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Home > Discover Mumbai > Sight Seeing > Mumbai > David Sassoon Library
 

  David Sassoon Library  

David Sassoon Library - A book lovers retreat

David Sassoon LibraryThe city of Mumbai reminds one of R L Stevenson's poem 'the Railway Carriage,' where there is no time to 'stand and stare.' But amidst the hustle bustle is a well disposed haven for readers - the David Sassoon Library. As one walks down the famed Kala Ghoda art district, you come across the library, a part of a row of Malad stone buildings that encompasses the Army Navy Building, Watson's Hotel and Elphinstone College. Built during British India in 1847 by Sir Albert Sassoon, the David Sassoon Library took a long 23 years to be completed. Named after his father David Sassoon, the cost of the building amounted to Rs 1,25,000, a hefty sum in pre-independent India.

David SassoonA walk through the stately building gives an impression similar to that of the 'land of lotus eaters.' The most common sight in this idyllic world is that of people reclining lazily on the arm chairs and flipping through pages of books or deep in slumber. For bookworms, the David Sassoon Library is a blessing, given the fact that the city hardly has any peaceful retreats for book lovers.

Deep in SleepAs one enters the daintily designed neo-gothic structure, you are greeted by a stately statue of David Sassoon. The formidable three storied structure has columns of black trap and pointed arches, painted black and white, a distinct feature of Kala Ghoda architecture. The building is not just brick and mortar, for it opens out into a garden at the rear end. The winding wooden staircase that leads to the first floor has a stately grandeur about it, a rarity in modern structures. The turrets placed at corners of the grand structure recreates the atmosphere of a church, and bright colourful Milton tiles seem to welcome its readers.

The tranquil and serene atmosphere of the library makes for a relaxed and laid back setting. Here, visitors include retired people, hip-hop teenagers and even serious academicians. "We have grown up with the library and it has enabled us to develop our intellectual faculties to a great extent. I cannot think of Bombay without David Sassoon," remarked an veteran member of the library.

The interiors of the library David Sassoon has a stock of over 40,000 books on philosophy, history, geography, pure sciences, technology and fiction. A major part of the collection happens to be in English, but there is also a reasonably good collection of books in Hindi, Gujarathi and Marathi. The library contains about 150 rare books on ancient Indian and world history, which are dated original works of authors such as Shakespeare and Alexander Dumas coupled with valuable archeological works and books on science, technology and theology. The oldest book in its shelves dates back to 1798. Also of considerable historical significance is a collection of letters and correspondence of Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, Secretary of State to Queen Anne of England. Over the years the library has ensured that these priceless books are preserved in their The gallery original form. There is also an impressive collection of maps, drawings and sketches worth more than a passing glance. Apart from providing good reading room and lending facilities, provisions have also been made for holding seminars, exhibitions, film shows, book releases and art exhibitions.

Membership

Patrons: Rs 8,000

Life Membership: Rs 4,000

Regular Membership: Rs 400 annually

Address:
David Sassoon Library,
# 152 Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Kala Ghoda, Fort,
Mumbai - 400 023.
Phone: 284 3703

By: Sharmistha Chatterjee

Photographer: Vinayak Prabhu


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