The icnonic Mussoorie Library turns 175

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Pic Courtesy: Ganesh Saili

Town’s oldest institutions, the iconic Mussoorie Library is all set to turn a 175 years old. Should you find yourself in Mussoorie, just ask for Gandhi Chowk or Library or Kitabghar or the House of Books and you will be standing at a town-square that gets its name from this Victorian Era building.

The hill station’s early guides tell you that the combined efforts a British merchant, a missionary and officers of the Military Establishment founded the Library, built on a site owned by  Scott and Pitt, who in turn sold it to Major Edmund Swetenham, Commandant of the Landour Convalescent Depot.

In 1843, a Library Committee was formed with Vansittart, the Superintendent of the Doon as its Chairman. Afterwards,  it was transferred to a trust ‘to be held forever in trust for and on behalf of the Mussoorie Library Committee.

Maybe our pioneers knew that many a journey begins with the turning of a single page. Kitabghars or our House of Books remains the last living symbol of a civilised world.

During the post Independence days, the late Mrs Maisie Gantzer, held the fort, just like others illustrious members of her family in later years. For twenty years, as a member of the hill station’s oldest living institution, the Honorary Secretary for close to six years now Professor Ganesh Saili says:  “We see this  library as a lifeboat; a place to paddle your own canoe; detox to clean the cobwebs of the mind and open a window to the world. It’s a celebration of knowledge; a shelter from the vagaries of the life.”

The glass-paned windows open on to the Mall, filling the burnished floors with sunlight,  adding to the glory of the ancient Reading Room. To it flock historians, researchers and scholars in search of hidden treasures tucked away in its glass fronted wooden cupboards.

Pramod Sawhney, Chairperson and a senior member the Library wistfully maintains, “175 years is but a drop in the ocean of Time but books are forever as they are divine. To read ,to live, to grow I would like to have you know, the Mussoorie Library still remains, both yours and mine.