Every year Ganapathi gets around 600 books from Indian and foreign publishers. Apart from books, he also has a collection of stamps and coins.The credit for reviving the library which was in a dilapidated condition goes to Elias Tabet, a French tourist. A regular visitor to Gokarna, Elias stumbled upon the collection at Ganapathi’s house a decade ago. He decided to help Ganapathi to renovate the library and sought the help of his French friends for the purpose. The collective effort has led to the construction of a well-equipped building at a cost of Rs 34 lakh. In the process, the team has also put the content of the books online.

A theatre person, Elias is interested in Indian dance forms like Kathakali and Bharatanatyam. He spends three months in a year in Gokarna and has staged more than 10 plays in India with his team. For the last three years, he has been conducting dance classes for French nationals who visit Gokarna.

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